Seeking relevancy in the segment, the Japanese company plans a gasoline-electric lineup overhaul starting with the Accord Hybrid, which according to Honda, tops Toyota and Ford’s competing sedans.
The 2014 version of Honda’s flagship sedan goes on sale Oct. 31, with a base price comparable with a V6 engine version of the Accord, while being rated as getting 50 miles (80 kilometers/ 4.7L/100km) per gallon in city driving.
Still, Honda is in great need of better hybrids, as current models, including the Insight hatchback, CR-Z coupe and a version of the Civic, generate a fraction of Prius deliveries. And Honda’s Insight beat the Toyota hybrid to the U.S. by about six months. Yet the company that led U.S. fuel economy ranking for years stumbled in designing a compelling challenger to the acclaimed Prius.
“Accord is a great place for us to stop the science experiments and really make a name for our hybrids,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of the U.S. unit. “We’re known for fuel economy, but in hybrids, it’s about relevance and volume. We think Accord can do that.”
The Accord Hybrid’s label rating, a combined 47 mpg in city and highway driving based on U.S. government tests, ranks it behind only Prius, a mid-size car that averages 51 mpg in the city, 48 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg combined, the best of any non-rechargeable vehicle in the U.S.
The Accord Hybrid’s new two-motor powertrain has components adapted from Honda’s futuristic FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell sedan and battery-electric Fit EV, Hiroo Shimada, the chief engineer who oversaw development of the Accord system, said in an interview.
Toyota expects to sell 250,000 Prius models this year. By comparison, Honda’s current hybrid line is on a pace to sell about 19,000 vehicles this year. And combined sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-only autos are headed for a record this year. Through September U.S. car buyers bought about 450,000 such vehicles, up 28% from about 352,000 a year earlier.
) - Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 - filed under Honda
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