Honda is developing an online reservation platform for the new E Prototype electric car, allowing early adopters to pay a refundable deposit to secure their place in the queue for its new electric small car.
The platform will open in a few months’ time, said Honda UK MD Dave Hodgetts at the 2019 Geneva show – and the firm already has 15,000 expressions of interest from eager customers, many of whom it hopes will convert.
Tesla famously received more than 400,000 deposits when it opened reservations for the Model 3. While Honda isn’t planning on taking quite so many pre-orders (and thus raking in so much deposit cash), it still hopes the system will help it tap into a new, younger and more tech-savvy audience.
It will also provide useful information for any future online sales platforms Honda may develop.
“We have an extremely loyal customer base,” said Hodgetts. “Our retailers are extremely well practiced at serving these people. To grow the brand, we need to expand our reach, and cars such as the E Prototype are an opportunity to do that.”
Even if those intrigued by the E Prototype don’t go on to actually buy one, Hodgetts says the chance to interact with a potential new customer base will be invaluable.
“It’s a similar strategy to the one we run with Civic Type R,” said head of car Phil Webb. “Whenever we or our retailers show the Type R, we’ll always have a standard Civic alongside it. It’s a powerful tactic in generating interest in the Civic range – as the Type R continues to win awards, Civic sales overall are continuing to do well.”
With the production E Prototype, says Hodgetts, Honda will have two range-toppers. “It is a small car, but it is still a top of the range car. The price will reflect this, but the car will justify it. We want to follow a similar strategy to the iPhone, a premium-priced product that most people desire.”
Honda has not yet confirmed how much the reservation fee will be. Tesla charged $1,000, or £1,000, but Honda is not expected to charge quite so much, which may encourage more people to place deposits. Deposits will also be refundable, added a spokesperson.