?Honda bows with Fit EV for 2013?
In true to form fashion for Honda, the Japanese automaker has held back in coming to market with a competitive vehicle in a given category, until they are sure that they have it right, and are not only able to compete, but to dominate that category. Development of battery -electric powertrains dates back to 1988 with research on the vehicle that would eventually become the EV Plus. Honda has since developed and marketed a range of hybrid vehicles featuring electric assist, along with the FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle, which is driven exclusively by an electric motor.
Welcome the 2013 Honda Fit EV to the electric vehicle marketplace, which boasts a world-leading energy efficiency of 29kWh per 100miles, and a gasoline miles per gallon equivalent of 118 MPGe (combined city/highway, adjusted). The Fit EV is capable of delivering an EPA-certified unadjusted driving range of 132 miles on a single charge utilizing U.S. EPA city cycle test methods, the adjusted combined city/highway EV range posted on the new Fuel Economy label is 82 miles – an ideal range for urban driving and medium-range commuting.
The Fit EV draws its motive force from a 20-kilowatt hour, lithium-ion battery and a 92-kilowatt coaxial electric motor/gearbox. The high-density electric motor, similar to the unit that drives the FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, delivers excellent efficiency and power while remaining quiet at higher speeds. Off-the-line response and acceleration times are comparable to those of a 2.0-liter or larger internal-combustion vehicle of similar size.
The system is made up of several innovative features, including a 3-Mode Drive System adapted from the CR-Z Sport Hybrid. The system allows the driver to select between SPORT (92 kW), NORMAL (75 kW) and ECON (47 kW) to conform to the appropriate or desired operation. In SPORT mode, quick acceleration adds to the Fit EV?s fun-to-drive nature. While in ECON mode, the practical driving range may be increased compared to driving in NORMAL mode. In addition to the 3-Mode Drive System, other energy-saving features include a new regenerative braking system and a highly efficient all-electric climate control system.
A 6.6 kW onboard 32-amp charger allows for convenient recharging of the Fit EV with a 240-volt circuit in less than three hours2. Honda has partnered with Leviton as the preferred Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charging supplier so that owners can easily equip their home with a 240-volt charging station. When using a 120-volt household current, a full recharge takes less than 15 hours. The Fit EV has a 12-volt electrical system and battery like a conventional gasoline powered vehicle for operating typical items like lighting, climate control, audio system and other features. The main lithium-ion powertrain battery charges the 12-volt battery through an on-board DC/DC converter.
The highly advanced Fit EV powertrain is nearly maintenance-free and is designed for easy daily operation. Special instrumentation provides concise information to the driver on power usage, state of charge and predicted driving range. To allow charging in the overnight hours when power companies charge the lowest rates, the Fit EV includes charge scheduling that may be set via the Multi-Information Display. A free Fit EV smartphone app is available, offering remote charge scheduling and other features. Charging can also be initiated via an interactive remote control with a range of up to 100 feet.
In terms of its appearance, the compact Fit EV shares its basic design and engineering features with the gasoline-powered five-door, five-passenger Fit and Fit Sport, and has aerodynamic upgrades and unique styling cues that set it apart such as: a revised and more efficient front end, grille area and lower fascia. The aerodynamically shaped rocker panels connect to the full-flat underbody for additionally enhanced aerodynamic performance. The rear spoiler and lower fascia have been redesigned, further reducing aerodynamic drag. Other unique Fit EV features include special 15-inch alloy wheels, EV badges, a unique frontal trim that connects the headlights and exclusive Reflective Blue Pearl paint. Another unique touch is the translucent blue dual charge port door.
I had the opportunity to put the exclusive Reflective Blue Pearl finished Fit EV through its paces recently in Pasadena, CA at the Rose Bowl complex. There were two specific autocross courses as well as a road course that included surface streets and freeway driving.
SUMMARY: ?Driving the 2013 Honda Fit EV is a complete blast. The power and torque are instantly responsive to nailing the electronic throttle. It delivers quicker off-the-line acceleration than one would expect. Nissan?s Leaf was on hand for comparative purposes on the autocross courses and there really was no comparison. The Leaf is a fine electric vehicle for commuting, but it lacks the performance capability and attributes of the Fit EV. The Leaf has but two modes – Normal and Econ.
The Fit EV was impressive in all three modes of its Dynamic Electric Drive, with Sport obviously delivering the highest fun factor, with the best performance (but lower efficiency). In addition to impressive acceleration, the Fit EV proved to be incredibly stable, while delivering a compliant and comfortable ride.
Is there a downside to the Honda Fit EV? No, not with the vehicle itself, but with Honda?s plan for acquisition. You can?t own one. Only 1,100 of these little blue pocket rockets will be released over the next two-year period, and they will only be available initially through a 3-year lease contract program to qualifying residents of California and Oregon. Five pre-selected market locations on the East Coast will be added in the future.
Honda?s rationalization for the lease only initiative, is to enhance the overall consumer experience by relieving them of any concerns over battery life or other ownership issues. Who knows, the company may change its mind down the road and allow the purchase of the Fit EV. Let?s hope so. In the meantime, if leasing is the only way to go, the EV is the perfect Fit.
SPECIFICATIONS: Honda Fit EV – 2013
|Base Price:||Lease only – 36 months / $389 per month, which computes to an MSRP of $36,625|
|Engine Type and Size:||High output, high efficiency synchronous Coaxial electric motor/gearbox 92-kW (123 horsepower) output, 256Nm motor torque (189 ft-lb) Advanced Lithium-ion battery: 20kWh capacity. On-board 6.6kW charger ( 120/240-volt capability)|
|Battery:||20kWh capacity. On-board 6.6kW charger ( 120/240-volt capability)|
|Transmission:||Dynamic Electric Drive – Single fixed forward gear ratio – Selector for Forward, Reverse and Park with ?B? position for increased regenerative braking rate|
|Drive Train:||Front mounted engine with battery pack mounted beneath rear floor|
|Suspension:||Front – MacPherson Strut with24 mm stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multi-link with 13 mm stabilizer bar
|Brakes:||Power-assisted front vented discs / rear drum with ABS, EBD, BA and TPMS|
|Tires:||Michelin Energy P185/65 R15 86T mounted on 5- double-spoke alloy wheels|
|Length Overall:||162.0 inches|
|Curb Weight:||3,252 lbs|
|Fuel Capacity:||00 gallons 100% electric|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||118 MPGe combined (132 city / 105 hwy) Combined adjusted range = 82 miles|
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not tested|