When the next-generation Honda Fit arrives in the U.S. market next year, it may lack the engine stop-start technology found as standard on its Japanese and European counterparts. Automotive News reports that Honda doesn't think the lag in acceleration caused by the stop-start system will appeal to American driving patterns.
Honda Fit powertrain engineer Nobuhiko Shishido told Automotive News that restarting the car's engine and re-engaging the transmission can take up to a second, which would result in a big delay when drivers attempt to pull away from a traffic light. Hybrid cars, like the Honda Accord Hybrid, can use the electric propulsion motor to accelerate the car while the engine restarts, but that isn't an option on non-hybrid cars with stop-start. Shishido told AN that U.S. drivers with stop-start "will lose at stoplights" to other drivers without stop-start.
Moreover, EPA fuel economy tests don't give any extra points for stop-start systems, meaning that window stickers won't reflect the real-world fuel efficiency benefits of the feature. Stop-start also adds both weight and cost, as the starter motor must reportedly be larger than normal to start the engine as quickly as possible.
The 2015 Honda Fit was revealed earlier this year and is already on sale in Japan. Along with a new body that wears more creases and angles, and an updated interior, the Honda Fit adds a slew of more fuel-efficient powertrain options. The one most likely to make it to the U.S. market at launch is a 1.5-liter inline-four mated to a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. We can also expect to see the Honda Fit Hybrid here; it uses a 1.5-liter engine, an electric motor, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The Honda Fit will be built in Mexico starting next year, marking the first time the hatchback has been built in North America. The move will help Honda keep up with healthy demand for the Fit -- the car has sold more than 420,000 copies in the U.S. since 2006.
Update: A Honda representative declined to comment on the next Fit but said in an email that, "We recognize stop-start as an important technology for fuel efficiency and will be applying it to a growing number of models, both hybrid and non-hybrid, in the future."