One year ago, Honda unveiled a prototype Fit EV electric car at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
This year, it showed a refined version that it says it will offer for lease next summer in California and Oregon, expanding into six East Coast markets early the following year.
Lease only, no sales
Honda plans to price the Fit EV at $36,625 (plus a mandatory $770 delivery fee), or slightly more than the $35,200 base price of a 2012 Nissan Leaf SV electric car--which is a larger car with far greater availability.
But the kicker to the announcement may disappoint Fit fans who were looking forward to an all-electric version: Honda only plans to lease the car (for around $399 a month over three years), not sell it.
And, Honda says, it's only likely to make 1,100 Fit EVs available nationwide from 2012 through 2014.
Disappointed electric-car advocates speculate that Honda is building the Fit EV simply to meet incipient requirements for a specified volume of zero-emission cars to be sold in California and the 13 states that have adopted its emissions requirements.
As a company, Honda has said it doesn't view battery electric cars as a viable business. Indeed, Honda's Ryan Carty said at the show that it doesn't feel "the technology is mature enough" for volume production.
No doubt Nissan might disagree.
Electric motor from FCX Clarity fuel-cell car
At the 2011 LA Auto Show, the company did release more technical details for the "production" version of the electric Honda than it had last year.
The Fit EV's lithium-ion battery pack, using Toshiba cells, has an energy capacity of 20 kilowatt-hours (slightly less than the Leaf's 24 kWh). It's located under the floor of the Fit EV, and can deliver a maximum output of 100 kilowatts.
Honda expects the EPA to rate the car's range at 76 miles of combined city and highway usage, essentially the same as the Leaf's 73-mile rating.
The electric motor that powers the electric Fit has a maximum power of 92 kilowatts (123 horsepower), and is derived from the one used in the Honda FCX Clarity fuel-cell electric car.
The onboard charger can recharge the battery pack at up to 6.6 kilowatts, which is fast becoming the new standard rate. (Nissan will upgrade its Leaf charger to 6.6 kilowatts when it begins building Leaf electric cars at its Smyrna, Tennessee, assembly plant early in 2013.)
This means a full recharge can take as little as three hours using a 240-Volt charging station. Honda didn't specify a supplier for the charging stations it plans to use, but said it will have made that announcement by the time the car launches.
The Honda Fit EV will have the company's usual Normal, Econ, and Sport modes, as do several other hybrid and plug-in cars.
It will come standard with a satellite-linked navigation system that will have charging station locations built in, along with real-time traffic display.
It'll also have the usual mobile-phone apps for monitoring state of charge, turning on cabin heating or air conditioning while the car's still plugged in, and so forth.
And, unusually, it will also have a small, battery-operated remote control that will do the same thing within 100 feet of the car.
Sign up for more info
The exterior color is known as Reflective Blue Pearl, and Honda notes that the seating surfaces use a special bio-fabric.
Customers who may be interested in leasing a Honda Fit EV or following the progress of the program can sign up at a dedicated website that went live yesterday.