Honda goes looking for a few extra MPGs in Canada

The latest news on the Honda vs, the Canadian government issue has Honda Canada now hoping to tweak its Fit and Civic models to qualify for Canada's auto rebate program (the so-called ecoAuto program). The ecoAuto program is a bit like the U.S. gas guzzler tax combined with our incentives for hybrids. Honda hopes it can improve the mileage on these two cars just enough to earn the $1,000 CDN rebate offered to buyers of fuel efficient vehicles that use less than 6.5 liters/100km. Honda engineers back in Japan are working on the issue and hope they can find a way to get better mileage, without sacrificing either car's safety or driveability.

The ecoAuto program gives buyers of the most fuel-efficient models rebates ranging from $1,000 to $2,500, but also penalizes gas guzzlers up to $4,000. Cars like the Toyota Yaris sail right under the specified economy ratings of 6.5 liters/100km, but Honda just missed with its popular Fit that achieves 6.6 liters/100km. The Civic, meanwhile, consumes about 7.0 liters/100km. In fact, Honda was pretty upset that the standard was set just below the Fit's ratings, and decided to offer $1,000 of its own money to buyers of 2007 models. Critics of the program have even called it "the Yaris subsidy program" since Yaris sales were up significantly more than Fit sales when the program was announced, but Honda's own rebates brought Fit sales back.

While Honda works to get that extra fuel economy, it doesn't even know if the standards will be the same in 2008. There is some talk that the qualifying criteria could be lowered on 2008 models. The reason for the possible change is that Canada was using the new EPA standards introduced last year to better reflect real world driving conditions. Those EPA ratings are now under review as a proper standard for the Canadian program. Sigh, such drama. We'll keep you posted.

[Source: The Toronto Star]

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