2013 Honda Fit EV: First Drive Of Honda's All-Electric Car Page 2

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2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

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The front and rear bumper fascias and side sill extensions have been reshaped to smooth airflow around and past the car, and a very different roof spoiler has been fitted over the rear window.

Together, those changes reduce the drag coefficient by 14 percent, Honda said, making the Fit EV as slippery as a longer (and hence more aerodynamic) sedan.

Sitting higher

The floor-mounted battery pack requires the entire car to be raised half an inch, with larger plastic trim surrounding the wheel-well edges to balance the increased height.

The rear seat also sits 1.4 inches higher and 3.3 inches rearward, with the backrest raked an extra 4 degrees to provide adequate headroom.

A 6-foot-tall man sitting in the back had adequate legroom, but only about 2 inches of headroom--and the rake of the seatback was noticeable and, to some, uncomfortable.

With the rear seat moved back and a flat load floor stretching from the base of the tailgate, cargo volume is somewhat lower than that of the standard Fit.

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

Enlarge Photo

More importantly, while the 60/40 split rear seatback folds forward, the seat is fixed and no longer folds down on itself and forward to open up the entire rear of the car for cargo.


Goal: fun to drive

Honda executives, including Sachito Fujimoto, the car's Large Project Leader, stressed that the company's goal was to build an electric car that offered excellent electric range, the highest fuel efficiency rating, short recharging time--and retained every bit of the standard Fit's "fun to drive" personality.

In that, we'd say Honda was largely successful.

Like an increasing number of cars today, the Honda Fit EV offers a choice of driving modes. The default is "Normal," with a more powerful "Sport" mode and a power-saving "Eco" mode--selected with buttons on the left projection of the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.

Normal mode, which provides 75 kW (101 hp) of motor output, is sufficient for most everyday uses.

Eco mode, on the other hand, which restricts output to 47 kW (63 hp), is grim and frustrating, and will likely be used only by the most masochistic...errrrr, dedicated...of drivers.

Honda Fit EV shown at Los Angeles Auto Show, Nov 2011

Honda Fit EV shown at Los Angeles Auto Show, Nov 2011

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Sport mode: the fun one!

Click the Fit EV into Sport mode, though, and the fun factor increases. It becomes a powerful subcompact, with lots of torque delivered from rest, and offers the ability to spin the inside front wheel when accelerating through turns--even uphill.

Honda said Sport mode gives the Fit EV equivalent performance to that of a gasoline vehicle with engines as big as 3.5 liters, though it didn't provide acceleration times.

It did provide the single data point that the throttle response and passing power in Sport mode was better than that of a BMW Z4 3.0Si in its own Sport mode.

While we didn't do any timed tests, we'd happily take the Fit EV on virtually any type of road knowing that Sport mode was there--not something we can say about every electric car we've driven.

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Comments (18)
  1. Looks like they're just putting this out for the publicity that it generates. Maybe the media shouldn't cover "compliance vehicles" to deny this, however, they may be just trying to gauge demand without committing to production.

  2. I, for one, am interested in what is being produced whether it is prototype, production, or compliance.

  3. A tough choice; support the 'compliance car' or deny them publicity. For me, it comes down to this. No publicity, no progress. If we all swoon over Honda's car there is at least some chance that they'll realize the potential and move forwards. If nothing, its success is a snub to their silly antics with hydrogen power.

  4. By not allowing the vehicle to be purchased and by having such a small number of cars available they are pretty much going to guarantee a poor response and low demand for the car. How is this a valid test of demand for a product? One might almost suspect they want to "prove" there is no demand for the technology.

  5. The Fit EV is the most enigmatic EV offering to hit the market. If it's just a compliance car why is it so darn good? And from a company that's basically the ICE king, it's ICEs powering anything from lawnmowers, motorcycles, outboard engines etc. My guess is it's a loaded gun pointed straight at Big Oil. Remember it has the Toshiba SCiB battery, the one that could be recharged in 10 minutes, the one that oil interests fear more than any other current chemistry, because ultra fast recharging batteries is what will make oil obsolete eventually. Honda doesn't offer that capability but the message to the oil interests is clear: a fast charging EV could be a lot closer than you think so keep those gasoline prices under control or else...

  6. I am really curious about the Fit EV. I wonder if Honda is taking it extra cautious this time. It probably wants to learn about the battery and peformance trade off as much as it can before it fully dives into the EV world. Its hybrid has been fairly disappointing, so I assume Honda would make sure its EV won't be a lot better.

    Also, I am curious on how the fan based cooling system would work in extreme heat (now with all the Leaf battery issue).

  7. Honda better hurry it up. The Germans are coming, the Germans are coming (BMW, VW) with their own versions.

  8. Car manufacturers should not be given credit for "compliance" unless the vehicles are actually SOLD. To lease only is just playing games.

  9. One must first crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Testing cars is critical to rolling out new technology. At least the lease is 3 years and is very inexpensive. No excuse to not get one if you live in the test market.

  10. Wow. Too bad it's not for real. Sounds like what I want, but I'm in ATL.

  11. I saw one of these in Hermosa Beach, CA, a few weeks ago. It already had white HOV stickers. I was a bit shocked and did a major double-take. Very nice car. I hope it does well in its limited production run.

  12. Great job John. Good to finally meet you this event.

    Yes, We are back to the 90's. This is Honda EV Plus all over again!
    Or GM EV1 all over again.

    I had an EV1 and I have been there, done this already. I don't know how many times an OEM gets to game the system like this under the excuse that they are "learning how people use a car".

    But this time it's a huge car sin as this little EV is so great and fun to drive.

    Shame on them. This is simple a great car product. I would hope carmakers were still in the business of bring us new and innovative products the move auto technology forward.

    They need to put this car out to the public and stand behind it.
    Just as Apple would with a tot new product. The public will get it.
    It just take time.

  13. Sorry for the quick typing. ;)

  14. I'd love to test their fan cooling on the battery here in Phoenix. That's all they do on the prius line and it seems to work fine but a real life test is always best wit each design.

    Too bad it's just a lease and not for sale.

  15. I wonder if the impact of temperature on NiMH is less than with Li-Ion?

  16. Hello John,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the Fit EV -- I'd love to be able to drive one! I have two questions:

    Is there less front headroom than in the standard Fit? I'm fairly sure that the rear headroom is reduced because of the battery pack requiring the space.

    And did you try the Eco(nomy) mode long enough to try the free-wheel coasting? I am hoping that the free-wheel coasting when you lift your right foot off of the accelerator pedal is implemented by all other EV's, and I would like to hear how it worked for you.


  17. a few points to consider.
    The BMW Mini-E program began as a one year lease 3rd party retrofit with no commitment to anything else from BMW. That limited effort blossomed into a two year lease extension for the Mini-E , then a phase two car which is the ActiveE, Then a whole division of BMW, BMW i to join BMW and BMW M, and then production plans with billions invested,under way for the BMW i3 and i8 coming late next year. So that's great progress for BMW and for electric cars.

    Honda, by setting the bar very low in a similar manor, sets itself up for success in future years. They could very well walk away in three years and crush the cars.

    My guess is that this program will also lead to other EV efforts similar to BMW's path.

  18. there is no putting the genie back in the bottle this time around :)
    I'm looking forward to being a driver of the Honda Fit EV

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