Honda Will Lease But Not Sell the All-Electric Fit

By · November 16, 2011

Honda Fit EV introduction at 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

At last year's L.A. Auto Show, Honda announced that it will produce the Fit EV by 2012. This year, the company set a price.

Just about every major automaker will sell an all-electric car in the next few years. But if you want to know how competitive the company wants to be with its EVs, you need to look at one metric: price.

Honda today announced a lease price of $399 a month for the Honda Fit EV, based on a purchase price of $36,625. That's great news. The problem is that the company will not sell the all-electric Fit. It only be available as a lease.

Honda Fit EV

Honda will begin leasing the Fit EV in California and Oregon in summer 2012. The company expects volume to be approximately 1,100 units—or only about 366 cars a year—for the next three years. This low volume, combined with the lease-only approach, sends a message of tentativeness. A Honda official said the company wanted to be careful and cautious about the Fit EV rollout, explaining that "we don't want to experiment on the customer."

Putting an electric car up for lease but not giving EV drivers the option to buy conjures bad memories of the ill-fated EV1, which was confiscated and crushed by General Motors.

The news of the lease-only option is more painful considering that Honda now says the Fit EV will have a range of 123 miles--up from the 100 miles it promised last year at the L.A. show. Honda told me that the company wanted the 123-mile number to get communicated, as a comparison of the range offered by other electric cars, like the Nissan LEAF. Curiously, the company also said that the EPA number for range that will appear on the window sticker is likely to be 76 miles. The Fit EV will use a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery, and will be powered by a 92-kW electric motor.

Honda Fit EV

The Fit EV's onboard 6.6 kW - 32 amp charger means the battery pack can be fully charged with 240 volts in "as little as three hours."

The Fit EV utilizes the same 5-passenger layout found in the popular Fit hatchback. As announced last year, it will come with three modes—econ, normal and sport—an approach it uses on some of its hybrids. The modes will allow drivers to reduce accelerator response in order to maximize range.

New to EVs? Start here

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