Japanese automaker Honda — like its fellow countryman Toyota — has never been a fan of electric vehicles, choosing to make just enough of its limited-production Honda Fit EV ‘compliance’ electric cars to satisfy California’s zero-emission vehicle mandates.
As is often the case with limited-production plug-in ‘compliance’ cars however, the pro-hydrogen fuel cell company managed to build a fun, competent electric vehicle that got rave reviews from critics and prompted would-be owners to sign up on long waiting lists at certain key Californian dealers just to get a chance to lease one. Despite those long waiting lists and please for it to make more, Honda promptly ended its Fit EV production last year when it reached its planned 1,100 unit production figure.
Last weekend, long after original Fit EV production had ended, Honda announced it would be offering new owners the chance to lease a Fit EV for just $199 per month, with no down payment.
Before you get too excited however, there’s one tiny catch: the cars being offered are used Fit EVs, not newly-made ones.
The announcement, made last weekend at a gathering of Honda Fit EV owners at Honda’s Smart Home in Davis, California, was accompanied by the news that Honda would be offering existing Fit EV owners an optional two-year lease extension on their plug-in cars.
Unlike many other compliance cars, the Honda Fit EV was only available to lease, not to buy, meaning that at the end of their lease the cars will head back to Honda for resale or recycling.
Existing Honda Fit EV lessees will find themselves paying the same as new lease holders of used Fit EVs: $199 per month for two years with no down payment. That’s a drop from the both original lease price of $389 per month when the Fit EV first launched as well as the reduced pricing announced in May 2013 of $259 per month.
“Most Fit EV drivers tell us they love their vehicles,” said Steve Centre, Honda’s vice president of the environmental business development office last weekend. “Many have requested lease extensions.”
“This extended lease program is intended to meet their needs,” he said. “We’re very confident in how the vehicles are performing.”
Vehicles whose owners choose not to extend leases on will be re-leased as used vehicles to new customers, but in terms of future plans for the Fit EV, Honda seems reluctant to reintroduce the model to the marketplace, despite its small-scale, but noticeably loyal following and excellent reputation.
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