Honda Says it will Not Sell New Hybrid Fit in U.S.

Honda Motor Company has chosen this year’s Paris auto show as the venue for the launch of its hybrid Jazz / Fit small car. Japan’s No. 2 automaker says the model will be first small-segment vehicle available.

Honda currently markets a non-hybrid version of the five-door hatchback which goes by the Fit nameplate in North America, China, South America and its home market. The vehicle is sold as the Jazz in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The new hybrid model will feature a parallel hybrid system. The system will consist of the same 1.3-liter gasoline engine found in the Insight hybrid, teamed with a continuously variable transmission and an electric motor

In a statement released by the automaker, the new hybrid will run on pure electric power under some low and medium speed conditions in much the same way its Civic hybrid and Insight models do.

The Jazz / Fit hybrid will be slightly taller than the Insight but will offer comparable fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions. Honda has said that it will announce the official fuel economy and emissions data when it unveils the model at the Paris auto show.

Honda has given the new hybrid variant some distinguishing features not found on the non-hybrid model. They include a redesigned front grille and bumpers along with upgraded headlights, clear rear lights and a chrome tailgate. It has also upgraded the interior. The hybrid Jazz will feature a solid colored dashboard and will be available with leather trim. Until now, Honda has not made the leather trim package available to European customers.

Honda spokesman, Chris Naughton, said the automaker does not plan to market a hybrid Fit model in the U.S. because it feels the Insight hybrid offers American consumers a vehicle of roughly the same size at a comparable price point.

He also said that, despite rumors to the contrary, Honda has no plans of discontinuing sales of its hybrid Civic and Insight in Canada. Some recent reports had speculated that they would be pulled from the market because of their disappointingly low sales. When asked about the rumors and reports that inventories of the models were not being replenished, Naughton said, “Inventory may be running low in Canada, but we will be shipping cars to any dealers that request them.”

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