We've just spent a week with the new Fit EV, borrowed for an early look at the latest in a long line of electrified cars from Honda.
This foster child joins our growing EV fleet, which now includes the Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi i-MIEV. Unlike those, the Fit EV will be a lease-only vehicle, priced at $389 per month for three years. Honda plans to make available only 1,100 electric Fits at first. That's too bad in a way, because it's a pretty impressive car and some people will no doubt want to own one.
Unlike the Nissan Leaf, the Fit EV was not purpose-built as an electric car. Instead, it is a standard-issue Fit adapted to accommodate a drive battery, electric motor, and associated components. Those things intrude very little on this little car's abundant interior space.
On the road, the Fit EV acquits itself quite nicely with a healthy dose of thrust readily available, even in Normal mode, and decent driving dynamics. The added battery weight makes the standard Fit's choppy ride a little less bothersome, but the change in weight balance slightly takes away from the car's handling agility. The EV is quieter than a standard Fit, with very muted electrical whines, but the road noise remains. Brake pedal feel is almost normal, with the regenerative brakes causing little of the weird feel we've noted in some other electrics.
In Normal mode, the Fit EV's motor cranks out the equivalent of 101 horsepower, but it feels like more because electric motors give you all they've got right off the bat. Eco mode is notably slower, to maximize the range, while in Sport mode, with 125 horsepower available, it's easy to chirp the front tires.
The Fit EV uses a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery, smaller than the 23- and 24-kWh batteries in the Focus EV and Leaf, respectively. However, the EPA rates the Fit's range at 82 miles, which is longer than most other EVs. Honda agrees with the EPA's estimate, which so far has lined up with our real-world experience.
We've been getting roughly 85 miles per charge, and the range indicator on the dashboard seems to be right on the money, making no false promises. Charging times are relatively quick. A "full tank" of 19 kWh plus has been taking three and a half hours thanks to a 6.6 kW on-board charger.
Honda's efforts in the pure EV field in the past decade or so have taken a backseat to hydrogen fuel cell and compressed natural gas initiatives. With the addition of a fully developed EV, Honda now has a complete portfolio of alternative-fuel vehicles. With the apparent direction that EVs are propelling the alt-fuel market, Honda seems ready.