When the world's most desirable consumer products—pick anything Apple—are made in China, why does it come as a surprise that a top quality car can be made there, too?
I'd heard that cars manufactured in China were looming on the horizon, but this Honda Fit looked like every other one I've driven, which are well-built, competent subcompacts.
Still, this Fit from the People's Republic of China is a focal point for a significant amount of curiosity. Friends and colleagues ask what it's like to drive and if I can tell it's made there.
To answer those questions, I tell them that it's simply 100 percent Honda, from fit-and-finish to driving dynamics. There are no telltale signs that it wasn't manufactured in Japan. There's no shoddy workmanship or sub-par materials. You see, Honda's been making Fits in China—and exporting them to other markets—for some time now.
While our American cousins still get their Japanese Fits, why is it that we get ours from China? According to a December 20, 2011 story in the New York Times
, Honda Canada's Executive Vice President, Jerry Chenkin says, "From what I understand, in terms of the cost of production for the Fit, the difference between China and Japan is not significant, but the exposure of the yen exchange rate is of concern to Honda and other manufacturers."
Well, doesn't that also affect the US dollar?
Indeed it does.
Sourcing Canadian-market Fits from China instead of Japan is about one thing and one thing only: the globalization of the automotive business. Look, we've got Camaros made in Ontario, Nissans from Tennessee and Fiats—yes, Fiats—made in Mexico, so a Fit from China shouldn't be a surprise. In this case, if globalization allows Honda Canada to be more profitable and employ more Canadians, then it's all upside, isn't it?
As for my first experience with a Chinese-made car, if I didn't know any better, I would have assumed this Fit was made in Japan just like the others I've tested. I don't have any concerns recommending a Fit to subcompact buyers. It's a good little car that drives well and appears to be just as well built as every other Honda.
These photos of the Fit? They were taken with my Chinese-made iPhone.