team recently carried out a full UX evaluation of the Honda e in Germany. It’s
a car designed to evoke the Urban EV concept shown in 2017, attempting to
echo both the design and the ambitious technologies of that concept, but with the constraints of a production car.
The interior features an
almost full-width display area, with two large touchscreens and a digital
instrument cluster, book-ended by two Camera Monitoring System (CMS) screens. Combined
with its wide, flat wood trim and grey seats, Honda has designed the interior
to feel like a lounge.
The Honda e is among the first cars to launch with a CMS rather than
conventional mirrors. A small camera pod on each door
feeds dedicated displays at either end of the dashboard, and a third camera
feeds the central rear-view mirror, although this can be toggled to a
conventional reflective surface.
There are several benefits to this, including improved
aerodynamics, reduced blind spots and a notable wow-factor. But, there are clear down-sides too. The most
significant issues are the lack of ability to perceive depth, and the performance
in rainy and dark conditions. From a user experience point of view, it is currently
difficult to find a tangible advantage to CMS over conventional mirrors and, although Honda’s solution is in most ways preferable to that in the Audi
e-tron, it still provides minimal evidence to support a transition.
includes a 12.3-inch central and passenger-side display, an 8.8-inch instrument
cluster and two 6-inch CMS screens. Rather than a conventional driver and
passenger screen layout, the two main screens adjoin and work together rather
than in isolation from each other. This somewhat blurs the boundary for the
driver and can take longer to understand than a conventional single-screen
configuration, particularly as the only obvious shortcut for functions such as
FM radio are far over on the passenger side.
of the infotainment system demonstrates an attempt to push boundaries, this has
not carried through to the instrument cluster. The design is cluttered and empty, with some areas crowded with content. and others with
much empty space. Information is not grouped intuitively: some crowded areas
contain multiple different types of content with no segmentation. Visual
alignment is lacking, and the customizable area is extremely small and
restrictive resulting in truncated words and a low level of customization.
But, there are several fun
features are evident in the e, which fit well with the overall ethos of the
car. An aquarium app displays a virtual fish tank with fish that the user can
choose and ‘feed’, the VPA system has an avatar and features such as ‘tell me a
joke’, different wallpapers can be chosen and provision is made to connect a
gaming console through an HDMI port and inverter running a domestic AC plug
socket. While there are minimal real-life use cases for many of these features,
they are likely to make an impression at the dealership.
is a system one wants to like, and most of
the issues are, in isolation, relatively minor. However, in combination, they
result in an interface that feels unnecessarily frustrating, inconsistent and
overly complicated. Although the system promises a great
deal, in its current form it is confusing to use and does not manage to live up
to expectations. However, with improvements to the software, it still has ample ability to become very
effective and competitive, due to the robust and well-implemented hardware.
Automotive's UX evaluations:
The Honda e report is the fifth in a series of 12 infotainment expert user experience
evaluations SBD Automotive is carrying out this year. These reports have been
produced for several years and provide an expert evaluation of the leading
navigation and infotainment systems in the European, US, Chinese and Japanese
markets. The series has four main objectives, aimed at supporting clients at
various stages of the development cycle: Benchmark and score, Define areas of
concern, Outline best practice and Provide tangible recommendations. For these
studies, SBD Automotive evaluates the three core components of user experience:
functionality, ergonomics and usability, to ensure a fair score can be provided
across each system evaluated.
rely on a robust methodology that has been developed over the lifetime of the
series. It captures over 1,000 data points across 12 different disciplines
including static and dynamic testing, system performance, a feature checklist
and SUS scoring (see charts) to build a data set that can be consistently
benchmarked against all competitor cars, including an overall final percentage
system UX score.