Monday, August 9, 2010

Honda Fit Hybrid To be Cheapest in Japan

2010 Honda Fit

2010 Honda Fit. A hybrid version will go on sale in Japan in October, and is expected in the U.S. in 2011.

If Honda�"s pricing strategy for introducing the Honda Fit Hybrid in Japan is any indication, then the compact gas-electric car soon will be America�"s most affordable hybrid.

The Tokyo Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun newspapers this week reported that Honda plans to sell the Fit Hybrid for about $18,600. That�"s approximately $3,500 less than the Honda Insight, currently the cheapest hybrid, and about $4,600 more than the gas-powered Fit. Pricing for the Japanese market does not move in sync with U.S. pricing�but a similar strategy in the U.S. would put the base MSRP around $17,000. The Honda Fit Hybrid is expected in 2011. Honda will launch the Fit Hybrid at the Paris Auto Show this fall.

Japanese subsidies for fuel-efficient cars have helped make the Toyota Prius the top-selling car for the past 15 months. Some of the subsidies are scheduled to end next month, a move forcing hybrid makers to more aggressively compete on price.

In the U.S., the cost premium for hybrids has been a critical obstacle for moving hybrids into the mainstream. Hybrids represent approximately 2.5 percent of the new car market. Honda attempted to market the redesigned Honda Insight hybrid as an affordable �Shybrid for the masses,⬝ but the Prius-look-alike is only slightly cheaper than the Prius, while offering less room and lower mpg. The Honda CR-Z hybrid coupe, which goes on sale this fall, similarly falls short on its promise to combine fuel economy and sportiness at a competitive price.

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