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Honda Fit EV on sale in Boston

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  February 15, 2013 04:10 PM

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Thank goodness we were chosen.

By the month's end, you'll be able to lease a Honda Fit EV, the electrified version of the popular subcompact hatchback, at three dealers in the Boston metro area. Honda has selected just six areas on the entire East Coast to carry its little plug-in, including New York City and the Hartford and Fairfield areas of Connecticut.

Other than a closed front grill with a chrome strip, smaller wheels and some new gauges, the Fit EV is nearly indistinguishable from its miserly gasoline counterpart. The only noticeable change is the missing "Magic Seat," the rear cushions that fold up and let the owner carry obscenely tall things in a tiny car. In its place is a 20-kilowatt-hour battery mounted underneath. You'll need to borrow another car to deliver those big house plants from Home Depot.

I drove the Fit EV in California last summer during a Honda-sponsored press event and came away impressed with the acceleration, quietness and eager handling. Honda even invited me to race it on an autocross course -- that's how much fun this car is to drive.

The EPA-estimated range is 82 miles, and Honda says the car needs three hours to charge from dead to full on a 240-volt connection. With more public charging stations in the Boston area -- as I witnessed last summer testing the Nissan Leaf -- it's getting a little easier for drivers who want to go gas-free.

Prime Honda off the VFW Parkway, Honda Cars of Boston in Everett and Honda Village in Newton will sell and service the car. By the end of March, Honda says they'll have on-site charging stations installed.

But with Honda planning to build just 1,100 cars over two years, chances are you won't even see one. With those scant numbers, the Fit EV is less of a production car and more of a market experiment, a legal exercise, even, to satisfy California's zero emissions mandate. Many other automakers, including Toyota and Fiat, are following the same path. Other all-electric cars like the Leaf and Ford Focus Electric are available nationwide in much greater numbers.

Still, if you're curious and lucky enough, you can pay Honda $389 per month for three years. Honda won't sell the car outright, nor will it allow lessees to purchase the car at the end of the lease. At that price, you could drive off in a BMW 3-Series or an Audi A4, and you can't claim any federal tax credit since you don't own it. With Ford, Nissan and Chevy dealers offering cheaper deals, the Fit EV isn't the best deal in town. But you ought to try it out.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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