Next month the first deliveries of Honda’s highly anticipated electric car, the 2013 Honda Fit EV will kick off. As the Fit EV goes head to head with other full electric vehicles such as the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus Electric, we headed out to Pasadena, California to test drive the new 2013 Fit EV and check out the rest of Honda’s ever-increasing lineup of efficient vehicles!

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Honda, Honda Fit, Honda Fit EV, Honda electric car, electric car, green transportation, Nissan LEAF, lithium-ion, Ford Focus Electric, green car

The 2013 Honda Fit EV is Honda’s second electric vehicle, following the Honda EV Plus electric car that was released in 1997. Fifteen years later, the Honda Fit EV represents a new generation of electric vehicles that are more like “real” cars than ever before. The Honda Fit EV was just rated by the EPA with a 118 MPGe rating that makes it the most fuel efficient vehicle available in the U.S. With a combined driving range of 82 miles on a single charge and a charge time of less than three hours with a 240-volt outlet, the 2013 Fit EV is actually an electric vehicle that the EV customer can live with.

How does it drive? The Fit EV is based on the standard Honda Fit, which is highly regarded as one of the most fun to drive vehicles in its class. On our quick trip around Pasadena, the Fit EV showed that this nature was not lost during the switch from the standard four-cylinder powertrain to the electric drive system. The Fit EV handles pretty much the same as the standard Fit and in some cases may be even more fun to drive. Where the standard model makes do with a small 117 horsepower 4-cylinder, the electric motor’s readily available torque made the Fit EV feel even more powerful. The Fit EV also has three drive modes, including a “sport” mode that maximizes the output of the electric drive system. Of course the normal and econ modes will give you more driving range, but the Sport mode is there when you want to leave the Nissan LEAF in the next lane, in the dust.

Since Honda decided to base its new electric car on the existing Fit platform rather than a stand alone model, like the EV Plus, the Fit EV benefits from many of the other great attributes of the standard Fit. The Fit may be small on the outside, but clever packaging makes the car’s interior feel anything but small. By placing the battery underneath the Fit’s floor, there also aren’t any sacrifices in cargo space; the only big change is the omission of the standard Fit’s rear “magic seat.” In many cases the EV’s interior is a better place to be than the standard Fit with its standard climate control and navigation system.

Honda, Honda Fit, Honda Fit EV, Honda electric car, electric car, green transportation, Nissan LEAF, lithium-ion, Ford Focus Electric, green car

The Fit EV also comes with seats that are wrapped in a new environmentally friendly Bio-Fabric material. The Bio-Fabric Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) has the same chemical composition and structure as conventional fabric seat coverings and offers equivalent performance in terms of feel and durability. The biggest difference between the Fit EV’s Bio-Fabric seats and conventional seats is that the Bio-Fabric is made from on sugarcane-derived ethanol. The best part is that since the seats are made from sugarcane, instead of corn—which is another source for ethanol, the Bio-Fabric doesn’t put added pressure on the food supply.

The 2013 Fit EV has a longer driving range and faster charging time than the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus Electric. It’s only shortcoming, which applies to all electric vehicles, is a lack of infrastructure. For the most part, electric vehicles can only truly succeed in two car households, since they are limited by their range and the number of charging ports along the road. Either way, the continued expansion of the electric vehicle segment will continue to give buyers more options and foster more acceptance of them in the real world.

Honda has decided to only produce 1,100 Fit electric vehicles over the next two model years, as the automaker gauges customer demand for the Fit EV. If you want to get your hands on the most fuel efficient car in the US, Honda is going to lease the Fit EV for $389 a month, for three years. The rollout will kick off next month in markets in California and Oregon, followed by the expansion to select East Coast markets in 2013.

Early next year the arrival of the 2013 Honda Accord plug-in hybrid will give Honda a full portfolio of alternative-fuel green vehicles. The Accord plug-in hybrid will have an electric driving range of 15 miles and can be fully recharged in less than 1.5 hours using a 240-volt charger. Honda also remains committed to fuel-cell electric vehicles, like the FCX Clarity and continues to offer the only production natural gas vehicle, the Civic Natural Gas.

+ Honda