Honda Announces New Hybrid Schedule

Honda C.E.O. Takeo Fukui announced the upcoming release of several Honda hybrid models.

Honda plans a gas-electric version of its popular subcompact model, Fit, with rollout projected for early next decade. And Honda's dedicated hybrid vehicle, offered as a 5-door hatchback that evokes the FCX Clarity, will hit U.S. streets in early 2009.

Additionally, Fukai said 2010 will bring a sporty hybrid based in the CR-Z model, plus a new version of the Civic hybrid.

"Hybrids have drawn attention for their image, but the time has come to go to the next step," Fukui told reporters in Japan, according to Business Week Online.

And that next step appears to be inspired by affordability.

The FCX clarity-inspired hybrid is being developed to fit within an affordable price range.

"This hybrid vehicle will be chosen rationally by customers based on its economic benefit," Fukai told Honda shareholders, according to Business Week.

Of the estimated 200,000 units to be produced annually, about half are slated for sale in the U.S. In total, Honda expects to sell 500,000 hybrids a year starting early next decade.

Fukai expects new hybrid models to sell no higher than 2,000 more than the price of standard models, basing figures on the significant reduction in the cost of hybrids' Integrated Motor Assist components.

"Honda has been at the forefront of hybrid development since it first introduced the American public to hybrid technology with the Insight in 1999," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, according to PR Newswire. "These new advancements in Honda's technology and production systems will result in cost reductions that will allow us to make hybrid technology available to a whole new generation of buyers.

(415) 336-5810