Monday, July 21, 2008

Honda's New Hybrid Spotted

From Road & Track:

Our team of spy photographers caught the next-generation Honda hybrid in the scorching deserts of the Southwest performing hot-weather testing. You can immediately tell from the car's profile that Honda's new "green" car is going straight after the Toyota Prius. Although the car is heavily camouflaged, you can see the basic overall design that mimics Toyota's popular hybrid and is heavily influenced by the shape of the company's FCX Clarity fuel-cell concept that appeared at the last Tokyo Motor Show. Back then, the FCX was introduced as a sporty hybrid, but it's obvious from these photos that usable economy is the name of the game now. Some have speculated that this new car will replace the now-discontinued Insight in Honda's lineup, while others maintain that it will become the new Civic Hybrid. Whichever label it wears, one thing for sure is that it will be one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the world, and may wrest the crown away from the Prius as the world's favorite green car.

The price of this new car will be low, as Honda maintains it will be an entry-level car with 200,000 units selling annually — half of those to be sold in the United States. Early rumors indicate that it may be as low as $19,000. With seating for five, this 4-door, front-wheel-drive hatchback will be using an updated motor-assist hybrid system and an advanced nickel/metal-hydride system, not lithium-ion batteries. We're not sure yet on the gasoline part of the equation; it could be the company's lean-burning 1.3-liter inline-4 (in the current Civic Hybrid) or something even leaner. The expectation is class-leading fuel economy, no doubt way north of 40 mpg. Look for the new Honda Hybrid to arrive at dealerships here in the States in late 2009.
I don't think this is going to be a Civic rather a stand-alone platform.

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