Honda Great Journey

Sometimes design is not about solving an everyday problem – it can also be a means of imagining the future and dreaming what might become possible as technology advances.

Honda. Great Journey was a film collaboration with the Japanese car manufacturer that explored impossible vehicles – utilising Honda’s cutting-edge technology to imagine how futuristic vehicles might make journeys beyond what we can presently achieve.

Working with creative director Morihiro Harano, Map designed a journey that would retrace humankind’s great ancestral migration from Africa across the globe to South America. Broken down into seven distinctive stages and terrains, this journey introduced the viewer to seven future vehicles.

Although stretching current reality, the vehicles needed to be grounded in real-world technologies. As such, Map thoroughly researched both contemporary and historical vehicles that had been designed for the terrains that the Great Journey took in.

Inspired by Honda’s autonomous driving technology, fuel cells and solar power, as well as unique products such as Asimo and the Uni-Cub, Great Journey explored Honda’s rich heritage and design identity, offering a tantalising vision of where this might lead us in the future.

Client
Honda
Year
2016
Map Team
Jon Marshall, Scott Barwick, Will Howe, Paul Wolfson + Jacky Chung
Film + Photography
Petr Krejčí
Producer
Shelley Lee Davis
Editor
Nico Argast
Sound Design
Martin Merenyi
Colourist
William H.W. Read
Stop Frame Animation
Map Team, Chris Ullens + Alistair Moncur
Set Build
Finn Magee, Charlie Humble-Thomas, Freddie Simmonds, Matteo Fogale, Laetitia de Allegri + Rami Santala
Model Making
Ogle Models

Honda Great Journey

The Safari Drifter, the Desert Train, the Mountain Climber, the Island Hopper, the Tundra Sled, the Road Tripper and the Jungle Jumper: seven speculative vehicles for seven distinct terrains, each imagining what the future of mobility might hold.

In the mid-2010s, Japanese car brand Honda approached Map with a proposal. Honda wanted to explore what transportation could look like in the years to come, and dream up new design approaches towards the vehicles that may enable this. These would be fantastical transporters, but all grounded in the reality of new, emerging technologies: a glimpse into what lies around the corner

Working with creative director Morihori Harano, Map responded with Great Journey: a design project inspired by the migration that, millions of years ago, saw our ancestors travel over 50,000km from Africa, north into Europe and then on around the rest of the globe, adapting to the terrain as they travelled. Honda’s question was simple: what vehicle could make this same journey in the not too distant future?

Map extensively researched both historical and contemporary vehicle design, quickly reaching a conclusion: no single vehicle could make a journey crossing savannah, deserts, mountains, sea, snow and jungle, without compromising comfort, performance or pleasure. As such, Map broke the journey down into distinct stages, creating seven vehicles that could perfectly accommodate each terrain.

The resulting vehicles all drive autonomously and therefore serve as living spaces as much as transportation: sites in which people can watch the spectacular scenery roll past, take a hot bath, celebrate with friends, or simply relax with the family pet. The Great Journey is a slow discovery, not a race, and each vehicle takes cues from the terrain it finds itself in.

The Safari Drifter takes its design lead from the utilitarian 1970s Honda Vamos, combining the capabilities of a four-wheel drive with the comforts of a camper van. It can be driven from both ends to quickly change direction when on safari, while a roof platform lifts into the sky beneath a helium balloon, offering uninterrupted views of the savannah.

Sandy, rocky terrain is the natural home of the Desert Train, which looks to the traditional camel train, Honda two-stroke generators and Motra motorcycles for inspiration. Its connected vehicles are powered by Honda fuel cells, with the excess water generated as a by-product filtered into a rolling water container. At night, the train transforms into a spectacular Bedouin camp.

A heavy duty truck with a protective solid metal body that can protect against the impact of Himalayan rock falls, Mountain Climber travels atop robotic legs drawn from Honda’s Asimo robot. These limbs can navigate the treacherous terrain, while also rebuilding damaged mountain passes. Elsewhere, a chalet-style interior features floor-to-ceiling glass to create a viewing platform out over the snowy peaks.

The Island Hopper leaps from Hong Kong, across Japan to the peninsula of Kamchatka, utilising six paddle wheels inspired by lightweight Formula One structures and solar technology to traverse its amphibious domain. A sun deck provides a space to relax in or fish, while at night the sides of the vehicle’s canopy unfurl to create a more intimate space for ocean life.

Earth's frozen north sees the Tundra Sled utilise wheeled drones that employ Honda’s Uni-Cub self-balancing drive units to mimic the manoeuvrability of dog sleds. The drones move as a pack to avoid cracks and crevasses in the ice, while the sled offers luxurious refuge from the harsh, unforgiving tundra, complete with a built-in telescope to enjoy the unpolluted night sky.

Man-made roads stretching from Alaska to Mexico represent the smoothest leg of the journey, with the Road Tripper employing Honda’s gyro-steering system to let riders enjoy the Californian coastal roads in peace or else jump onto on-board café racers to ride ahead. Informed by Honda’s 1960s Formula One cars and Daytona motorcycles, the Road Tripper manifests as an aerodynamic glass and stainless steel tube which then cracks open in the evenings for aprés-surf barbecues.

Broken tarmac roads, dirt tracks and thick jungle: the Jungle Jumper handles one of the most challenging of the journey’s legs. A two-part vehicle, it is inspired by Honda T360 pickup trucks, riding on high suspension with deep-tread tyres for extra traction. As the Jungle Jumper plots its path through the jungle, a seed spreader follows along to help reforestation, while a habitation unit is hoisted into the trees at the end of the day to provide an aerial platform amidst the jungle’s canopy.

These seven designs are fantastical future vehicles, but each is grounded in actual technology currently being developed by Honda. This sense of reality is reflected in the final film and making process. Every vehicle was made as a physical scale model by Ogle Models, while Map then worked with Petr Krejci to design sets in which a final mixed-media stop-motion/live action film could be brought to life.

Client
Honda
Year
2016
Map Team
Jon Marshall, Scott Barwick, Will Howe, Paul Wolfson + Jacky Chung
Film + Photography
Petr Krejčí
Producer
Shelley Lee Davis
Editor
Nico Argast
Sound Design
Martin Merenyi
Colourist
William H.W. Read
Stop Frame Animation
Map Team, Chris Ullens + Alistair Moncur
Set Build
Finn Magee, Charlie Humble-Thomas, Freddie Simmonds, Matteo Fogale, Laetitia de Allegri + Rami Santala
Model Making
Ogle Models