Honda releases electric car

The electric car is equipped with Toshiba Corp.’s lithium-ion battery.

The new Fit EV has a single-charge mileage of 225 kilometers, one of the world’s best for electric vehicles, Honda officials said.

Honda Motor Co. on Aug. 31 began lease sales in Japan of an electric car version of its popular Fit compact vehicle.

It has a greater driving range than the Leaf, Nissan Motor Co.’s mass-produced electric vehicle model, although its battery capacity is smaller than the Leaf’s.

The Fit EV has achieved an energy consumption rate of 106 watt-hours per km, one of the most efficient in the world, Honda officials said, better than the 110 watt-hours per km for the i-MiEV, Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s mass-produced electric vehicle. The energy efficiency corresponds to the fuel efficiency in gas-powered vehicles.

The Fit EV is priced at 4 million yen ($51,000), including tax.

This is Honda’s first release of an electric vehicle model for lease sales in more than 13 years.

Honda hopes to sell about 200 of the vehicles in the next two years, mostly to local governments and businesses for the time being, rather than to general consumers.

“The electric vehicle market is still under development, and there is no established business model yet,” a Honda representative said.

In July, Honda released the Fit EV in the United States, where it hopes to sell 1,100 units in the coming three years.

Rival automaker Mazda Motor Corp. also plans to begin lease sales in Japan of an electric vehicle model, based on its Demio compact car, in October.