Honda Fit Hybrid (syndication)

Honda Fit

HybridCars.com reported in 2006 that Honda was planning a hybrid version of the Fit. That news flash was based on an exclusive interview with an unidentified source—but company officials denied the report. “We’re not thinking of a Jazz (Fit) hybrid right now,” said Takeo Fukui, Honda president and CEO, in December 2006. “To us, the Jazz has sufficient fuel efficiency with the current gasoline engine.”

Fukui reversed his story in May 2008 when he told reporters that the spike in crude oil prices convinced Honda that “a Fit hybrid is now starting to make sense.”

On May 26, 2009, Japan’s Nikkei business daily reported that Honda plans to roll out a gas-electric hybrid version of the Fit in Japan in fall 2010—about a year and a half ahead of the original schedule. Despite the global slowdown in auto sales, hybrids are hot sellers in Japan. In April, the Honda Insight became the first hybrid ever to top the best-seller list in Japan. Toyota will resume overtime at its factory in Aichi, central Japan, in response to strong demand for its new Prius hybrid. According to Nikkei, Honda has not yet decided on the price or sales target for the Fit hybrid—and the story makes no reference to a US release.

The story in 2006 suggested that the Fit would use the original Honda Insight drivetrain. The wheel-hub to wheel-hub dimensions of the Fit and Insight are nearly identical. The Insight was discontinued in 2006, but was revived in 2009 as a practical four-seat hybrid selling for just under $20,000.

The current conventional Fit carries a 1.5-liter engine and averages 30 miles to the gallon. For the hybrid version, Honda reportedly is developing a 1-liter-class engine, according to Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Reports that the Fit hybrid would sell in the $12,000 range seem exaggerated—but even with a hybrid premium of a few thousand dollars, it’s reasonable to assume that the Fit Hybrid would sell for considerably less than the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid—and maybe even less than the 2010 Honda Insight. At the same time, it’s likely that the Honda Fit Hybrid’s mileage would exceed all other hybrids.