Honda Back in the Hybrid Fight

Honda today announced that it will introduce its new small hybrid in early 2009, as well as another unique small hybrid vehicle based on the sporty CR-Z compact concept sports car and a hybrid version of the Honda Fit subcompact. reported in 2006 that Honda was planning a hybrid version of the Fit—based on an exclusive interview with an unnamed inside source—but official company statements denied the report. “We’re not thinking of a Jazz (Fit) hybrid right now,” said Takeo Fukui, Honda president and CEO, in December 2006. “To us, the Jazz has sufficient fuel efficiency with the current gasoline engine.” Fukui told reporters today that the spike in crude oil prices convinced Honda that “a Fit hybrid is now starting to make sense.”

The first new small gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle will have expected annual global sales of 200,000 units per year—approximately 100,000 of which are bound for the North American market. With the two new hybrids, yet to be named, and the Honda Fit and Civic Hybrids, Honda expects the four hybrid vehicles to reach combined annual global sales of approximately 500,000 units.

At one point, Honda had three hybrids on the market: the Honda Insight, Civic Hybrid, and Accord Hybrid. The Insight (lacking in convenience as a two-seater) and the Accord Hybrid (which emphasized performance over efficiency) were canceled due to poor sales.

The first new dedicated hybrid vehicle, due in 2009, will be offered as a 5-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and will employ an exterior design concept that evokes the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle. With the new hybrid, Honda is aiming to produce the most affordable hybrid on the market. Fuel economy for the new car is expected to exceed 40 miles per gallon.

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  • Steven H

    We needed them yesterday, Just stick more bateries in it instead of and engine. We want to place our vote against big oil now. All we need is something to get us around town, and out of the weather. We’ll use the Hybrid for when we take out of town trips.

  • Scott C.

    They have to do better than that in milage. I have a 06 Civic Hybrid and a 07 Civic EX and they get 50 and 41mpg. If I can work 41 out of the EX they should do better than 40+ in their new hybrid.

  • Armand

    Remember we need to see what size engines they plan on putting in these cars. Your Civic Hybrid as 2 spark plugs per cylinder…making it EXTREMELY clean in output burn..and also necessary for all that start/stop burn-off to reduce emissions during that process.

    I could do with a 1.0-1.2 L engine/hybrid version. I’m very excited about Honda’s new products….they are the only manufacturer that is truly working to reduce weight/size/increase efficiency, etc the right way.

    Everyone seems to criticize Honda for the FCX hydrogen car…but I’ll bet you that they are planning to use that technology in various other arenas. If they can develop a fuel cell system that’s working and rolling on four wheels, they can develop other systems that are static.

    Ah…imagine a fuel cell leaf-blower.

  • jackie

    I tell you what I just got one of those hybrid vehicle. I save so much money on gas I put like 30.00 in the tank for two weeks. Thats right I said two weeks. That is crazy! I love it, and it feels so futuristic. By the way I got the Toyota Prius. So awesome, comes with projection speed and gas gauge on the dash with built in monitor for gps or the “Energy Monitor” to see if your using the electric engine or the gas engine.

  • D Bateman

    I think the competition is heating up. As far as the big oil comment – least they spend billions on investments and research, invest in high risk adventures – if we get the car companies to do the same I think we will see some big changes – hybrids being one, selling direct to consumer via the internet being another.

  • GR

    Both the new hybrid and the CR-Z should sell like hotcakes. The Fit will do well also, especially with current prices and perceptions about global warming. The CR-Z will definitely sell well among the single, under 30-year old market. I’ll probably go with the five-door myself, although all sound appealing. Good job Honda.

  • Anonymous

    I assume this car will be a mild hybrid like the Civic with no EV capabilities?

  • Hal Howell

    Well, I’ve had my 2007 Prius for 1 year and I am excited to say It has been a blast. The car has performed outstandingly. A few days ago my wife and I took a trip to Lubbock from Abilene 2 days in a row. The first trip we got 59.5 mpg and the second day it dropped to 54.6. I drove 60 mph which is slower than Texas’ 70 mph but I just let everyone pass me by. The result of taking it a bit easy was great gas mileage. I have over the last year managed to fill up once every three weeks. Needless to say I am a happy camper.

  • domboy

    Is it just me, or does that CR-Z concept look like an updated Insight?? If the Insight didn’t sell well, why should this CR-Z do any better??

  • dhartman

    The new “affordable Honda hybird” similar in design to the FCX Clarity will get better than 40 mpg — might reach close to 50 mpg combined. It will be the best engineered hybird on the road with no bleeding edge technology. The total package of synergistic styling/aerodynamics, weight, ICE+electrics mix and accessories will knock our socks off. I am officially #1 on my dealer’s waiting list!

  • Need2Change

    I’m psyched! Can’t wait!

    I wonder how Honda will differentiate between the new, unnamed Hybrid, the Fit hybrid, and the Civic hybrid. They seem to be similar cars to me.

    I think a two-seater would sell. I wasn’t bothered that the Insight had two seats. I was bothered that the two seats were so cheap and uncomfortable. I also felt that the car was too small for my 6 ft. 1 in. height, and had too many cheap accessories. I also thought it looked strange.

    I will consider the CR-Z hybrid, if Honda addresses these other iissues. Honda has addressed the exterior appearance. It looks great.

  • mtr

    Over 40 mpg?

  • F

    please bring at least the fit hybrid to mexico. you did great already with the civic hybrid down south. would be greatful if you took that step again.

  • Bert

    I’ll take one of the 5 doors please. I live in the country and the nearest town of any size is 30 miles distant. 40 MPG or better would be great!

    By the way, I’m a VW guy at heart but my first car was a Honda.

  • Need2Change

    Toyota knocked down Honda in Round 1. The Prius dominates sales, and Honda discontinued the Insight and Accord hybrids.

    It’s now Round 2. I’m sure the 2009 Prius will be a tough competitor.

    I still give Honda credit. They keep trying, and I wish them well. The next punch by Honda looks like a good one.

    No one else, and that includes other Japanese, the US, and European manufacturers, even answers the bell. They are avoiding competing against the Prius. They focus on mid-size and SUV hybrids.

    If the U.S. wants to meet the CAFE standards, they will need to create a Prius competitor someday. I may have missed it, but I don’t even see high mpg Concept cars from the U.S. and European companies other than the VW diesel hybrid.

  • Curt Reinholz

    The posted EPA rating isn’t the ideal driving situation for all drivers. I too have customers that get over 40MPG for the Civic wit h an EPA rating of only 36 for highway. So for Honda (which has always understated) to claim 40MPG it could be likely to achieve 45? I also have customers that claim to get only around 33 in a Civic thoe. Oddly their tires are most worn…?
    Need a Honda in Milwaukee area?

  • Joan 1

    I had a Honda Civic 10 years ago, and loved the car. My husband, however, hated it! He is 6’2″ and 200+ pounds. He found the seats extremely uncomfortable, and we got sold it after a few years because whenever we went on a long trip he found the car very painful to drive.
    Several years ago we began our search for a hybrid, and we looked at the Civic and the Prius. He still found the Civic seats uncomfortable, and we ultimately went with the Prius despite a preference for the styling of the Civic (and by the way, we LOVE our Prius – MPG: mid- high 50’s in the summer, low 50’s in the winter). I hope that Honda will upgrade the seats in the next go-round!

  • whizkid

    Damn straight! Hybrids should always better the fuel-run cars. Only way to bring big oil to their knees. Poor people everywhere are being fleeced and we’re fed up!

  • ed

    I used to have a honda VX, all gas, and I used to average 52 mpg the best I got was 69.9 mpg, just start making them again, I would buy one today.

    It was fast and fun.

  • Tere

    I finally bought a Fit last year, and absolutely love it. I was actually waiting to buy my first car until Honda released a hybrid version of the Jazz (as was rumored in ’06), but just couldn’t wait 2-3 years. I agree with other posters who have said that 40 mi/gal seems low for a new hybrid. My ’07 Honda Fit gets 38 mi/gal highway. (That number is based on a 1200 mi trip I took. Road conditions included fair weather, snow, heavy winds, black ice, mountain passes, and plains.) Even in stop and go traffic here in the SF Bay area, I rarely have to fill up more than once every 2 weeks. (Granted, I’m a bus commuter, so I dodge that expense).

    Anyway, here’s hoping that the mileage on the Fit hybrid will be at least 45 mi/gal city. I’m really looking forward to seeing the 2 new economy hybrids from Honda. If the ’09 hybrid can match the Prius in mileage, it will be a very competitive car. The Fit has tons more cargo space than a Prius, and is just a more practical car. I know I’ll probably be standing in line to buy one.

    And for all you Prius lovers out there: Yes, it is a great car, and Yes I’ve driven the Prius many times. But, I can carry 2 bikes + camp equipment inside my Fit. Can’t even imagine trying that in a Prius.

  • A student

    Thank goodness they showed the back end of that car. The front is just *shudders*…

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I’ll second that. The VX was my first car and I since have failed to understand why is is allegedly so hard to make an efficient car. I was getting 40mpg city without even trying. And that was in 1992.

  • kazelli

    I think the CR-Z looks great and I’ll be getting on the waiting list. I had a first gen (’87) and later a second gen (’91) CRX and loved them both. Put about 150k miles between the two of them with never an expensive or unusual repair and always averaged 45-50 mpg hwy and low 30s in town – I thought they were comfortable (but then I’m 5’0″, 100 lbs) if a bit short on passenger space. I did get seven people into the first one once – we were in high school, safety wasn’t on the radar.

    I think the insight didn’t sell well because people had different priorities then – gas was less than half the price it is now and bigger was still better in most people’s minds. And it wasn’t as cute or sporty as the CRX was with those funky rear wheel covers added on.

    I’m considering a Fit because I have a 6’0″ husband and three good sized dogs, but the CR-Z has captured my little car lovin’ heart. Thank you Honda – it’s been a long twenty years without the CRX in production!

  • gail Sredanovic

    I want a flexible vehicle for hauling stuff and running errands that has a somewhat elevated seat to accomodate creaky joints. I want something with decent visiblity. This excludes the Prius and(for me) the Toyota Matrix. I find the Matrix and even the Scion have horrible blind spots.

    Give me something PRACTICAL with enough strength and power to be reasonably safe.

    I don’t care a fig what it looks like!

  • RickD

    Anyone know if the new Honda Fit (Jazz) hybrid will be a straight hybrid or a plug-in?

  • dangerous

    Oh I like this one, it really looks great and definitely a hybrid. This is one of the Car Crazed. Great body, hybrid but I hope nice interiors too. And can have it with limited budget. Great for Honda.

  • xeevo

    If they ever want the public to purchase energy efficient automobiles, they are going to have to make them look better than this. This is got to be the stupidest car I have ever seen. I expect to see a herd of clowns pile out of it every time I see it. I want a car that looks nice, like a 69 mustang or a 93 prelude, but with great millage, like 60-80 mpg. My prelude already gets 34 mpg and it’s no hybrid. Looks a hell of a lot nicer though.

  • burun estetiği

    drove 60 mph which is slower than Texas’ 70 mph but I just let everyone pass me by. The result of taking it a bit easy was great gas mileage. I have over the last year managed to fill up once every three weeks.

  • saç ekimi

    site was perfect ..

  • tapra1

    “To us, the Jazz has sufficient fuel efficiency with the current gasoline engine.” Fukui told reporters today that the spike in crude oil prices convinced Honda.Tech Info