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Honda Sneak Peek: The Fit?

Credit Honda with not giving up easily in what will certainly become a big fight: the sub $15,000 price range category of new automobiles. Currently, only a stripped down Civic competes in this area and I mean stripped: no a/c, basic tranny, no radio! With Toyota's Scion brand catching on Honda is looking to fight back. A tiny car now on sale in Japan may soon find its way to a dealership in your neighborhood helping to turn the tide for the revered automaker.

So, why the big push in this "cheap" category? Chiefly because automakers know that if young and first time buyers have a very good experience with their entry level cars then more than likely they will stay with the brand as their lives change, i.e., get married, start a family, make more money, etc. This practice has been in place for years, although not as widely emphasized by all manufacturers and to their detriment.

Honda's long time low price leader has always been the Civic. Introduced to the North American market in 1971, the Civic was the original Honda for the western hemisphere and has been a value leader in its class for some time. However, like the Toyota Corolla, the Civic has been gradually creeping up market becoming better equipped and more expensive. At least Toyota slipped in a new entry level car a few years back, the Echo, but Honda has been without one. In addition, Toyota launched an all new brand, Scion, in 2003 to capture a bigger chunk of the youth market. So far, Scion has been a runaway success story.

Enter the Fit. Say, what?! Yes, a tiny Scion-like car sporting a 1.5L engine is already navigating Japanese streets. Unfortunately, the name isn't catchy and likely will have to be changed once the car is imported to the US and Canada. Let's just say that some of the names that rhyme with Fit are not exactly favorable. At least it isn't as obvious as Daewoo's Charade a car that really lived up to its name!

We don't know a lot yet about the Fit other than to say that Honda knows that they need to respond to Toyota and soon. Honda doesn't appear willing to create a separate brand to take on Scion, but a car in the class of the Fit will help Honda capture a bigger chunk of the all important youth market. With styling cues reportedly similar to the Scion xA, the "Fit" will likely be fitted into the bottom of the Honda line up. Paired with the Element, both vehicles will be perceived as true Scion fighters. At least Honda hopes that you do.

Submitted by:

Matthew C. Keegan

Matthew C. Keegan

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