TAKASU, Japan — Honda Motor Co. plans to bring hybrid variants of its Fit subcompact to the United States with the car’s redesign, as the Japanese automaker wagers that its new hybrid drive-train will challenge Toyota Motor Corp.’s dominance in the field.
The third generation of the Fit hatchback, one of Honda’s best-selling global nameplates, will hit U.S. showrooms by next summer and will go on sale in Japan in September. The U.S. version also will be the first Fit manufactured in North America.
Key to the revamp, which introduces Honda’s new design language with a new interior and boldly creased sheet metal, is a newly developed one-motor gasoline-electric drive-train. While the United States is not expected to get the hybrid version of the standard Fit five-door, hybrid versions of a Fit-based small crossover and sedan are planned for the United States. Those vehicles are expected to arrive as early as next year.
The new hybrid system, dubbed Sport Hybrid Intelligent-Dual Clutch Drive, greatly boosts fuel economy over the current integrated motor assist system. Honda has been using the outgoing integrated motor assist system for years in such cars as the Insight.
The new Fit is a Honda milestone for several reasons. It showcases Honda’s attempt to rejuvenate its styling. And the car is the first product of a revamped global product development strategy that aims to better tailor vehicles to local markets and regional manufacturing abilities.
Finally, the hybrid version pumps up Honda’s competiveness in the small hybrid segment. Cars such as the Insight and CR-Z hybrids have failed to gain traction in the United States, even while rival offerings such as Toyota’s Prius C successfully carved out a niche. Sales of the Prius C subcompact climbed 27 percent to 20,575 units through June.
Source: Wheels Dealers
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