Honda Subcompact Fit Hybrid On Sale In Japan

TOKYO (AP) -- Honda's new hybrid Fit subcompact went on sale in Japan on Friday as the automaker expands its green car lineup that already includes the Insight and CR-Z sports car.

The Fit hybrid will start at 1.59 million yen ($19,160), the cheapest of the automaker's gasoline-electric cars, Honda said.

The launch comes just after government subsidies designed to boost demand for green cars ended in September.

Japan's No. 2 automaker has no plans to sell the Fit hybrid in the U.S., but will introduce it next year in Europe, where the model is known as the Jazz.

Honda is locked in a tight battle with Toyota Motor Corp. in the hybrid market. Sales of Toyota's Prius hybrid -- Japan's top-selling car so far this year -- fell for the first time in 17 months in September.

Honda on Friday also introduced a remodeled version of its regular Fit, one of the company's most popular models, selling more than 3.5 million of the cars since it was introduced in 2001.

The hybrid version uses a 1.3-leter i-VTEC conventional gasoline engine and electric motor, allowing it to achieve a mileage of 30 kilometers per liter, according to Japanese calculation methods, Honda said.

The battery is stored under the rear cargo area so that it doesn't take up space in the car's interior and permitting flexible seating configurations.

The upgraded regular Fit starts at 1.23 million yen for the 1.3-liter engine and at 1.5 million yen for the 1.5-liter engine.