Exhibiting strong hints of what we'll see and experience in a production version that will go on sale here in 2012, the Honda Fit EV Concept made its world debut at the LA Auto Show. Honda says the new Fit EV is intended to meet the daily driving needs of a typical metropolitan commuter while still retaining the five-passenger versatility of its existing gasoline-powered sibling.

>See more new cars unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

Heart of the Fit EV in both one-off and volume-build form will be a powerful electric motor derived from Honda's FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle energized by an advanced lithium-ion battery pack. It also incorporates a three-mode (Econ/Normal/Sport) E-Drive control system adapted from the new CR-Z Hybrid as well as a number of "interactive coaching systems" to help drivers extract the most from each charge-up, including a special display that advises when to shut off the air conditioning or other accessories to conserve charge.

The new Honda Fit EV will have a nominal range of 100 miles on the LA4 city cycle (70 miles using the EPA's adjustment factor), and a top speed of 90 mph. Honda says that opting for Econ mode can help stretch range by up to 17 percent compared to the Normal setting and nearly 25 percent versus Sport, although that latter choice gives the Fit EV acceleration similar to a car with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine.

Like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF, the Honda Fit EV will permit its owner to monitor and control a wide range of critical vehicle functions as well as locate charging stations via a smartphone app or a dedicated internet website. The Fit EV also will come with a special remote control fob that can connect directly to the vehicle as well as a standard Honda Satellite Linked Navigation System. Charging times vary from under 12 hours using a conventional 110V outlet to less than six on a 240V dedicated system. To simplify the recharging process, Honda also unveiled a prototype charging stand for the Fit EV that allows a driver to merely swipe a card in front of the screen and then plug in for an electronic refill.

Later this year, Honda will begin real-world testing of the Fit EV and other vehicles as part of an Advanced Technology Demonstration Program in partnership with Stanford University, the City of Torrance, California, and Google, Inc. This research effort also will be used to gather information on a variety of ancillary issues, including customer behavior and usability, public charging infrastructure planning and sustainability initiatives.

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