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Discussion Starter #1
Nikkei Newspaper reports Honda will introduce Fit Hybrid during 2007 (probably year 08 model)

Several interesting points from Japanese Nikkei online news
Price difference between regular gas model will be about 200k yen (US$1695)
Engine: 1000 cc
Will be available worldwide, including Europe, US, China and Asia
This Fit will be based on a FMC Fit.
Build at Susuka plant in Japan

*Assuming US$1 = 118 yen

I found this from Japanese Nikkei newspaper site. You should find about this news in English news sites soon.

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In Japanese
Link
http://www.nikkei.co.jp/news/sangyo/200 ... 22006.html

ホンダ、低価格ハイブリッド車・フィットに導入

 ホンダは2007年度にも小型の低価格車「フィット」にガソリンエンジン・電気モーター併用のハイブリッド車を導入、世界で販売する。現在のハイブリッド車はトヨタ自動車を含めて中・大型車が中心で、価格は200万円以上。ガソリン高から世界で小型車シフトが進むなか、ホンダは初の100万円台を実現、大型車志向のトヨタと戦略の違いを打ち出し追撃する。ガソリン車との価格差も従来の半分以下の20万円程度に縮める計画で、ハイブリッド車普及に弾みがつきそうだ。

 現行のフィット(排気量1300―1500cc)の全面改良に合わせ、ハイブリッド車を設定する。1000cc級エンジンを開発し、モーターなどと組み合わせて主力工場の鈴鹿製作所(三重県鈴鹿市)で生産。欧米に輸出し、中国などアジアでの販売も検討する。 (07:00)

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Update 3

From 02-23 Nikkei web site, at press release of Honda Zest (a new K-car for Japanese market)

Hybrid related summery
President Fukui said no decision has been made on Fit hybrid. He also said that Honda hybrid system match better with smaller cars.

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http://car.nikkei.co.jp/news/business/i ... 223c2001c6

【ゼスト会見 一問一答】「軽からの撤退も考えたが…」 ホンダ 福井威夫社長


会見で質問に答えるホンダの福井威夫社長
 2006年2月23日(木)、ホテル イースト21東京(東京都江東区)で開かれたホンダ「ゼスト」発表会見での福井威夫社長の一問一答は以下の通り。

―― 一部報道で「フィット」のハイブリッド車を販売するとあったが本当か

 次期「フィット」については現段階では申し上げられない。昨年から私が繰り返しているのは、ハイブリッド車が広く普及するにはコストの課題をクリアしなければいけないということ。それは簡単ではなく、ホンダも高い目標を掲げて実現しようとしている。「フィット」でハイブリッド車を出すということはまだ決定していない。

――メーカーとして小さなクルマの販売が増えると、収益力に陰りが出るのではないか

 小さいクルマの販売台数が増えていることは否めない。軽自動車が私たちにとって大変重要なカテゴリーだと認識している。引き続き力を入れていきたい。収益性については、小さいクルマだからダメだとは思っていない。



■ ここから先、会見後の記者団とのやりとり

――なぜ今、このタイミングで新型の軽乗用車を投入したのか

 現在、ホンダの軽乗用車の主力モデルは「ライフ」だが、「ゼスト」とすみ分けができると思う。「ライフ」は女性のお客様が多いので、もう少し幅広いお客様を取り込みたい。

――ホンダにとっての軽乗用車の位置づけは

 数年前には軽から撤退することも考えていたが、現段階ではまったくそういうことは頭にない。ホンダが毎年80万台から90万台のクルマを売っていく中で、軽の品揃えは非常に重要になる。国内市場で軽乗用車の販売台数は全体の33%を占めている。ホンダとしてもその割合に近い数字は必要で、達成できなければ、業界並みではないということだ。

――ハイブリッド車普及にはどれくらいのコスト削減が必要か

 ホンダには「シビック」と「アコード」、それから「インサイト」という3車種のハイブリッド車がある。「シビック」クラスの燃費を考えると、普通車との価格差が20万円程度に収まらなければ購入するメリットが感じにくい。現段階ではまだそこまでいっておらず、生産設備、開発面も含めて努力している。ホンダのハイブリッドシステムの場合、色々と試してみたが、小さいクルマに搭載した方が合っているようだ。

――今春から販売チャンネルを統合する

 3月1日から販売チャンネルの統合により、大都市圏での販売網は強化される。「ゼスト」の投入により確実に販売台数が増えるだろう。販売チャンネルの統合は、お客様のことを考えて実行した。もちろんプラス面、マイナス面はある。ひとつの販社の規模が大きくなる方がクルマを仕入れたり、試乗車を入れる時のコストなどでメリットがある。

――ホンダ労組が一律1000円の賃上げを要求しているが

 単年度で収益が出ても、いったん要求通りにベア(ベースアップ)を認めてしまっては、もう下げられない。国際競争力の面からも考えなければならない。今のレベルで1000円のベアを要求されても……。1000円のベア負担は、ボーナス分を含めると年1万7000―1万8000円にもなってしまう。業績をにらみながら考えたい。


 >>ホンダ、新型の軽自動車「ゼスト」発表



[2月23日、ニュース編成部 吉田竜、武藤邦雄]

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Update 2
Looks like english version of this news at several site including Washington Post is from Reuters.
http://today.reuters.com/business/newsA ... RID-DC.XML

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Current Fit (Jp market) price range is 1,123,500 to 1,690,500 yen (US$ 9,521 to $14,326). Price for Hybrid could be those price plus $1650. Reuters article says it will be around 1.4 million yen ($11,790), but Japanese Reuter and Nikkei sites doesn't say such a exact price #. The Japanese article exact words, Hyaku-man-yen-dai "100万円台", means price ranging 1 to 2 milion yen (I'm a native Japanese by the way). 1.4 million yen or $11,790 Fit Hybrid is maybe possble, but I doubt Honda will price it that low. I think Fit hybrid price will be higher end of Fit lines. Note that 2006 US 1st generation Fit price range is $12k to $13K. If the 2nd generation US Fit remain similar price range, Fit Hybrid could be $14-15K. Timing of 2nd generation US Fit introduction is another big question. If they delay US a few years, they may keep Insight until Fit hybrid come to US.

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Update
Here is the article in English from Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 02173.html

Honda to sell low-cost hybrid car in 2007/08: report

Reuters
Tuesday, February 21, 2006; 11:29 PM



TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co. <7267.T> plans to sell a hybrid version of its popular Fit subcompact model globally as early as the business year starting in April 2007, the Nihon Keizai business daily reported on Wednesday.

Japan's third-biggest auto maker aims to sell the Fit hybrid for around 1.4 million yen ($11,790), or about 200,000 yen more than the gasoline-only version, likely making it the world's first hybrid to cost less than 2 million yen ($16,840), the newspaper said.

A spokesman denied the auto maker had made any decision, but added that Honda had the technological wherewithal to mount its hybrid system, which twins an electric motor and a conventional engine to save fuel, on most of its vehicles.

Chief Executive Takeo Fukui has long said the price premium for a hybrid over a gasoline-only car needs to fall below 200,000 yen ($1,680) for the powertrain to go mainstream.

With hybrid systems still costing auto makers -- and customers -- thousands of dollars, Fukui has said Honda had not made a strategic decision yet to produce the gasoline-electric vehicles in big volumes, unlike rival Toyota Motor Corp. <7203.T>, which has aggressively promoted their proliferation.

A decision to offer a hybrid version of the mass-volume Fit -- Honda's best-selling model in Japan and due to debut in the United States soon -- would suggest the auto maker is a step closer to committing to the powertrain longer-term.

Honda also sells hybrid versions of its two best-selling cars, the Accord and Civic, at a premium of around 300,000 yen ($2,525). Its hybrid-only Insight coupe was the first gasoline-electric car to be sold in the United States.

Honda is developing a smaller motor and battery to reduce the hybrid's cost and weight, the Nihon Keizai said. It will twin the hybrid unit with a one-liter engine for the Fit, the paper added.

Toyota also aims to halve the production and selling cost of a hybrid system. It currently sells many of its hybrid models at a premium of around 500,000 yen ($4,200).

Honda, Toyota and Ford Motor Co. <F.N> are so far the world's sole mass-producers of hybrid passenger cars. Laggards like General Motors Corp. <GM.N> have argued that hybrid systems are most suitable for large vehicles due to the added weight from the extra components.

Compact cars are also generally fuel-efficient to begin with, and the extra cost of a hybrid car may be more difficult to justify, depending on how much can be saved at the pump.

The newspaper said the Fit hybrid would have fuel economy comparable to that of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, which the auto makers advertise in Japan as getting around 35-36 km to a liter (82-84 miles per gallon).

($1=118.78 yen)
 

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I think the Fit is the same car as the Jazz sold here in Europe. Which makes sense since the Honda dealer in Chambery told me about a month ago that Honda was definitely bringing in a hybrid Jazz, he talked about perhaps the end of this year. He was hoping it was going to have the same motor the Insight runs. Could be a cool little car, especially if they keep the price down. Trouble is over here Hondas are invariably thoroughly dressed up; basic stripped down Hondas don't seem to exist, at least here in France.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I hope Honda keep Insight.

Hope this new Fit hyrid engine is the update version of Insight's, so Insight II could be possibility. That could mean lowering shared hybrid parts by mass volume. So, by sharing those parts Honda can make a more advanced new Insight with a similar to currrent Insight MSRP (without taking loss by selling it). But since the article says Honda want close the hybrid and regular model price gap in half, that mean they want to focus on cost reduction rather than maximizing fuel efficency with the most advanced technology like they put on Insight. So, probably no Insight II.
 

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Last week, I asked my local dealer about the Fit. He confirmed that the Fit really is the Jazz. Since Honda usually runs 5 years per model change, he was assuring me that if I got a Fit, it would not be a "first year car". In other words, Europe has already had this car several years, so bugs in the design have already been discovered and dealt with.

He didn't expect a hybrid Fit until the model change two years from now.

Also, don't get too excited about the price. Even for the conventional Fit, only the "Sport" model will be initially released (which, not surprisingly, costs more).

At 38mpg highway, it gets basically the same mileage as my 1992 Civic Hatchback. Functionally, it seems to be a taller Civic. More storage height, though perhaps not more length.

My wife plays keyboard in a band. Her 88-key keyboard is awkward in the Civic. She actually prefers to take it in the Insight (wedged between the headrests), though she really wants something big enough to take the keyboard and amp (which the Insight does, plus another person) and a drum kit and two or three more people. The Civic won't do that.

The Fit might. So, she's considering it.

A hybrid Fit might be worth waiting for, but then, given how much bigger and heavier the Fit is than the Insight, I'd be very surprised if a hybrid Fit would touch the Insight's mpg. Remember that a hybrid engine is only part of the Insight's design. It's lighter than the Fit and shoves less air out of the way in passing. Still, if it matched the Prius's carrying capacity and at least matched it's mpg, the world would have one more really sensible car.

The dealer test drove the Fit on a test track. Anti-skid brakes, great handling and side curtain airbags to cover most of the glass on side impact... It looks like a decent car, and compared to the US fleet, remarkably efficient (though not in the same class as the Insight).
 

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Will the Fit/Jazz be made of aluminum? I like aluminum.

BTW, as a fellow (amateur) musician, any car I buy has to pass the "harp test." My larger harp fits in the back of the Insight with the passenger seat all the way forward. The previous incarnation of the Prius failed the test, as did the Civic hybrid.

My local dealer, who fortunately sells both Honda and Toyota, was amused but very cooperative while I figured this out.
 
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