The Honda Fit has sold more than 3.5 million units in Asia, North America and Europe since premiering in 2001. This compact car qualified for a fuel efficiency tax credit in the United States starting in 2007 while keeping MSRP well below hybrids. Honda also earned kudos from Consumer Reports and Car and Driver in recent years due to the Fit’s affordability, safety and fuel economy. The Honda Fit is evolving further within the Japanese market with the Fit Shuttle Hybrid now on sale in Japan.
Honda developed the Fit Shuttle Hybrid with Eco Assist, an onboard computer system that promotes fuel-efficient driving techniques. The Shuttle Hybrid team cut down on engine friction and the vehicle’s profile to ensure higher fuel efficiency. This hybrid also shuts down the fuel pump and ignition when the electric motor starts to cut down on gas consumption. These engineering feats complement a 1.3-liter i-VTEC engine as well as Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). Honda claims that the Shuttle Hybrid achieves a fuel economy rating of 59 miles per gallon, which is comparable to the Fit Hybrid even with a larger body and cargo area.
The release of the Fit Shuttle Hybrid coincides with initial sales of the traditional Honda Fit Shuttle. This fuel-efficient minivan consumes 44 miles per gallon using a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine. Honda notes that the standard Fit Shuttle is estimated to achieve the same fuel economy as the Fit compact car. The Fit Shuttle is priced from $19,900 while the Shuttle Hybrid is priced from $22,400. These rates compare favorably to the $15,100 retail price in the United States for the 2011 Honda Fit. Representatives from Honda cited a sales goal of 4,000 combined units per month by January 2012.
Honda’s eco-friendly bona fides are bolstered by the Fit Shuttle and Fit Shuttle Hybrid. The Fit Shuttle’s body panels and interior elements are built almost entirely from recycled materials. This commitment to recycled parts means that 90% of the body comes from reconfigured components. The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism certified both models as compliant with 2010 fuel economy standards as well as 75% emissions reductions compared to 2005. The Japanese market represents the laboratory where the Fit Shuttle Hybrid will be tested prior to a global release.