Exactly 27,268 Fits have been sold through September, basically on pace with the 35,030 Fits that sold here last year, but nearly half the 79,956 Fits sold at its peak in 2008. (Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s the model year of my Fit Sport.) But that might not be enough for Honda, as Automotive News noticed:
In a press release Wednesday, Honda referred to the car exclusively as the Jazz and said it would be offered in Europe with a hybrid powertrain as the only offering. The automaker promised “strong and effortless driving performance and impressive fuel economy.”
Honda has declined to comment on whether the car is coming to the U.S. The automaker is offering its greenest cars in Europe for the time being — such as the upcoming E electric runabout — even as it adds more hybrid options in the U.S. on larger vehicles such as the coming CR-V hybrid crossover.
Let’s quickly review the Fit’s competitors. There’s the Chevy Sonic, which sucks shit. There’s the Ford Fiesta hatchback, which is a metal block of meh. There is the Mini Hardtop four-door, which is too heavy. There is the Mitsubishi Mirage, which is just depressing. There is the Nissan Versa Note, which, come on. There is the Kia Rio five door, which, no. There is, within Honda’s own ranks, the Civic hatchback, which actually gets better fuel economy than the Fit. The most exciting of the batch might in fact be the new Toyota Yaris hatchback, which will get a six-speed manual transmission. (Confusingly, the “2020 Yaris” you can configure on the Toyota website here in America is a Mazda2, not the 2020 Yaris that has a new global Toyota platform. Both have six-speeds tho.)
How many of those cars outsold the Fit last year? Well, the Fiesta and Versa ostensibly did, with 51,730 and 75,809 units sold last year, respectively, but those companies don’t externally report how many were hatchbacks versus sedans, so it’s hard to know. The Kia Rio did not come close, like the Mirage, both around the 20,000 range, same with the Chevy Sonic. The Mini Hardtop sold even fewer. Toyota, on the other hand, sold 27,209 Yarises in 2018, also not beating the Fit. (All figures per the automakers or, when not available, goodcarbadcar.net.)
All of which is a long way of saying that the Fit is still the king of its segment, both in terms of sales and sheer likeability. Still, Honda sold 1.6 million vehicles in the States in 2018, making Fit sales about two percent of that. And profit margins are notoriously small for automakers when it comes to small cars, at least in the U.S., making the argument for the Fit even harder to make.
And if you look at all this as a Honda executive, you may think, you know, whatever. Why even bother with the Fit in the U.S., when it’s Europe and Asia who actually want it? And I can’t really argue with that, since corporate executives are paid to be beancounters. What I can argue is that Honda should look itself in the mirror and ask, do we really want to follow the lead of the joyless hacks who run Ford and Chevy, who are rushing to get out of the American small car market, or do we want to have some respect for ourselves?
Which was the question I posed (in different words) to a Honda spokeswoman, who said that she couldn’t comment on future product. There’s still time, Honda, to make the right choice.