HANS GREIMEL

Fit-based crossover? Honda could be eyeing new variant

Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
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TOKYO -- Honda has a few tricks up its sleeve for the next-generation Fit due next year.

Honda already has said the Fit will pioneer a new regional r&d strategy -- in which global nameplates will break from a one-size-fits-all approach and be developed and built locally.

But Honda apparently is planning a new Fit-based crossover to help it sell more than 1 million vehicles off the new platform, according to Japan's Nikkei business daily.

Those crossovers will mainly target the U.S. and European markets, and global volume could reach 400,000 units, the report says.

If true, look for a U.S. version to be made at the new Mexican plant Honda plans to open in 2014. That factory is already slated to make the Fit hatchback.

Worldwide, Honda makes about 800,000 vehicles based on the Fit platform, including the Fit hatch and its sedan-styled City sibling, the Nikkei notes.

Adding a crossover could push it over the 1 million mark.

The redesigned Fit is expected in the United States next year.

The car is already small by U.S. standards, but could a pint-sized crossover version catch on Stateside? To match demand for utility hauling, it might need more oomph under the hood.

The Japan market already gets a tall-wagon variant of the Fit, called the Freed. That model even comes in an eight-seat version, but that kind of load can put a strain on its 1.5-liter engine.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter

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