Filed under: Transport
Honda, scrambling to catch up with Toyota in the race toward cleaner, greener cars, announced on Wednesday that it will introduce at least three new hybrid models for the 2009 model year, including a light, cheap version priced at about $20,000.
In a mid-year strategy speech, CEO Takeo Fukui said the company expects to sell 200,000 of the new entry-level hybrids each year, with total hybrid sales reaching 500,000 cars annually after 2010 — about 10% of the company’s production. Toyota last week shipped its millionth Prius, which has been in production since 1997.
Honda entered the hybrid category with the two-seat Insight in 1999, and currently builds a single hybrid model, a version of the Civic. The new cheap hybrid will be a five-door, five-seat sedan with a small gasoline engine assisted in acceleration by an electric motor. Batteries and control circuitry will live under the trunk.
Existing hybrids cost about $5,000 more to build and sell than their gasoline-driven equivalents, Fukui said. The new design is meant to carry a $2,000 premium.
On Monday, Nissan announced a joint venture with NEC to manufacture compact laminated lithium ion batteries for use in a new line of electric cars. The new factory is scheduled to begin operations before the end of the year, with an initial production capacity of 13,000 units, expanding to 65,000. Nissan-Renault plans to introduce electric cars in the U.S., Denmark and Israel for the 2011 model year. Volkswagen has signed a battery development deal with Sanyo, and General Motors has contracts with high-tech battery-makers A123 and LG Chem.
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