The New Honda Fit EV will go on sale for U.S. customers in 2012. By using the lighter Honda Fit platform, already in volume manufacturing, Honda could price the Fit EV at $29,900, less than the Nissan LEAF with a minimum price of $32,780.
The Fit EV was announced at the LA Auto Show as a concept. As crowds of reporters surrounded the car for photos, I could see that this new battery-electric car will be popular with current drivers of hot compact hatchbacks such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Cruze, and Mini-Cooper. In the next few months the Fit EV will hit the streets with real world daily driving at Stanford University, City of Torrance, and Google’s fleet and car share programs. The Fit EV will be introduced to the U.S. and Japan in 2012. The Fit EV will compete with the Nissan LEAF, Toyota FT-EV, Ford Focus Electric, and several others as competition heats for 2012 leadership.
This was the first time that a new global vehicle was personally announced by a Honda CEO at a U.S. show. Takanobu Ito, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. President and CEO. Stated, “We must advance from using less petroleum to no petroleum…. In Honda’s view, an electric vehicle must offer great utility and be fun to drive. Fit EV’s urban commuting capability will be a perfect addition to the full-function mobility of the plug-in hybrid and FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle.”
Honda Fit EV is 100% Electric
I talked with Ben Knight, Honda’s Vice President of Engineering, about these new electric vehicles. Mr. Knight was proud that the electric drive system represent four generations of improvements for Honda starting with the Honda Plus EV in 1997 to Insight and Civic Hybrids to generations of advanced fuel cell vehicles with all-electric drives to the new CR-Z Hybrid. At optimal RPM, the new electric motors are up to 98 percent efficient. This is quite a contrast to the typical 15 percent efficiency of a gasoline engine.
The Fit EV is designed to meet the daily driving needs of the average metropolitan commuter and utilizes the same 5-passenger layout found in the popular Fit hatchback. The Fit EV is be powered by a lithium-ion battery and coaxial electric motor. The high-density motor, derived from the FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, delivers excellent efficiency and power while remaining quiet at high speeds. The Fit EV will have a top speed of 90 mph.
The Fit EV will achieve an estimated 100-mile driving range per charge using the US EPA LA4* city cycle (70 miles when applying EPA’s adjustment factor). Driving range can be maximized by use of an innovative 3-mode electric drive system, adapted from the 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid. The system allows the driver to select between Econ, Normal, and Sport to instantly and seamlessly change the driving experience to maximize efficiency or improve acceleration. While in Econ mode, practical driving range can increase by as much as 17 percent compared to driving in Normal mode, and up to 25 percent compared to driving in Sport mode. The Nissan LEAF Eco mode only improves range by 10 percent. Acceleration improves significantly when in Sport mode, generating performance similar to a vehicle equipped with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine.
In addition to the 3-mode E-Drive system, the Fit EV will include several interactive coaching systems to assist the driver in maximizing battery range. A special meter display advises the driver when to shut off air conditioning and other accessories to conserve battery power.
Remote Control for New Electric Car
To help the driver manage the electric vehicle ownership experience, the Fit EV will have a standard connectivity system that allows the driver to stay connected through a smartphone and personal computer, or the Honda-exclusive interactive remote, while away from the vehicle. The pocket-friendly, interactive remote provides connectivity to the vehicle without the need for an internet connection or mobile phone signal. Through the connectivity system, drivers will be able to remotely view the vehicle’s state of charge, initiate charging and activate the air conditioning, even while connected to the grid, to reduce the drain on the battery at start-up. The mobile application and website also offers the ability to set charging notifications and alerts to optimize utility rates, and provides 24-hour roadside assistance, along with a public charging station locator. The Fit EV will come equipped with a standard Honda Satellite Linked Navigation System™ that includes a public charging-station locator capability.
The Fit EV is designed to be easy and convenient to charge. Battery recharging can be accomplished in less than 12 hours when using a conventional 120-volt outlet, and less than six hours when using a 240-volt outlet. The Fit EV has unique LED headlights, a chrome front fascia, aerodynamic bumper, clear LED taillights and EV decals. Inside, the Fit EV Concept is outfitted in an eco-friendly gray bio-fabric on the seating surfaces.
Displayed alongside the Fit EV Concept at the show is a prototype Honda charging stand. To begin charging, the driver swipes a card in front of the screen and then connects the charger to the vehicle. The Honda charging stand provides a glimpse at the future of an electric-charging infrastructure that is easy to use and intuitive for consumers.
Clean Fleet Report: Honda 2012 Plug-in Hybrid