Honda Fit EV introduction at 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

When Honda announced that it planned to produce the Fit EV, it was the most important story of the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Honda announced that it made its first delivery of the Fit EV to a couple in Woodland Hills, Calif. on July 20, 2012. Longtime Honda customers Matt and Becky Walton received their Fit after being first to sign up for the car on Honda's registration website (no celebrity preference here), saying they plan to use it as their main everyday commuter vehicle.

The small but spacious Honda Fit made an ideal urban electric car—and produced critical raves and a lot of happy drivers. Nonetheless, Honda never intended the car to be anything more than a test platform and a means to comply with California's zero emission vehicle mandates.

The target production number was 1,100 units. Twenty Months after the Waltons received their Fit EV, Honda announced that it had reached its production quota, and that production would end earlier than anticipated. (The company had anticipated a two-year run of all-electric Fits.) The cute compact got off to a slow start, but when its lease price—it was only ever available as a lease—was dropped to a reasonable $259 a month (from its previous offer of $389 a month), sales picked up. This pushed the pace of production and sales to the quicker time frame.

In late February 2014, Honda made this announcement, reflecting more than a little consumer interest, through its EV sales division:

Thank you for your email and your interest in the Fit EV. Honda dealers received a significant increase in customer interest in the Fit EV when we announced the updated lease program in June [2013]. As a result, many dealers are maintaining lists of customers who want to lease the Fit EV. Most are reporting that their list is quite long.

Honda introduced the Fit EV with an announced volume of 1,100 units over two model years. The 2014 model year will end early this fall, marking the end of production of the Fit EV. Honda will continue to produce and distribute to authorized Fit EV dealers about 40 Fit EVs per month until that time. While I understand your request for clarity about the timing and/or likelihood of leasing the Fit EV, it depends on a variety of factors such as customer ability or desire to wait for the car that are beyond our ability to predict. Honda's experience with wait lists is that they eventually subside, though this appears to not be the case for the Fit EV.

Thank you again for your interest in the Honda Fit EV.

Minor Footnote

As the electric car movement gains momentum, and marches toward one million battery-powered cars on US roads later this decade, the Honda Fit EV will be relegated to a minor footnote in electric car history.

The car utilized the same 5-passenger layout found in the popular Fit hatchback. Primarily, it was its utilitarian platform that distinguished the Fit from the competition. But in terms of EV specifications, there wasn't much about the car that was unique. It was capable of about 70 to 80 miles on a charge, and delivered a top speed of 90 mph.

If anything special will be remembered about the Fit EV, it's the car’s ability to offer drivers different modes. Normal mode felt a lot like daily driving in the Nissan LEAF. Very normal. It was a good middle ground between decent range and a nice brisk ride. Then, there was Eco mode. If you know that you’ll need every electron to make it to your destination, then Eco mode could extend range and back down on acceleration—an acceptable compromise for getting safely from Point A to Point B.

But punch the Sport mode button, which gives the dash a red hue, and the Fit EV came to life. When in Sport mode, any shortcoming of the Fit EV's economy feel, such as thin seat cushions and plastic interior details, is immediately forgotten. If you know that you only need 40 or 50 miles of driving for the day, then why not have some fun? The Fit EV, in Sport is an absolute blast to drive (maybe even dangerous when it comes to speeding tickets).

Another innovation was the key fob-thingy, on the same keychain with the regular key that you turn to start the car. Push a little power button on the side of the remote unit, and presto—it shows you battery state of charge. There are apps and websites that will do this for other EV, but the convenience of having it right in your hand before you leave the house, or while sitting at your desk, is fantastic. The fob also allows you to engage climate control or start charging—but it’s the SOC meter display was the most appreciated.

The last production units will continue to be delivered to customers on waiting lists throughout spring and summer 2014. The Honda Fit EV will then remain on the road for the duration of the lease periods contracted by its drivers. Then, unfortunately, like other electric cars that were offered for lease—but not for sale— the Fit EV will likely vanish from US roadways. Honda is apparently now putting its effort on conventional and plug-in hybrids, as well as fuel-cell electric cars, so it's hard to say if its research and production regarding pure battery-powered electric cars will bring about any future EVs.

Honda Fit EV specifications

Availability: Discntd.
Base MSRP: $36600
Est. tax credit: $7500
Technology: Electric Vehicle
Body type: Sedan
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 82 miles pure electric
Battery size: 20 kWh
Charging rate: 6.7 kW

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