New Honda Fit to have three body styles
Sedan, crossover to join hatchback
Honda Motor Co. plans to build three variants of its Fit compact, including a sedan version, at its Mexican plant currently under construction.
The two other variants are the standard hatchback and a Fit-based crossover, said an executive familiar with the plans.
Honda is considering selling all three in the United States, the person said. The company thinks a general shift toward small cars may fuel U.S. demand for a sedan-styled Fit. Honda currently sells a Fit-based sedan, called the City, in Asia.
A Honda spokesman could not be immediately reached Friday morning. The Mexican factory, scheduled to open in 2014 with annual capacity for 200,000 vehicles, expects to deliver as much 30 percent of its output to the Mexican market, the person said.
In October, Honda President Takanobu Ito told Automotive News the vast majority of the plant’s output would go to the United States. But he declined to give figures.
The outlook implies a big Mexican sales surge for Honda.
In 2011 Honda sold only 36,209 vehicles in Mexico. This year sales were up 53 percent to 42,933 units through October. Adding 60,000 would more than double Honda’s volume.
Honda’s new Mexico plant, its second in the country, plays a key role in Ito’s plan to lift North American sales 18 percent to 2 million units in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.
The Fit is expected to be the brand’s fastest growing nameplate in that period, after a redesign scheduled for next year.
Producing the Fit in Mexico will give dealers more Fits to sell unburdened by the unfavorable dollar-yen exchange rate. The arrival of additional body-style variants also will help.
Elsewhere in the world, Honda already sells a Fit wagon, minivan and sedan. Honda has said it plans to add a crossover, but it has declined to say if it would come to U.S. showrooms.
In October, American Honda Motor Co. CEO Tetsuo Iwamura said the Mexico plant will build "multiple" derivatives of the Fit, but declined to specify what versions are planned.
-- Hans Greimel
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I will say though that I see one small issue with the new Fit that's probably a good thing for Honda, is probably inevitable, but does annoy me. The Fit is starting to become a world car instead of a Japanese car. I don't like the handling in my wife's car, but I love how "Japanese" it is. Let me explain. Many Hondas like the Civic, Accord, and Odyssey are strongly Americanized. They have all been designed explicitly for the American market to American tastes, to be built and sold in America. That's all fine and a great move for Honda to adapt to local tastes. However, I fell in love with Japanese cars in high school. Meaning cars that were built and designed in Japan for the Japanese market but exported to the US market largely as-is and just hope that they sell. It's horrible business sense, but I love the quirkiness and kitsch of that approach. I like driving something a little different and a little off for US roads. It's part of why British sports cars were so endearing; it's part of the charm of Saabs before GM made them stop installing engines backwards. I think in a way Honda's success has killed just a little bit of the whimsy of their cars. Yes, I do recognize that the approach that I love would in the end bankrupt Honda eventually so I am sort of out of luck here.
Oh well, there always is the FR-S, Mazda Miata, and the used market.
Wow, this is such "great" news for auto workers here in the good old USA!
I guess it's time for all the unemployed in Michigan to relocate to Mexico. Perhaps you can house swap with all the Mexicans who are coming here illegally because there's "no work in Mexico".
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