Many automakers fall behind schedule and delay releases but not Honda, not this time at least.  Honda just announced the Fit Hybrid will be released some 18 months ahead of schedule.

The Fit Hybrid is now scheduled to be released in Japan in the fall of 2010.  Why the nearly two years difference?  In response to high demand for hybrids, Honda has decided to build the first Fit Hybrid based off of the current version of the subcompact rather than waiting for their new Fit offering scheduled for release in 2012.

The hybrid will use a 1.3 liter gasoline engine and an identical hybrid system to that found in the Insight.  The Fit hybrid is expected to return 65-71 mpg,  an increase over the Insight if those numbers hold true.

The target price for the new hybrid is expected to be less than $20,000 and the company anticipates sales at more than 50,000 units per year.

With a small hybrid at a low price, Honda will once again put the pressure on Toyota in the ongoing hybrid war.  Toyota's subcompact hybrid offering is not expected to be released until 2011.  Maybe they too will move their production schedule to directly compete with the release of the Fit Hybrid.

Source:  Nikkei Newspaper Japan