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Honda’s funny math on cost of driving Fit electric vehicle

Honda is using funny math in the press materials for the all-electric version of the Honda Fit hatchback that went on sale this month.

The automaker claims that the cost of powering the electric car is $3,981 less over three years than an average of small and compact gasoline-powered cars.

Not really.

Honda bases its data on driving the Fit for 15,000 miles a year, or 45,000 miles for three years. However the automaker is only selling a lease for the car, and it has a limit of 36,000 miles. Any consumer driving the Fit to the 45,000 miles used in the comparison would incur $1,800 in penalties, reducing the operation savings to about $2,200.

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Honda officials said they picked the 15,000 miles number because that is a standard used for comparing fueling costs of vehicles by the Environmental Protection Agency. But besides the fact that a consumer couldn’t drive that amount annually without paying the big penalty, it also favors electric vehicles because they cost less to fuel per mile.

Here’s how it works. At 15,000 miles a year, a Honda Civic gasoline-powered sedan will cost $3,834 more than the electric Fit over three years. But if you take that down to 12,000 miles annually, the limit in the Fit lease, the difference is $3,097, according to EPA data.

The Fit’s 36-month, 36,000-mile lease will cost $389 a month plus taxes with no down payment. The contract includes roadside assistance, all maintenance and collision insurance, features that help reduce the cost of the vehicle compared to a conventional gasoline car. However, consumers leasing the Fit will be required to carry liability insurance at $100,000 per incident and $300,000 overall coverage.

Honda doesn’t offer a lease deal for the gasoline version of a Fit, but a similar lease for the slightly larger Civic is $220 a month with Honda picking up the first of the 36 monthly payments. It does not cover the cost of maintenance, roadside assistance and collision insurance.

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