Special Coverage

Greater L.A. Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – Honda’s new electrified Fit compact car will be offered for lease-only when it comes to the U.S. in early 2013, the auto maker says at the auto show here.

Honda says it will take back the estimated 1,000 units at the end of their lease; none will be sold to customers.

The Fit electric vehicle will be rolled out in California and Oregon, followed by six East Coast states.

“(Leasing) is a cycle our customers are very friendly with,” American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel tells media following his press conference.

“We think the technology will continue to evolve very rapidly. We don’t want to saddle the customer with old technology.”

Honda estimates the Fit EV’s lease price will be $399 per month, reflecting a $36,625 base price.

The lease period was not released.

The auto maker predicts a city-driving range of 123 miles (198 km), besting the 100-mile (161-km) range given last year when the concept EV was shown here.

The combined driving range of the production model, including highway, is 76 miles (122 km).

The Fit EV will use a 20-kWh Toshiba-made lithium-ion battery pack, with a maximum output of 100 kW (134 hp).

The pack will be placed under the car’s floor to maintain the 5-passenger seating of the current gasoline-powered model.

The EV’s 92-kW (123-hp) electric motor is derived from Honda’s FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell car, which the auto maker currently leases in California.

Battery recharging time is three hours using a 240V outlet, making the Fit one of the fastest-charging EVs yet.

Mendel says Honda is not yet ready to announce details of an associated charger.

Drivers will be able to monitor their Fit EV’s state of charge via a mobile application and website.

Honda has set up a website for people interested in leasing the Fit EV. Additionally, a demonstration program that includes Stanford University, search engine-firm Google and the city of Torrance, all in California, soon will get under way.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com