Japanese firm's dedicated hybrid-only model remains on course
7 December 2007

Honda is still on track to preview its new small global hybrid model in autumn 2008, either at the Paris Salon d'Automobile or the Los Angeles Auto Show, before it goes on sale in 2009.This is the so-called 'Honda Prius,' a dedicated hybrid hatchback rather than a hybrid version of one of Honda's existing models, and it'll be cheaper than the Civic Hybrid. Honda plans to start off with production of 200,000 units per year of this new dedicated hybrid. But the car won't come with lithium-ion batteries, currently seen as the way forward for hybrids, according to Honda president Takeo Fukui. "When we think about safety and cost, (the introduction of lithium ion batteries) will be years ahead," Fukui said. The fact that Honda has already applied lithium ion battery technology to its new FCX Clarity fuel cell car suggests that it's simply too expensive to the brand's new global hybrid. However, Toyota is also downplaying the use of these advanced batteries for the next Prius, also due out in 2009.Although the new model won’t be a sports car, Honda unveiled a small petrol-electric coupe concept at the Geneva show in January, hinting at its plans for a stand-alone hybrid.

Peter Nunn

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