The Nikkei is reporting (via GCC) that Honda will have a Fit Hybrid on the road in Japan in the fall of 2010. The new Fit will cost less than the Insight, which will make it the cheapest hybrid sold.
According to the Nikkei:
The company had initially planned to introduce the hybrid Fit in 2012, when the vehicle will be fully remodeled. Instead, it opted to develop the hybrid version based on the current subcompact and roll it out sooner to tap the anticipated market expansion.This is big news for anyone who's excited by the renewed competition between Toyota and Honda. If Honda keeps 'lowering' the bar by introducing cheaper hybrid vehicles, Toyota is going to have to continue to follow suit.
The hybrid Fit is to be equipped with a 1.3-liter gasoline engine and the same type of hybrid system found in the Insight hybrid. It is expected to deliver a fuel mileage of more than 30km per liter [3.33 L/100km, 71 mpg US] which is similar to what the Insight hybrid offers.
It will make it harder for other automakers to break in and compete, though. With a decade of research and development into just their hybrid engines, Toyota and Honda can afford to cut the prices to compete with each other. Ford, GM and so on may not be able to do the same. They'll have to find some other way of making their own hybrids stand out... say the E-REV Chevy Volt way?