Honda joins electric car pricing battle with $259 lease on Fit EV

Honda Motor Co. is lobbing a grenade into the ongoing electric car price war, dropping the lease payment on its compact Fit EV from $389 to $259. 

The 36-month lease deal requires no down payment and comes with unlimited mileage, along with free collision coverage, maintenance, roadside assistance and a 240-volt home charging station.  

Honda’s move, announced this morning, comes after Nissan’s Leaf, Chevrolet’s Spark EV and Fiat’s 500e recently announced lease deals of $199 a month in an effort to entice more customers into all-electric cars.

PHOTOS: Honda announces lease deal on all-electric Fit

Automakers have had a difficult time selling the more expensive electric versions of compact cars, despite needing to do so to comply with clean air regulations in California, the nation’s largest car market. 

Though Honda’s Fit EV lease comes with a higher month payment than some other EVs, but other lease deals require down payments and have mileage limits. 

The Leviton charging station that’s included with the Honda lease retails for $995, Honda says, and customers will be able to keep it once the lease is over. However, buyers will be responsible for the installation costs, which vary depending on the home’s current setup.

Once installed, this home station will enable users to fully charge the Fit EV’s 20 kWh lithium-ion battery in less than three hours, according to Honda. The car has an EPA-rated range of 82 miles, and makes 100 horsepower and 189 pound-feet of torque in its default drive setting.

Not everyone will be able to get their hands on a Fit EV.

Honda has plans to make only 1,100 copies for the U.S. market, said Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman. And the cars won’t be available for purchase at the end of the 36-month lease.

“We’ve acknowledged, along with other EV manufacturers, that we don’t know how our 1,100 customers will use [the Fit EV],” Martin said. “We’re using this as a learning experience.”

The cars won’t be available nationwide. Honda said the Fit EV will be available only in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Existing Fit EV owners will see their $389-a-month payments automatically lowered to $259 starting in June.

Honda’s decision follows several other recent electric car lease announcements. Nissan recently reduced the monthly lease of its all-electric Leaf to $199 with $1,999 down. The smaller Fiat 500e is available for $199 a month and $999 down, and the tiny Chevy Spark EV was announced last week as costing $199 a month with $999 down.

Unlike the Honda deal, all three competing leases come with annual mileage limits of 12,000 a year.

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