Honda plans to bring Fit hybrid variants to the US

Article by Anita Panait, on July 22, 2013

Honda Motor Co. is intending to bring hybrid variants of the Fit subcompact to the United States with its redesign. Honda will start selling third generation of the hatchback in the country by next summer, sales commencing in Japan this September. US dealers are not expected to receive the hybrid version of the standard Fit, but Honda is planning to create hybrid versions of a Fit-based small crossover and sedan for the US, which rollouts are expected as early as 2014.

Honda is betting on its newly developed one-motor gasoline-electric drivetrain, called Sport Hybrid Intelligent-Dual Clutch Drive, to challenge the dominance of Toyota hybrids in the US.

For years, Honda has been using the integrated motor assist system, but is shifting to Sport Hybrid Intelligent-Dual Clutch Drive, which the carmaker says boasts of better fuel economy than the outgoing system. The Honda Fit underlines the carmaker’s latest attempt to refresh its styling. It is also first product of Honda’s revamped global product development strategy, which targets to better tailor vehicles to local markets and regional manufacturing abilities.

The hybrid version of the Fit also allows Honda to better compete in the small hybrid segment. Honda’s other hybrids -- the Insight and the CR-Z – did not succeed in the US, unlike the Toyota Prius C. Toyota posted a 27-percent jump in sales of the Prius C subcompact in the first half of June 2013 to 20,575 units. .The US version of the standard Fit and its crossover variant will be built at Honda’s Celaya site in Mexico, which will commence operations in spring 2014.

The site is expected to produce 200,000 Fits and Fit crossovers for the North America annually. Globally, the standard Fit will be powered by a 1.3-liter port-injection or 1.5-liter direct-injection version of Honda's new Earth Dreams engine and mated with Earth Dreams continuously variable transmission.

Honda is expected to offer only the 1.5-liter engine in the US. The hybrid version, meanwhile, will be powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine paired to seven-speed dual clutch transmission and 22-kW electric motor and lithium ion battery.

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