Honda President Takanobu Ito says around 10 percent of Honda’s global sales will be hybrids by 2015, and all of its models are built with the ability to quickly adapt into hybrids.
In a Dec. 6 article, Automotive News primarily focused on how Kohei Hitomi, chief engineer of the Honda Fit, was asked by Honda’s top management in 2003 to make the Fit easily adaptable into a hybrid. So, Hitomi built in extra space below the rear floorboard flap for a potential electric motor in the engine housing. In the hybrid, the space houses the battery pack, inverter and controller—but it’s left empty in the gas-powered Fit.
Four years later, Honda’s strategy of designing the Fit to easily accept a hybrid drivetrain was extended to all mainstream Honda models, regardless of whether or not the vehicle was scheduled to get a hybrid version. “From now on, the basic stance is the simultaneous development of the base model with the hybrid version in mind,” said Hitomi, in an interview with Automotive News. “That is the trend.”
The Honda Fit Hybrid went on sale in Japan in October, and will be sold in Europe in early 2011. The Fit Hybrid’s fuel efficiency and price aligns with the 2010 Honda Insight, rated at 40 mpg in the city and 43 on the highway. There are currently no plans to bring the Fit Hybrid to the United States.
According to Automotive News, Honda is working on a wagon version of the Fit that will come with both conventional and hybrid drivetrains. The wagon, which will be about 20 inches longer than the current Fit, will also only be available in Japan.
A Lot More Hybrids, Plus Plug-ins
Due to government regulations and incentives, hybrid sales in Japan since last year have eclipsed of those in the United States—but with tougher U.S. fuel economy regulations slated for the U.S. in 2012 to 2016, the American hybrid market is expected to dramatically grow.
Engineers working on the Honda Fit Hybrid employed additional fuel efficiency improvements, such as better aerodynamics—reducing the size of the front grille, adding low-resistance tires, and designing a small air intake for the battery cooling system. These strategies will also be applied to larger hybrids expected from Honda and its Acura luxury brand.
As we reported on PluginCars.com, those larger hybrids will employ Honda’s upcoming two-motor hybrid system with plug-in capability. While the Fit Hybrid is not expected in the U.S., Honda announced at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, that an all-electric version of the Fit would go on sale in 2012.