CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) – It’s soft, it glows and if it’s in a crash, nothing will get badly dented — maybe.
The car, which made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday, is named after a Japanese word that describes a soft, spongy texture.
Driven with a joystick, the Puyo glows in different colors, depending on whether it is running or standing still.
“It’s definitely ‘cute’ rather than ‘cool’,” a spokeswoman for Honda said.
The silicone that covers the Puyo’s body and interior — the same material used for some mousepads or i-Pod covers — gives the car a texture that is harder than Jell-o but softer than an eraser, so it can be pinched with the fingers.
More seriously, the Puyo is an environmentally friendly fuel-cell vehicle, creating electricity from hydrogen fuel and oxygen and emitting only water.
While the car is not likely to be on the market until around 2020, it gives a peek into what is on the drawing board at Honda, known for being at the forefront of pedestrian safety.
In 1987 Honda became the first Japanese car maker to install airbags in Japan, and in 2004 it put infrared cameras on one of its models, which record objects even in the dark and enable the drivers to identify pedestrians on a screen.
But just how much of a collision can the pedestrian-friendly Puyo take before it gets bent out of shape?
“We can’t talk about the strength of the car,” the spokeswoman said. “We’re working on that now.”