Honda presented to the world its Concept S hatchback in Beijing, back in April. The strange green thing resembled a modern-day Mystery Machine, if Shaggy and the gang drove around in a combination Japanese Honda Odyssey and Dustbuster. But it fits into Honda’s lineup the same way Toyota’s Prius V and Ford’s new C-MAX Hybrid do: a taller hybrid wagon, based on a similar chassis and drivetrain as the Insight.
Well, big news for Honda: the Concept S won some sort of film festival, as presented by Dongfeng Honda, the Chinese subsidiary that builds Hondas in China. Jurors voted the Concept S’s presentation the best out of 350 entries, cinching it the German Design Council’s Automotive Brand Contest 2012 award in the concept car segment. (You can watch it here, on Youtube.)
That’s not the big news. The big news is that the Concept S is entering production, and will be sold in China by next year. In fact, Honda showcased the Concept S (and matching Concept C sedan) as being as close to production-ready as possible, so this comes as little surprise. What’s more surprising is the timetable for Honda to do so; in North America at least, its production-ready concept cars mimic the mass-produced ones rather closely. Whether the Concept S will keep its afterburner-like tailights, intricate wheels, diamond-shaped foglights that look like the Stargate, and translucent teal paint that every 1993 Civic came in, remains to be seen.
What also remains to be seen is whether Honda will bring a hybrid wagon to America. Everybody likes to pick on the Toyota Prius V these days—Ford’s spent thousands of digital trees issuing press releases on the subject. Will Honda join the same fracas? Honda wants to be seen as a revolutionary company instead of a reactionary one, in the sense that it introduces new market segments instead of following them. But then, how would you explain the Prius-aping Insight?
Honda is notoriously firm-lipped on future plans. But if you end up in Wuhan, Hubei Province (home of Dongfeng Honda, and one of the “Three Furnaces” of China, so pack plenty of water) next year for any particular reason, expect to see the Concept S with a less concept-y name.