Honda is planning to sell half a million hybrids per year globally with three new vehicles supplementing the Honda civic hybrid in its lineup.
The Honda’s automaker hybrid planning includes a hybrid version of the Honda Fit, production of the CR-Z hybrid sports car concept, and an all-new, small five-door hatchback hybrid, CEO Takeo Fukui announced during his mid-year address in Tokyo. Honda is billing the new hybrid as a lightweight and low-cost car, saying a “significant cost reduction in Integrated Motor Assist components will result in the most affordable hybrid vehicle to date.”
Smaller packaging of the nickel-metal-hydride battery (lithium ion battery technology is not quite ready for this car) and processing unit make it possible to position them below the rear cargo area so as to not infringe on cargo space in a hatchback, the automaker says.
In terms of propulsion, the Insight gets a smaller, lighter—and less-expensive—version of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system that is in the Civic. The smaller pack of nickel-metal-hydride batteries is stored under the trunk floor. Honda says lithium-ion batteries aren’t yet a viable option.
Adding a hybrid version of the popular and 10Best-winning Fit seems much like putting a second layer of icing on an already tasty cake. But in his press conference, Fukai is quoted as saying the premium for the hybrid over the conventional Fit cannot exceed $2000. The current price of a Fit ranges from $14,585 to $16,705. The hybrid reportedly would go on sale by 2015 with the third-generation of the B-segment car.
Honda has been winnowing down potential customers for month. They must live in California near Santa Monica, Torrance, or Irvine for public access to hydrogen stations. The first Clarity, with a driving range of 270 miles, is scheduled to roll off an assembly line June 16 in Japan.