Honda Cuts Electric Fit Lease Payment to Spark Demand

Honda Motor Co. (7267) is trimming the lease price for its electric Fit hatchback by a third as the carmaker follows similar moves by General Motors Co. (GM) and Nissan Motor Co. (7201) to boost demand for plug-in models.

The monthly fee to lease a Fit EV for 36 months will drop to $259, from $389 previously, with no down payment, from June 1, Honda said yesterday in a statement. Customers who’ve already leased one will pay the lower rate starting in June. The company also said it will provide a 240-volt charger at no cost with the lease, which includes collision insurance coverage.

With the changes, the car is “the only EV on the market with no down payment, unlimited mileage, collision coverage and a free home charging station,” said Steve Center, Honda’s U.S. vice president for environmental business development, in the statement.

While the rechargeable model from Tokyo-based Honda has better all-electric range than either GM’s Chevrolet Volt or Nissan’s Leaf hatchback, it trails both in U.S. deliveries since going on sale this year. Through April, Honda reported sales of just 68 Fit EVs compared with 5,500 Volts and 5,476 Leafs, according to market researcher Autodata.

GM and Nissan began low-priced lease promotions for their rechargeable models last year. Nissan is promoting a $199 per month lease payment for Leaf, with $1,999 down, according to the carmaker’s website. GM’s Volt plug-in hybrid is available for a $269 monthly lease with a $2,399 down payment.

Honda’s Fit EV is rated by the U.S. as averaging 82 miles (132 kilometers) per charge, compared with 75 miles for Leaf. Volt averages 38 miles per charge before a gasoline engine engages to power the car, giving it combined range of 380 miles, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Honda, with U.S. sales operations in Torrance, California, plans to deliver 1,100 Fit EVs in the car’s first two years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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