First Look: Honda Fit EV Concept

Honda Fit EV

Honda may be withholding the Fit Hybrid from Americans, but a pure electric version of the subcompact hatchback should reach our shores by 2012. Touting a usable range of 70 miles and a top speed of 90 mph, Honda introduced a concept of the Fit EV at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The Fit EV will use a lithium-ion battery to store electricity and an electric motor that has been derived from the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. On the EPA's LA4 driving cycle (used by most automakers to measure electric-vehicle range) the Fit EV is capable of achieving a 100-mile range. But with the required adjustment factor that accounts for real-world driving factors, that number is dropped to 70 miles. Like the recently launched Honda CR-Z hybrid, the Fit EV will have three distinct driving modes: econ, normal, and sport. Econ mode will extend the driving range by 17 percent compared to the normal mode. In sport mode, Honda says the Fit EV mimics the acceleration of a small car with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Recharging the Fit EV will take 12 hours from a 120-volt outlet and six hours with a s 240-volt supply.

The concept retains the same hatchback body and five-passenger configuration as the familiar gas-powered compact, though it does show modest cosmetic updates to the front and rear clips along with unique five-spoke aluminum wheels. The ability to communicate with the car via smartphone app is nothing new, but Honda is also touting an exclusive interactive key fob. With the small fob, a driver can view the battery's state of charge, initiate charging, and activate the climate control all without a cell-phone data plan or an Internet connection.

Honda President and CEO Takanobu Ito also used the Los Angeles stage to talk about the company's future electrification plans. Along with the Fit EV, 2012 will bring a plug-in hybrid with 10 to 15 miles of pure electric range. The hardware includes a 6-kWh lithium-ion battery, two electric motors, a gasoline engine, and a continuously variable transmission. In pure electric mode, which is available at speeds up to 62 mph, the plug-in hybrid will drive the wheels with only a 161-hp electric motor. Once the battery is depleted or at higher speeds, the gas engine can drive the wheels alone or work in conjunction with the electric motor. Recharging the battery will take 1 to 1.5 hours on a 120-volt line and 2 to 2.5 hours from a 240-volt outlet.

The hybrid powertrain has been integrated into a mid-size sedan platform for the auto show, suggesting the technology could first appear in the next Honda Accord when it arrives in 2012. However, Ito says that the powertrain package could be integrated into any number of mid-size or large vehicles.

Ito also said that next-generation Honda Civic Hybrid will arrive in 2011 as the company's first gas-electric vehicle with a lithium-ion battery pack.

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