Retro: 2001 Honda Caixa

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Want a tiny fold up electric scooter for running around town that costs almost nothing, weighs nothing and fits anywhere? The now decade-old 2001 Honda Caixa concept would have been that, had it gone into production. Feeling a little deja vu? This isn’t a new idea. Anyone who considers themselves a Gran Turismo nerd will likely be familiar with the 1983 Honda City Turbo and its matching Motocompo scooter we featured this time last year.

Like the Motocompo, the Caixa also matched a car. The Honda Unibox is possibly the strangest vehicle I’ve ever seen and, thankfully, was never built or even intended for production. More than anything, it resembles a gaming PC that’s had an industrial design makeover and somehow found its way into Dwell magazine. The original Motocompo was powered by a remarkably gutless 2.5bhp 50cc motor. The thing about motors like this is that they can run on a coffee cup’s worth of gas for a week and they tend to last forever. The Caixa would have been powered by an in-hub electric motor that, presumably, got its power from some sort of batteries. I imagine that with current battery tech, a 40-60 mile range would be feasible.

Also like the Motocompo, the Caixa was designed to golf into itself. At least partially. In folded mode, the wheelbase shortens, the seat moves forward, the bars lay back and collapse and the floor boards fold up to create flush sides. The idea is that the Caixa could easily fit into designated storage space in the Unibox’s doors — space that’s there anyways for crash protection — and be easily lifted out to perform short, urban journeys. That Unibox was designed to be sort of an apartment on wheels for inner-city Tokyo dwellers who spend an inordinate amount of time in their cars. Think of the Caixa as its tender, there to enable drivers to venture between car and shore through a sea of traffic.

Obviously neither the Caixa or Unibox was terribly production realistic. The problem is that car drivers probably aren’t prepared to be charged a premium for a secondary vehicle they don’t want, don’t need and likely don’t know how to ride. Without a four-wheeler to be packaged in, the business case simply isn’t there for developing a folding, short-range electric scooter. It too would require a premium for all that foldiness, something which wouldn’t reap practical benefits if it wasn’t going into a designated storage space.

  • James

    FYI, caixa, (pronounced kī-sha) is Portuguese for box. I wander if you can carry this on a bus?

  • HammSammich

    I need a little bail out vehicle for the trunk of my subie. ;)

    • Steven

      yeah, they couldn’t fit this in a goldwing’s boxes (or a pacific coast’s trunk)?

      • HammSammich

        I like where you’re going with this…Taken to the ultimate extent, you could have a sort of matryoshka of mobility. A semi-tractor trailer, with a Pickup inside, with a Goldwing in the bed, with a Caixa attached…I wonder if there’s room to fit a skateboard inside the Caixa?

  • Thom

    Now that ………. is ugly !

    Take one Lunch Box . Add two wheels , one poor excuse for a fork and handlebars , one loaf of bread for a seat and you’ve got …..

    This !

    The ( urp ) car ?

    Almost makes the scooter look good . Almost .

    Come on Big Red . You can and have done better !

    I hate this Box crap trend !

    • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

      tell us how you really feel……. :)

  • dux

    Back when Honda made interesting vehicles…ahh, nostalgia!

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      “Know what would make Civics better? If they were bigger!”

      • Sean Smith

        I like how the civic ballooned out of control to the point that they had to start making the fit/jazz because they no longer had a small car. Their cars have been seriously lame for a solid ten years now. Toyota is even worse.

  • Scott-jay

    I want one that follows me around folded-up using an electro-tether and segway tech. Red.

    • HammSammich

      Only if it says, “Beedeebeedeebeedeee,” and calls me Buck… ;)

  • Mike

    Sean, great article! I love forgotten weirdness. So with this in their background, and the Insight with four wheels… why no awesome electrical Honda superbike yet? Are they going to create an electrical CB750? Or just keep making really ugly scooter/motorcycle hybrids?

    • Sean Smith

      The battery tech isn’t there yet. Even Michael Czysz, with all the money in the world behind him, can’t crack 100 mph around the Isle of Man.

      To give you some perspective of how un-superbikey that is, in 1957 a man on a 300 lb, 60 wheel-hp 500cc 4-cylinder motorcycle with 1957 drum brakes, 1957 forks, 1957 win rear shocks and wet noodle swingarm, skinny treaded tires and a gigantic dustbin fairing lapped the island at over 100 mph. The race was 8 laps long.

      Sure, electric bikes have 200+ horsepower, but that number is completely meaningless. It’s like having a MotoGP engine with fueling supplied by an early 1900′s carburetor and a tea-cup sized fuel tank. You might be able to make 200 hp, but only for a split second and only once or twice.

      We obviously won’t be seeing a serious electric superbike before the the people with the most money and fastest riders can beat Bob Mac on his 1957 Gilera 500.

      That said, there’s nothing wrong with a slow scooter/bike with limited range to be used for cruising around town. The tech for that is here now.

      • dux

        How about the scooter TTXGP? Whoever can pick up some milk and a dozen roses under 10 minutes wins?

        • Sean Smith

          I’ll ride on the sidewalk, run all the lights and exploit gardner trucks and buses on my bicycle while I get it done in half the time and stay in shape for knee draggin ;) If you’re a fast cyclist and you don’t mind flaunting the law, you can go about as fast as a 50cc scooter in traffic. At least for five miles or so.