- When Honda introduced its all-electric Fit EV in July 2012, company set modest goal of delivering 1,100 of the lease-only cars in 2 years.
- As of May, only 176 of the plug-in cars had been sold.
- Consumers weren’t interested in paying $389 a month for EV that can go only about 82 miles before it needs recharging.
- Gasoline-powered version gets 30 miles a gallon and costs half as much.
- General Motors, with its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, and Nissan, with its all-electric Leaf, have also seen sales fall short of their goals.
- One thing that’s working: leasing cars at fire sale prices.
- Honda cut its 36-month lease rate in June by about one-third, to $259 a month, with no down payment and unlimited mileage
- Demand for Fit EV has surged; within weeks, Honda went from bemoaning stockpile of cars to apologizing to customers put on waiting list and promising that more Fit EVs are on the way.
- GM and Nissan are also offering steeply discounted leases on plug-ins and are other automakers in the EV space.
- Government policies, like in California, requiring minimum numbers of plug-in vehicle sales is inherently risky strategy, says Edward Cohen, Honda’s vice president for government and industry affairs.
- The mandate “directs manufacturers to offer consumers technology options along a predetermined time frame and with specified numbers, notwithstanding whether the technology and market are ready.”
- Fit EV’s newfound popularity will help Honda meet its quotas, but the low prices may not be sustainable.
- Rock-bottom leases likely mean little to no profit—Honda won’t say whether it’s losing money on the Fit—and condition buyers to expect the car to come cheap.