DETROIT -- Honda will wait to see how models such as the Nissan Cube fare in the U.S. market before deciding whether to launch a model smaller than the Fit here, said John Mendel, executive vice president of automotive operations at American Honda Motor Co.
If Honda does decide to enter that segment in the United States, it has several European models that easily could be adapted to the market here, Mendel said.
There are some bumper height differences, which are relatively easy to fix, he said.
Very small city cars are more attractive in Europe because of the high price of fuel, Mendel said. The roads in Europe are scaled to small cars. You cant drive a big car in Europe, Mendel said.
The first city car to debut in the United States, Daimler AG's Smart ForTwo, racked up sales of 24,622 in 2008, its first year in the market. Smart hopes to maintain that level of sales in 2009.
The real question, said Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of automobile product planning at American Honda, is whether the incoming Obama administration will raise fuel taxes. That could make very small cars more attractive because of their better fuel efficiency.
People vote with their pocketbooks, she said.
Cars can be both fuel efficient and larger than a minicar, however.
The 2009 Honda Fit sold in the United States is larger than the previous model, for example, but gets similar mileage. Said Mendel: Its all about fuel economy and not compromising on size.