Honda confirms hybrid electric car plans

Published: 21 May 2008

Honda CEO Takeo Fukui today confirmed Honda’s plans to build an expanded range of hybrid petrol-electric cars, including a new affordable model and a sports coupe based on the CR-Z concept. It’s a signal that Honda won’t let Toyota rule the hybrid market with its Prius and planned spin-offs; Fukui said he planned to build a half a million petrol-electric hybrid cars every year.

The important new model announced today is an affordable model to slot beneath the existing Civic Hybrid. Clearly, ‘affordable’ means different things to different people, but CAR Online understands the five-door, five-seater should cost around £14,000. As such it’s a cheaper rival to the Prius and will go on sale in Europe in spring 2009. Honda aims to build 200,000 every year.

Honda’s ‘Prius’: the lowdown

Fukui didn’t reveal the full tech breakdown of the new model, but said the new affordable hybrid would major on ‘fuel efficiency, manoeuvrability, comfort and styling’.

While much of the car remains shrouded in secrecy, we do know it will have a revised hybrid petrol-electric powertrain with a new control unit and lighter, more compact battery. The electric motor (made in Honda’s Suzuka plant) is also thinner.

Sounds like it’ll be a hybrid Civic!

Nope. Honda has revealed the affordable car will be a standalone product, not based on an existing model. Our sources suggest it will be smaller than today’s Civic Hybrid saloon – closer to a Golf or Astra hatchback.

Fukui also said it will use a completely new platform, housing the hybrid gubbins and battery under the boot for better packaging.

Click ‘Next’ to find out about the successor to the Honda InsightAh yes, the Honda CR-Z!

That’s right. The CR-Z concept car shown at the 2007 Tokyo motor show will – as predicted by CAR Online – be put into production. Think of the popular, stubby CR-X rewired for the 21st century.

The CR-Z follows in the tyre tracks of the Insight, the two-seat coupe that arrived in the late Nineties. The two cars will share a few styling and aero cues, especially at the wind tunnel-honed rear end. Expect the CR-Z in early 2010.

So a whole family of hybrids… will there be any more?

You bet. Two further petrol-electric models were confirmed today by Fukui. He revealed there would be a successor to the Civic Hybrid and a part-electric version of the next-gen Jazz.

We’ll see the new Jazz supermini in July 2008 before UK sales commence in spring 2009, but a hybrid version will be a bit further down the line.

Who is king of the hybrids? Honda or Toyota? Click ‘Add your comment’ and let us know

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet