Honda’s Fit is coming back as an all-new car next year—and it’s bringing friends. The upcoming hecho-en-Mexico Fit also will spin off two Mexican-made models for the U.S. market: A Fit-based small crossover and a sedan likely called the City. In a recent meeting, Honda’s U.S. CEO said that we’d see the Fit plus two derivatives in the States, clearing up any confusion from the company’s global boss, Takanobu Ito, saying a few weeks ago that the Mexican plant would build the “Fit, City, and a new compact SUV model.” Until now, we didn’t know if the latter two would actually be sold here.
Originally developed for markets where customers downright refuse to buy hatchbacks, the current Honda City is a design coup: it’s a subcompact sedan that actually looks decent. Although Americans have become friendlier to five-door cars than have our counterparts in Thailand and India, where the City is a hot product, Fit sales have been hampered by the sole body style. At Ford, for example, the Fiesta hatch is a very strong seller—but it’s still outgunned by the dowdy Fiesta sedan two to one. The City could potentially double the Fit’s sales, which are on pace to just clear 50,000 this year.
Small crossovers may evoke the same gripe from you as ads for new singing reality shows—Another one? Shoot me now—but just as millions of Americans will tune out to “Vocal Cord Wars,” tens of thousands will buy Honda’s Fit spinoff. The CR-V, now in its fourth generation, is big enough for a smaller sibling, and Honda’s new jacked-up jackpot will join the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore, and an upcoming B-segment Jeep in the inchoate subcompact crossover segment.
Like you, we hoped that the announcement of Mexican-made Fit derivatives meant we’d be saying ¡Sí! to Si models. But Honda needs to get its mainstream house in order first, and building high-volume, lower-margin models in Mexico is a foundational move.Read full story »