Honda Fit EV Beats Competitors on MPGe and Range

By · June 06, 2012

Honda Fit EV Efficiency

Last December, I had a chance to drive the Honda Fit EV in Japan. It only took a few minutes behind the wheel to be wowed by its performance. Now there’s another reason to be impressed. The 2013 Honda Fit EV has been given an EPA rating of 118 miles per gallon equivalent. That beats out the 112 MPGe rating for the Mitsubishi i; the Focus Electric’s 105 MPGe; and the Nissan LEAF’s 99 MPGe. The highest rating ever awarded by the EPA goes to the Tesla Roadster 2.5 at 119 MPGe.

Based on my experience with the Fit EV, its zippy acceleration—when driving in Sport mode—felt a lot faster than what’s provided in the LEAF. The Fit EV has a 94-kilowatt electric motor compared to the Nissan LEAF’s 80-kW motor. But the relative driving experience makes it feel like much more than a 17.5 percent boost. Keeping the Fit EV in Normal mode moderates the performance to the level of the LEAF's acceleration, which is quite respectable. According to the EPA's numbers, the Fit EV in Normal mode is 19 percent more fuel-efficient than the LEAF. So, by virtue of the Fit EV's modes, drivers will have a choice of emphasizing acceleration or range.

Given how quirky the EPA testing process and drive cycle can be, it’s hard to know what these triple-digit numbers really mean. Perhaps we should focus on range—the real key to making an EV as useful as possible. On that front, the EPA label will show the Fit EV’s official range as 82 miles—versus the Leaf’s 73 miles. This is despite the LEAF carrying a 24-kWh battery pack, while the Fit EV’s energy storage is 20-kilowatt hours.

Honda Fit EV

The gas-powered Fit is highly regarded for packing an impressive amount of cargo and passenger space in such a small car. Honda engineers deserve kudos for retaining all of that space by packing the batteries under the floor, rather than compromising the hatch area, as we see in the Ford Focus Electric. The Fit EV serves as a great example of how to convert an existing platform from an ICE car to EV. Combine that with Honda’s ability to squeeze out maximum range (with a relatively small battery pack refueled by a 6.6-kW charger), effective regenerative braking, and an exhilarating amount of performance, and you could have a truly winning EV.

Now the bad news: Honda doesn’t appear to be convinced that it has a winner on its hands. The company has only committed to leasing 1,100 Honda Fit EVs—or about 366 cars a year—over the next three years. The Fit EV carries a lease price of $399 a month. Honda will begin leasing the electric Fit to customers in select regions of California and Oregon in summer 2012, followed by an East Coast rollout in 2013.

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