I strode up to the Honda stand at the Tokyo Motor Show with one question burning in my heart, in my eyes, on my notepad: Why isn’t the Honda Fit planned for sale in America? What I got was a bit of a bummer as I looked over the rather handsome new car. “It is considered,” is all the head of the project could tell me.
“We have plans for the Japanese market and the EU at this time,” is how Takeki Tanaka, head of the new Fit put it to me when I first brought up the cloud that hangs over the new Fit in the minds of Americans. We want to know why we’re not getting this thing. We buy more Fits than any other hatchback like it, not that there are many for sale anymore. Ford won’t sell you a Fiesta, or any actual car for that matter.
The more I looked over the new Fit, the more it weighed on me that Honda still can’t commit to American sales for this thing. Other American journalists here in Tokyo weren’t too keen on its styling, but I appreciate it. It looks like a disgruntled robot, or a gigantic dustbuster from the next decade. It looks like what other hatchbacks should look like, not that Americans will know what that is pretty soon.
Honda hasn’t released specs on the car yet, and it copped to that being a letdown. “All-new Fit, with four pleasing features that specifications cannot express, world premieres” as its press release read. We did that it is getting a new two-motor hybrid system, and we got the general layout of trims:
The basic type of the all-new Fit offers both high-quality design and occupant comfort. This type will feature a simple and endearing design including a front face design with a gentle look and seamless and flowing exterior form.
This type strives to realize a relaxing and carefully-designed space with high visual and tactile quality by coordinating colors and materials, including natural-looking fabric seats made with high-quality materials, a genuine leather-wrapped steering wheel and Prime Smooth™ soft padding.
This type features exciting color coordination and adopts water-repellent materials for the seat surfaces and soft padding on the instrument panel. It is a sporty and fashionable type which will enable customers to enjoy driving just like they enjoy fitness and sports.
This type features an exterior design developed exclusively for the CROSSTAR as well as 16-inch aluminum wheels, which look good both in city and outdoor environment. As for the interior, water-repellent materials are used for seat surfaces and soft padding on the instrument panel. This type projects an enhanced image of compact and yet tough vehicle.
Striving to create a space where people can spend elegant and comfortable time, standard genuine leather seats were designed as an exclusive feature for this type while pursuing excellence in visual and tactile quality. For the exterior, platinum-style chrome plating and 16-inch aluminum wheels were adopted to increase the high quality feel.
A ness-spec Fit is cute, I hate to say.
What I wanted to know was how important of a question this was for Honda, and I asked how sizable the development program is at Honda. I imagined it was on a lower tier than the Civic, but by how much? “I’m not sure of exact rank, but it’s not a big difference between this and the Civic,” Tanaka explained. This is a big deal for Honda, and it surprised me more that the company would leave America out of it.
Tanaka couldn’t speak to how long the new Fit was in development, or how far down the line the car was when America was cut out of the plans. (“That’s confidential,” he repeated a few times.)
Eventually he walked things back a bit. He told me that America isn’t entirely out of the cards for the Fit. “It is considered,” were his exact words, as above.
Honda would have to work to meet additional emissions and collision regulations for sale in the United States, and while the exact cost of that was, again, confidential as Tanaka put it, Honda should really spend that cash for it. Ford and GM dropping cars from their lineups feels incredibly short-sighted these days in America, as everyone sort of anticipates economic trouble in the future, and cheap gas’ reign to end. I told Tanaka as much, and he smiled and said he’d pass that along.