Honda Fit EV: Honda has launched the first all-electric vehicle that makes economic sense. Not only has it received an EPA rating of a combined mile-per-gallon-equivalency (MPGe) rating of 118 MPGe, and a consumption rating of just 29 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 miles, it actually goes for less than a comparably equipped Honda Fit Sport.
Honda has announced a $389.00/month lease program for well-qualified buyers that covers three years and 36,000 miles. Based on the EPA numbers, the monthly cost of electricity for 1,000 miles is $33.35, based on the national average of $0.115 per kilowatt-hour. That’s a total of $422.35 per month for car and power. Compare that to a three-year/36,000-mile lease for the Fit Sport with Navigation that comes out to $385.72/month, according to Honda’s lease calculator. The cost of unleaded gasoline at the current price of $3.547/gallon and the EPA-estimated 31 mpg combined for the Fit Sport with an automatic transmission yields a month fuel cost of $117.76 for a total of $503.48. The Fit EV saves you $81.13 per month or $2,920.69 over the term of the lease. Even better is the fact the electric Fit’s lease includes collision coverage, routine maintenance and roadside assistance for the duration of the lease.
There are a couple of “gotchas:” First, you have to be approved for one of just 1,100 leases that will be offered through October 2014 and Honda mentions “well-qualified” more than once in the fine print. Second, you have to live in California or Oregon or one of six Eastern states to be named later. Your mileage limit is 12,000 miles per year and there’s a $0.20/mile charge for exceeding it and there is no purchase option at the end of the lease.
In many ways, the Fit EV lease is similar to the program offered for the Honda FCX Clarity.
The Fit EV is more than a pretty lease; it has an EPA-estimated range of 82 miles and, if you have the appropriate 240V charging system, it takes only about three hours to fully charge. If you’re using the 110V outlet in your garage, it could take a while longer. Like 12 hours.
The Fit EV has a 92-kilowatt (123 horsepower) coaxial electric motor generating 188 ft-lb of torque mated to the driver-selectable, three-mode drive system adapted from the CR-Z Sport Hybrid. The Fit EV rides on a chassis with a fully-independent suspension. The Fit EV’s 20-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery has enough capacity to outlast the new Ford Focus Electric (76-miles), Nissan Leaf (73 miles), and Mitsubishi MiEV (62-miles).
“Just as important as the industry-leading fuel-efficiency and fast recharging time, as a Honda, the 2013 Fit EV will be an absolute kick to drive,” said Steve Center, vice president of the American Honda Environmental Business Development Office.
Inside, the seating surfaces for up to five are covered with bio-fabric. Apparently Honda hasn’t gotten the news that EV buyers prefer leather. There are illuminated meters that keep the driver informed about the charge level, battery usage and driving range. The meters change color depending on the driving mode selected (green, white or red).
You can’t have a battery-powered car without lots of battery-powered electronics: the Fit EV comes with a telematics system allowing the driver to be distracted by a smartphone, personal computer or interactive remote. In fact, the driver doesn’t even have to be in the car to use the systems: with the Fit EV smartphone and computer applications, the driver can remotely view the vehicle’s state of charge, initiate charging and activate the air conditioning and heater, to pre-condition the vehicle while the car is still connected to the charging station, which is actually a pretty neat idea as pre-cooling or heating the car while it’s plugged in will save a large drain on the battery: it’s easier for the system to maintain a temperature than it is to achieve it. The mobile application and website also allows the owner to set charging notifications and alerts to get the best utility rates. The Fit EV comes equipped with a standard Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System that can help locate public charging stations.
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: After a facilities upgrade costing more than $225 million, Daimler AG began producing the new Smart Fortwo electric drive today at the Smart Hambach plant in France.
“The new smart electric drive and the expansion of the Hambach plant are two important milestones for the future of smart”, said Dr. Annette Winkler, Smart’s senior executive. “With the new smart electric drive we are further expanding our leading position in urban mobility and making fully electric driving accessible to everyone. For this – and for the successor generation to the current smart – we are making significant investments in the Hambach site. And I am convinced that this is money extremely well invested.”
Dr. Joachim Betker, Head of the smart plant in Hambach, emphasised the ground-breaking integration of the electric version in the production process: “For the first time we have realised the consistent and perfectly integrated production of models with electric drive and those with combustion engines. In production, we are now optimally utilising the smart vehicle concept’s eminent potential for different drive systems.”
The Smart EV has a 55kW electric motor good for a 0-60 km/h (0 – 37 mph) time of 4.8 seconds and top speed of 125 km/h (78 mph). The the motor is powered by a 17.6 kWh battery gives the Smart EV a range of about 145 kilometers (90 miles) in city traffic. We’re not sure if there is perhaps some big difference in the cars going to Germany and the cars coming here, but the Smart USA website says the 0-60 km/h time is 6.5 seconds and that the car is electronically limited to 96 km/h (60 mph). In an urban environment at warm temperatures, the EPA’s LA4 test cycle indicate the Smart’s range is up to 98 miles on a full charge. That drops to 63 miles in combined city and highway driving. Of course, with a top speed of 60, highway driving is likely going to be limited, mostly by the driver’s chutzpah and/or other motorists’ patience.
Since the Smart EV is built with components from Daimler AG and joint ventures with Bosch (EM-motive) and Evonik (Deutsche ACCUmotive), Daimler says it is the first truly European electric car.
The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive goes on sale in Germany this summer and is expected to begin arriving in the U.S. in late fall. No U.S. prices have been set at this time, but German buyers have a couple of options: they can buy the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive for the equivalent of $23,650 for the Coupe or $27,500 for the Cabriolett and rent the battery for $81.33/month. Or they can just buy the whole shebang for $29,630 for the coupe or about $33,500 for the Cabriolet. It should be noted those prices include Germany’s 19 percent value-added tax.
The fall arrival will actually be the second time a Smart electric car has landed in the U.S. Daimler had a test program for the battery-powered Smart last year. 250 were shipped over and leased for a whopping $599/month, about the same that Honda charges for the larger fuel-cell-powered FCX Clarity. With leases like the one offered for the Honda Fit and those being offered on other competing electric cars, Daimler may need to rethink its pricing strategies.