Nasty Fit: Honda calls out Ottawa government over federal rebate

The Canadian p rovince of Ottawa government is learning the hard way that one does not mess with Honda Canada. We reported last month that the automaker was irritated its Fit just missed qualifying for a federal ecoAUTO rebate of $1,000 CDN that was established to promote the purchase of fuel efficient cars. The rebate applies to new cars that use less than 6.5 liters of gas for every 100 kilometers driven. The Honda Fit uses 6.6 liters/100km, which means shoppers who purchase a Fit aren't eligible for the $1,000 rebate. Honda claims it designed the Fit to be both safe and environmentally responsible, and refuses to sacrifice one attribute for the other.

One of the Fit's direct competitors, the Toyota Yaris, consumes 6.4 liters/100km, and is thus eligible for the rebate. As such, according to this report, Toyota is practically the only automaker in Canada not upset about the federal rebate program that officially began on March 19th. Perhaps that's because sales of the Yaris in Canada grew by 15% in April, the first full month the rebate was offered. Sales of most its competitors that weren't eligible for the rebate reportedly fell, some by double digits.

Though it has voiced its concerns to Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Honda is stepping out and fighting back. The company has bought ad space in newspapers across Canada and is publishing an open letter that criticizes the Canadian government's rebate program. If any Canadian reader finds the ad, we'd love to know everything that's said, but one quote from Honda president Hiroshi Kobayashi will be, "At Honda, we offer pride of ownership because we do not sacrifice safety for the environment." Honda is also offering its own $1,000 rebate on the Fit to match the government's offer, even making it retroactive for those who purchased a Fit all the way back to March 19th.

You hear that? It's Honda's Kobayashi saying, "Eat it, Flaherty!"

Thanks for the tip, Rob!

[Souce: The Globe and Mail]

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