Honda Motor Co. is looking to cut into competitor Toyota's lead in sales of greener vehicles with the introduction of a new gasoline-electric hybrid. The as yet unnamed five-door hybrid will be launched in April 2009, and priced lower than Toyota's category-leading Prius. Honda, which already has the greenest lineup of mainstream vehicles thanks to several cars with high miles-per-gallon ratings and low emissions (including both traditional and hybrid versions of its Civic), is hoping to eclipse Toyota in the minds of American, Japanese and European consumers. The car will only be available with a hybrid drivetrain, unlike the more expensive Civic.
"We're targeting sales of 100,000 units of this new vehicle in North America," Richard Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., told reporters last week. Toyota sold upwards of 181,000 Priuses last year, but expects to sell fewer of the cars in 2008 due to production shortfalls. Colliver added that Honda hopes its new hybrid is affordable to a new generation of drivers, but is not specifically trying to match Prius sales.