News Summary: Honda thinks lean for hybrid Fit

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PRICE IS THE KEY: Honda is making a big push with its new Fit subcompact to get out of being the perennial also-ran of hybrid cars to Japanese rival Toyota, the maker of the Prius. It's a challenge hinged on making the technology affordable.

CUTTING COSTS: Hybrids deliver fuel efficiency by switching between a gasoline engine and an electric motor, depending on driving conditions but cost more than gasoline cars. Honda's answer: Lean production.

EFFICIENCY GAME: At the Yorii factory, which opened earlier this year in Saitama Prefecture just north of Tokyo, Honda makes the Fit with faster stamping time, fewer robots and reduced paint coats. That makes for lower costs and greener production.