Charged Up: Zipcar Rental Service Offers 2013 Honda Fit EV in Los Angeles Fleet

By Jacob Brown | March 29, 2013
Chances are that if you've been in a major metropolitan area or a college campus lately, you've seen Zipcars parked on city streets. Bedecked with vinyl "Zipcar" graphics, the cars are short-term rentals that provide personal transportation for those who may not otherwise have such mobility. If you're in the Los Angeles area, now you can rent a car that's a little greener, as Zipcar has brought on its first all-electric car, the 2013 Honda Fit EV. "We are thrilled to be able to offer Honda Fit EVs to our members in the Los Angeles area through Zipcar’s program with Honda," said Jeff Shields, general manager, Zipcar Los Angeles, in a statement. "The new EVs will enhance the sustainable transportation options our Zipcar members have available to them and allow Los Angeles residents and visitors to further reduce their carbon footprint, all while driving one of the most technologically advanced and fun cars on the road."
The Honda Fit EV is based on the current Fit, which will be replaced for the 2015 model year or so. Still, it is the first all-electric car Honda has ever sold to the public and one of a handful of different EV models that the automaker has produced since the late-1990s. Currently, it is available in California and just a handful of other states and can travel approximately 82 miles on a single charge using a 20 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The 2013 Honda Fit EV will be available for rent for drivers 21 and over for $8.75 an hour, plus subscription fees. It can be reserved online via Zipcar's website. It, along with the Toyota Prius, are the only cars in the Zipcar fleet that receive power to the wheels via electric motors, albeit the Prius also has a gas engine. For the inquisitive sort, the next time you're in Los Angeles, thinking to yourself that you wonder how electric cars drive because there simply aren't too many in Cleveland, take one for a rent and a drive. When we drove the 2013 Honda Fit EV, we came away impressed with the car. You might, too. Source: Zipcar
Joe Helmer
Joe Helmer

I've had the opportunity to compare several of the available electric cars. I've test-driven the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi "I" on several occasions. I haven't driven the Ford Focus EV, I've only sat in it.

I was beginning to think that driving an "ev" meant reconciling ones self to a second-class experience compared to the gas-powered vehicles I've driven. Then, I had the opportunity to test drive the Honda Fit EV. Nice! 

I had an obliging Honda rep next to me in the passenger seat. So, after I'd gotten the feel of the car, I put it through the kind of maneuvers you'd want to be able to execute, in a pinch, in real life driving situations. The "ev" battery gives the car a very low center of gravity and "glues" the car to the road, even when the car's ample, electric-motor torque sends you flying in the new direction you want to go. Nimble. Definitely nimble. I never put the car in "Sport" mode. I drove the whole time in "Normal". That's the mode one would probably be in when an emergency cropped up. Whether I was pushing the car's limits or just cruising along, it was a pleasure to drive, much more enjoyable than the Leaf or the "I". While I haven't yet driven the Focus EV, it has that common, "tunnel-vision" visibility that a lot of small cars have today. I hate that! In contrast, you have excellent visibility when driving the Fit EV, a big safety feature in my book.

For me, the only negative was that the roomy hatch storage area isn't perfectly level when the back seats are folded down. The storage area is seamless in the gas-powered Fit, but there's a lip in the Fit EV. Still, my hat is off to the Honda engineers. They whipped this EV together in a very short time (based on the fuel-cell Clarity and the electric Honda from years ago?) and it's impressive. And fun.