August 20, 2008

Riding a tidal wave of sales, Honda's 2009 Fit comes to US shores a month early

It's no secret that small cars have enjoyed strong sales this year.

In an otherwise gloomy market, Honda has done so well with their Fit 5-door compact hatchback, the new model will hit US dealer showrooms by the end of the month, over 30 days ahead of schedule.

"We basically increased supply as much as we could to meet demand, and we were still going to be sold out of the 2008 model," Honda spokesman Chris Martin said in an interview with Automotive News. "We had to do something so that our dealers would not be without the small cars that buyers are seeking."

By all accounts, the outgoing model has been a runaway success. Sales of the nimble, versatile compact are up 73 percent from a year ago. More than 52,000 Fits have sold between January and August this year. And in July — the strongest month to date — over 12,200 units left dealer lots.

By comparison, the company's Acura division sold 12,800 units -- of all models combined.

Honda plans to ship 80,000 and 90,000 units of the 2009 model to the United States during the next 12 months. The second-generation Fit has been in production for over a year in overseas markets and is currently made in five plants around the world.

The Suzuka, Japan factory is the only one currently shipping Fits to the United States. Martin said Honda will consider increasing production at the Suzuka plant or increase US-bound production to one of its other plants if demand continues to rise.

The base sticker of the 2009 Fit, including destination, will be $15,220. Honda raised the price on the new model by $600 from the 2008 model.

The Fit will get up to 35 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in the city; we'll chart the changes in greater detail tomorrow.

[Source: AN - Sub. Req'd]

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