Honda has made the first delivery of the long-awaited Honda Fit EV to a couple in Southern California. The Fit EV is an electric version of the popular Honda Fit subcompact car. It was first shown as a concept car in 2010, and is now available in limited quantities for lease only in California and Oregon.
This is Honda's first electric car since the Honda EV Plus they produced in the late 1990's. After ending the EV Plus program (and crushing most of the EV Plus's) Honda had focused on non-plugin hybrid cars for public sale, and fuel cell cars for demonstration programs.
"The Fit EV is the next critical step in Honda's portfolio approach to alternative fueled vehicles," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
The 2013 Honda Fit EV is a subcompact all electric car which was recently certified by the EPA with the highest energy efficiency of any car, City/Highway/Combined (MPGe) 132 / 105 / 118 miles/gallon equivalent. Specifically, the fuel efficiency This is due to an extremely low energy consumption of just 29 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 miles. Its' 20 kilowatt-hour battery pack is smaller than those on the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric, but because of the efficiency the EPA certified driving range is 82 miles. This mean the Fit EV should drive further than the Nissan Leaf while carrying a smaller battery pack. The on-board 6.6 kilowatt charger means a relatively rapid recharge time of 3 hours, which equates to almost 30 miles of range per hour of charging.
Leviton was selected to provide charging stations for Honda Fit EV leasors.
The first Honda Fit EV leasors, Matt and Becky Walton of Ventura County CA, are long-time Honda owners. They expect to relegate their Honda Odyssey to "secondary car" status.
"It's truly an honor to take delivery of the first Honda Fit EV and participate in the advancement of all-electric vehicles in the real world," said Mr. Walton. "The Honda Fit EV is not only a sustainable and energy efficient transportation option with the highest fuel-efficiency rating of any EV, but it has the added bonus of being fun-to-drive and can fully recharge from empty in less than three hours."
While availability is limited to California and Oregon for now, Honda suggests availability will expand to "East Coast Markets" in "Early 2013". The Fit EV's lease price of $389 per month over a three-year term computes to a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $36,625. The lease comes with Honda-provided collision insurance. In 2011, Honda said total production of the Honda Fit EV would be 1100 units until 2014. Today the company is saying that limited availability will extend through until October 2014. At this time the Fit EV is available only under lease, and there will be no option to purchase at the end of the lease.
Like Ford Motors is doing with the Ford Focus Electric rollout, Honda is certifying selected dealers to handle the Honda Fit EV. Honda explains this is meant to "address a critical step in advancing electric vehicles in the real world" by "providing an excellent customer experience for Fit EV customers' sales and service needs." Reading between the lines, Honda wants to ensure the dealership staff knows the technology and can present it properly to the customer.
It's exciting to see Honda returning to building plug-in all-electric cars. The limited availability of the Fit EV, and limited distribution range for the car, fits the definition of "Compliance Car," meaning that the Fit EV has all the appearance of having been built solely for compliance with CARB regulations in California. What will be telling is what happens in 2014 when Honda says availability of the Fit EV will expand. While it's clear that Honda will earn a benefit in the form of ZEV Credits in California, the Fit EV program could be intended more to gather data and marketing information that will be rolled into future models.