Honda Planning a Major Jump in Hybrid Sales in Japan in 2011

By dancurranjr On December 20th, 2010

Honda will put pedal to the metal in Japan next year when a new and bigger range of hybrid models will land on the market.

Joining the CR-Z and Fit Hybrid on the scene will be a hybridized version of the Freed, Honda’s quirky small domestic van. Honda will also introduce a stretched wagon version of the Fit hybrid for domestic consumption, according to sources. The front half of the body will be stock, but overall length will stretch by more than 2 feet.

The Fit hybrid wagon is expected out in March, while the Freed hybrid will arrive later, around fall 2011.

The redesigned Civic Hybrid, to be unveiled in January at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show and tipped to be the first Honda hybrid to get a lithium-ion battery pack, will be another 2011 debut, but Japan, in fact, might not get it.

Having announced the end of Civic sales in Japan and with that longer Fit hybrid wagon in the wings, Honda may feel that it doesn’t need the new Civic Hybrid in Japan anymore, not even as an iconic stand-alone model.

Honda will also have the Insight to fall back on, of course, and the good news there is that that to-date lackluster model is due for a major revamp next July.

Toyota will counter with a hybrid version of the new Vitz (Yaris) and Mazda is promising a face-lifted Mazda 2 with the automaker’s new Skyactiv G gas engine that can achieve hybrid-type economy without the weight and complexity of battery and motor.

Add it up and, although the technology is light and compact, Honda’s IMA hybrids have yet to truly catch on and/or frighten Toyota, the market leader. So will 2011 at last be the turning point for Honda?

Inside Line says: The new Honda hybrids could be big in Japan where the word “hybrid” is a major come-on, but in the U.S., given the inevitable price premium for the technology, such small gasoline-electric models could be a harder sell.

SOURCE: InsideLine.com

Honda Adds Brio to Eco-Car Market

By dancurranjr On December 1st, 2010

Honda has confirmed plans to sell an eco-car in Thailand early next year but plans for a hybrid remain unclear even though Japanese rival Toyota has two petrol-electric models available.

Honda yesterday introduced its Brio eco-car prototype, which will be featured at the Thailand International Motor Expo that runs from today to Dec 12 at Impact Muang Thong Thani.

The prototype is close to the mass-production model, which will go on sale in March at a starting price of around 400,000 baht, said Honda Motor chief executive Takanobu Ito.

That price would make the Brio 25,000 baht dearer than the Nissan March, the first eco-car launched locally in March this year.

The Brio five-door hatchback has a 1.2-litre gasoline engine, and a four-door sedan might be considered later.

Honda also aims to introduce the Brio in India next year with a starting price below 500,000 rupees. Brios made in Thailand and India might be exported to other markets in the region except Japan and China.

Mr Ito said the Brio, which is smaller than the City and Jazz, reflected worldwide demand for smaller cars as well as consumers’ concerns about fuel economy and impact on the environment.

He said the car had been developed based on Honda’s concept of local production including the use of locally produced tooling in addition to locally procured parts and materials.

To accomplish this, Honda has adopted specifications optimised for the Asian market and accelerated the use of local suppliers in Asia, said Mr Ito.

Fumihiko Ike, president of Asian Honda Motor, said Honda was in no hurry to market a hybrid in Thailand as it wanted to observe consumer reaction to the Toyota Camry and Prius models.

Both have been well received so far, with the receiving more than 1,000 presale orders even before the retail price was formally announced.

Honda has hybrid models in its lineup to respond to the needs of consumers and believes the hybrid market will grow in the future, said Mr Ike.

Honda is waiting for more details on Thai government support for hybrids.

Currently, hybrid cars enjoys a 10% excise tax, significantly lower than the normal rate of 30% and upward, and hybrid parts not available in Thailand can be imported duty-free.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post