Honda threw a fit at what it saw as a federal endorsement of fuel economy over safety, as well as the unfair advantage it gave to competitors like the Toyota Yaris, which did qualify for the rebate but performed less well in crash tests. Honda even went so far as to offer its own $1,000 rebate on the Fit in protest.
In the meantime, Honda engineers have been going over the Fit to eek out a few more miles per gallon, and they've done it on the Fit equipped with a manual transmission. While confirming that they did not reduce the vehicles weight by deleting safety options to achieve the fuel savings, Honda was mum on exactly how it was achieved except to say "internal tinkering" was involved.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look they'll be able to perform the same miracle with the Fit that's equipped with an automatic, though in Canada the manual Fit sells more anyway. The Civic, which is less fuel-efficient than either Fit, has pretty much no hope of ever meeting the governments criteria for the rebate.
Thanks for the tip, Steve!
[Source: The Star]