Honda's Fight for Hybrid Market Begins April 2009

The new Honda subcompact hybrid will hit dealer showrooms in April 2009. That’s the official word from Honda about the hybrid-specific yet-to-be named hybrid designed to take the Prius head-on in the battle for the hybrid market. Many details about the vehicle are not yet known, but Honda has revealed that the car will be smaller and more efficient than the Honda Civic Hybrid, and will be aimed at affordability—meaning a sales price below $20,000.

“We’re targeting sales of 100,000 units of this new vehicle in North America,” said Richard Colliver, an American Honda Motor Company executive, in a speech at the 2008 Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan. By comparison, Toyota sold 181,000 Priuses in 2007, and is on track to exceed 200,000 sales this year.

Honda appears to be just warming up with its hybrid plans. “After our next hybrid comes out in 2009, we will then introduce another hybrid based on the CRZ Concept, and then later a Fit Hybrid,” said
Chris Naughton, a Honda spokesperson. Naughton told HybridCars.com, “We have not said whether the Fit hybrid or the CRZ will come to the United States.”

The next wave of Honda hybrids—which have been somewhat speculative to this point—are quickly becoming reality. The re-emergence of Honda into the hybrid market with multiple vehicles is likely to intensify competition between all global automakers for gas-electric, all-electric, and other more efficient alternative vehicles.


  • Bryce

    I have been saying this for months. Toyota is lagging behind and Honda and GM are hot on their heels and as far as I can tell, will soon surpass them in the hybrid market. Long live GM and godspeed to Honda!

  • Old Man Crowder

    Anyone know if they’re going to stick with the “Honda hybrid” system or will the make the switch to the “Toyota hybrid” system?

  • KYLE MAN

    Will be a good and basic car without many bells ect. Too bad the “NGV” they make is in short supply at $2. a gallon & being the clean machine that it is (even with a reduced range) it’s a great ride! Let’s go ahead and buy the new stuff when it comes out rather then wait like everyone did on the “Insight.” In the meantime pick up an electric skateboard like I write about at
    http://www.electricskateboardreviews.blogspot.com
    Enjoy!

  • dongaud

    i am ready to place my order. toyota dealers will be done screwing customers by charging way over list price for priuses.

  • steved28

    Bryce, GM hot on Toyotas heals??? Bwahahahaha…

    Only if you want to run out and buy a $71,000 SUV that may break 20mpg. Then get your battery recalled a year later.

    GM currently has millions of followers just like you. (They don’t own a car.)

  • Rene Rosales

    I sincerely hope that, in the anticipated proliferation of hybrid vehicles in the next 10 years, we see a shift towards “full” hybrid powertrains in which the lower (and hopefully mid) ranges of speeds / short trips can be made on battery/electric motor alone. Honda to date has yet to present a vehicle like this á la Ford Escape Hybrid.

  • Collin Burnell

    OK Bryce,

    You’ve lost it my friend!

    Toyota is 2 to 3 generations AHEAD of GM and Honda. As GM and Honda are rolling out their 2nd or 3rd generation Hybrids, Toyota will have a newly designed Prius that (one could argue) will be their 4th or 5th generation Hybrid (Original Prius, Current Prius, Camry, Highlander/RS300, other Lexus models).

    :-p Sorry.

  • Shines

    The new Honda hybrid will be smaller than the Civic hybrid? It better be way more efficient than the Prius. Size does matter.
    If the new 2009 Prius is 20% more efficient than this year’s Prius and they improve the looks a bit, Honda will have tough competition.
    As far as Toyota lagging and GM and Honda hot on their heels – the Prius alone is outselling all other hybrids combined. Toyota has 75% of the hybrid market at the moment.
    Honda and GM (and everybody else) have a lot of catching up to do as far as hybrids go…

  • Collin Burnell

    I also think Honda missed an oportunity by not making a (new) Accord Hybrid. The solution is simple, mate a FOUR cylinder, NOT a six and get good fuel economy. They would also sell a lot more Civic Hybrids (a VERY nice car) if they offered them in colors that people actually want!!!

  • Collin Burnell

    Hey Young Man Crowder,

    I assume you mean a parallel hybrid as opposed to a series hybrid?

    I like the concept of a series hybrid (basically an electric vehicle with some type of electric generator) because if you made it modular enough, you could (theoretically) swap out one type of generator for another in the future.

    Fortunately/Unfortunately the Parallel Hybrid (where both the motor AND the engine propel the vehicle) is considerable more efficient. I think you will see all manufacturers using this design.

  • sean

    Wake up Bryce!

  • sean

    Wake up Bryce!

  • PW

    Does anyone notice how much the new Honda looks like the Prius?
    I guess Honda had to go and steal the look of the prius instead of developing their own.

  • me

    The Honda looks so much like the Prius because it is extremely aerodymanic which of course increases effiency.

    I also would like to say, wake up bryce!!!! Any fanboy without a clue is sad, no matter the manufacturer of choice.

  • Bryce

    So everyone is going to pick on me supporting GM but not attack me for supporting Honda…..even though that Accord hybrid thing was a joke and they “killed” the first hybrid ever just as the market started to pep up. Even with a hybrid drive train mated to the BEST SELLING CAR IN AMERICA, the Prius has yet to be unseated. Balance it out a bit please.

    Owel…….only time will tell.

    You….I just thought of something……GM sold more hybrids in this past month then they ever rented out EV1s in the course of the years of that program. Funny.

  • Hal Howell

    Looks like my Prius, which is a great design. We’ll have to see how efficient it will be now that the EPA is finally doing “real” world testing.
    I wish them all good luck. The more the better for the consumer. Rich people will be able to get a Volt and those of us with more modest incomes can get the Prius or Honda hybrids.
    I know that everyone wants to go all electric but let’s get real, gasoline is going to be around for the foreseeable future. You don’t flip something as entrenched as gasoline that quickly. Even the Volt uses gasoline if you want to go further than 40 miles.

  • JS

    In defense of Bryce’s comment.

    GM is working on a more diverse set of hybrid drivetrains than any other automobile manufacturer. They currently sell or will soon sell cars with light, 2-mode, full parallel and serial – EREV (Volt) hybrid drivetrains. I don’t believe any other manufacturer can claim this type of expertise. With the cost of lithium ion batteries invariably dropping in the future (due to significantly increased supply), it would seem to me that the industry leader in serial hybrids, (GM’s EREV serial hybrid drivetrain) may have a significant advantage even if their initial serial hybrid is a rich man’s car. New technology almost always debuts in an expensive package. Toyota undoubtedly is the reigning sales leader in hybrid automobiles, but that coud change rapidly if a transforming technology takes hold. That is why Toyota’s weaker technology diversification in hybrid drivetrains my eventually be it’s downfall. I wouldn’t bet on any of the current big automobile manufacturers.

  • Indigo

    I hope that you are right. I like Honda vehicles quite a bit. I also have no intention to pay a ridiculous $3k-$5k dealer markup for a Toyota hybrid.

  • Bryce

    The beauty of a series (it is called series, not serial by the way) hybrid is it can be transferred to any type of vehicle relatively easily. JUst a bigger Battery and electric motor for a bigger vehicle and still deliver amazing fuel economy. (and maybe not use any gas at all) Tha Volt is basically a prototype for a whole range of cars. Volt buyers are basically going to be Beta testers, atleast in the first generation anyways. : ) I drive my cars for 10 years plus, so I would just spend the money on gas anyways. Might as well put it in a manufacturure that employs Americans (I am not only talking about GM, Toyota employs people over here too!) than in the hands of a Sheik that wants to kill us.

  • John K.

    What I want from Honda is a hybrid version of their Civic Coupe. Does anyone know if Honda has any plans to offer one?

    The Prius, the Honda Civic sedan hybrid and this new Honda hybrid are all frumpy looking 4-door hatchbacks. The Honda Civic Coupe, however, looks great! If you want to have a big impact increasing hybrid (and eventually, PHEV and EREV and EVs), you have to offer the public what they want and they want more than just frumpy looking little family sedans.

    The CRZ, for me, will be just too expensive and too impractical. The Insight looked hot, but performed like a riding mower. Ugh! A hybrid version of the Civic Coupe will hit the sweet spot of style & performance plus mpg and “greenness.” It would be a super hot seller w/the young, single car buyers (whether themselves or their parents).

  • Ed Horst

    I’m excited by Honda’s aggressive approach to high mileage, hybrid cars. The “it won’t cost much more than a regular car” will really help many people overcome their (ill placed) reluctance.

    But, I have to say, that I’m most worried about the INTERIOR of their new cars. The changes they made to the interior of the Civic Hybrid this last iteration has taken it out of the running for us — a family with a bunch of active kids in sports. The light tan interior is a SHOW STOPPER for our kids after baseball games and the such. Even the annoying blue interior still leaves light tan all over the place.

    And, they relocted the handbrake to the driver side and angled it in slightly such that is digs straight into my thigh when I try to drive it. (And, I really don’t like their increasingly bright blue dashboard, but I’d put up with that.)

    These changes make the 2004, 2005 models (with a dirt-hiding dark gray interior option as well as well placed hand brake) the only real HCH option for us. But, right now, they’re commanding too much of a premium here in California.

    Perhaps, the best benefit we may get from the NEW Honda hybrids might be the way that they bring the price of the OLD Honda Civic back down to something reasonable.

  • Ed Horst

    I just read “John K”‘s comment above and I guess it points out what Honda has to deal with.

    He likes the current Honda Civic and I guess I like something more “frumby”.

    Hopefully, Honda will find a way to accomondate both of us.

  • Bryce

    Thats the beauty of competition. As this market gets more developed, more and more options and models will be made available so that everyone can enjoy it. : )

  • Ed Griffith

    In terms of a four door sedan than most Americans need, Toyota will soon introduce their third generation hybrid. So far I don’t even see a first generation four door sedan from anybody else. (Please don’t tell me Saturn with its on-off motor is a hybrid!) I have a 2003 first generation Prius which I am very happy with. The production model was first tested in 1997 in Japan.
    I do really hope experience in SUV hybrids can translate to sedans, Honda succeeds in a 2009 hybrid, Nissan puts out a hybrid in 2010, and GM starts trickling out its volt – even at reduced performance- in late 2010. It will be better for all of us if they do. In the meantime, please excuse my skepticism that anybody can overcome a ten year lead by Toyota.

  • Armand

    Let’s just hope that concept image of the new Honda hybrid IS just that…a concept…that looks absolutely hideous. In this day and age to make a car like that is truly pathetic.

    They can do better than that…let’s just hope that is NOT the official design

  • srr

    I’m not sure you realize that the civic hybrid cost more then the Prius and is smaller. The new Honda that’s coming out will be smaller. I am excited about the competition but if it wasn’t for Toyota , we wouldn’t be at this point in hybrids.

  • John Tran

    I trust Honda because Honda have the engine last long, power and easy to drive. Toyota make all cheap stub, and always optional. Honda is safety first, everything in there. Honda is very good car, Toyota very good to copy from Honda and orther company. Honda very good on discover the new car, after that Toyota copy for it and come out more more than that. Please Trust Honda and do not buy cheap car from Toyota.

  • sean

    John Tran, you must be working for a Honda dealer. LOL.
    Look at the first hybrids from Honda and Toyota (Insight and 1st Prius) and you’ll know who makes a better one.
    Have a nice day, John.

  • Bryce

    hmm…..for a first it was pretty good I would say. With the development of technology I would say that they both are producing fine vehicles. : ) Don’t fight over such similar vehicles. lol

  • sean

    Agree w/ you Bryce, but what John T said is sort of rubbish. Toyota copies Honda? Look at hybrid cars they make. If the copier is doing so well, then every car company should go copying Honda! LOL. I think both Honda and Toyota are good car manufacturers but John is so bias. If John wants to go further, I have a question: Who do the German car companies see as a competitor from Japan? Acura or Lexus?

  • Bryce

    probably lexus cuz Acura is often thought of more as a performance brand for hot rodders, atleast in SoCal here.

  • Verne

    I’m a bit confused by John K’s comments. I have the ’03 Honda Hybrid and it looks just like the Honda Civic Coupe (of the same year). He certainly could have had his wish. My car has 120k+ miles. There have been no significant problems – tires went 97k, brakes are still at 40% remaining, milage is between 46-50 mpg. It is a manual transmission which unfortunately is not made anymore. I guess I would have to say that Honda makes a good car. I can’t say if it’s any better than the Prius. I never understood why Honda never really advertised the hybrid because at the time, I believe, it was a better car than the Prius. Kinda confused why they are taking on Prius now.

  • Katie’s Pet Bird

    Throw a direct-injection-clean-diesel in there with some plug-in batteries and you’ll have yourself one mighty long mileage hybrid – but some numb-head will still complain it looks like somebody else’s such and such.

    “Does anyone else notice how much the Whopper looks like the Quarter Pounder?” (yawn)

  • John K.

    My post really shouldn’t be that hard to understand: give us a good looking hybrid that has decent performance (in addition to mpg). Like it or not, by definition, people like things that are attractive. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” and that Honda Civic Coupe is beautiful! (The current Sedan is a lot better looking than the previous generation, but it is still merely “attractive.”)

    The youth are the future and if you want to attract young buyers, you’d better offer something other than what their parents do/would drive (4-door hatchbacks). There’s a huge segment of high school, college-aged, and twenty-something singles and young marrieds who would love a hybrid Civic Coupe. Since they are mechanically identical, Honda can easily fit the hybrid powerplant of the Civic Sedan into the Civic Coupe. Why don’t they?

    Like it or not, design/”looks” (and performance) matter to consumers. There was a survey, IIRC, on this site asking how much would I be willing to pay for a Volt? Hello! I don’t know what its acceleration, braking, ride, handling, and looks are like. How am I supposed to put a value on the car? While a plug-in series hybrid would be great, if it looks and performs like a dog, I ain’t buying it even if it went for $15k.

    If automakers want hybrids to break out of a small, niche market, they have to offer more than just frumpy 4-dr hatchbacks.

    Related: While Honda’s at it, they should look at putting the old Accord hybrid’s engine into an Accord station wagon or their Minivan. Again, both of those models used the same engine/mechanicals as the Accord sedan, so the conversion should be straight forward (other than the location of the battery pack and required cooling). They’ll get the drop on the competition. Naturally, they should update the IMA/batts and optimize the software.

  • Bryce

    All those propositions would be interesting. Here’s to the future! (as one of those teenagers myself) ;-)

  • sean t

    John K,

    Hot hybrid? Read this:
    http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring/news_reports/toyota-hybrid-tokashi-24-race-win.htm

    The point is how many such “hot” cars you can sell?
    Don’t forget that the 1st priority of hybrid is saving petrol and environment. Honda has tried some “performance” hybrid (Accord) and failed. They may try again in the future though.

  • Bryce

    The escape hybrid performs exactly its purpose and looks great. Same can be said for the Camry and Altima hybrids. (though I would have to say I prefer the Altima)

  • dud2001

    In defense of the Prius, the interior of the prius is that of a midsize car. The outside of the vehicle is deceiving. I am averaging 50-55 mpg with a midsize cabin. I am all for Honda creating a cheaper version hybrid car (I too think it is rediculous the way dealers are screwing people right now), but someone is going to have to create a hybrid with the same amount of room inside before I would consider buying anything other than a prius.

  • michael P

    gas prices would have to be $10/g for me to drive something this boring.

  • SoloSoldier

    Srr—

    You are genius! If it wasn’t for Toyota and the Prius, the hybrid would have just been another niche vehicle. Honda and GM have to catch and play the game. Honestly, I bet Hyundai will bet them both to the punch!! Ford and Nissan already license Toyota technology. Love my ‘yota!!

  • John K.

    “Hot hybrid?” No, I wrote about attractive hybrids as opposed to the usual “frumpy looking” 4-door hatchbacks. I recommended offering a hybrid version of the Civic Coupe, and you counter by linking to a race car that Toyota is using to help “develop a high performance sports car for road use in the next three years”? I don’t think many people see the connection between a Honda Civic Coupe Hybrid and a “high performance sports car.”

    Re. the Accord Hybrid being a failed “performance” hybrid: Of course you do not mention the serious mistakes Honda made in designing and marketing it. First, it cost $3,000 more than any other Accord. Compare that strategy to Toyota who subsidized the Prius for a decade to get it established. This was a failure of marketing.

    Second, Honda only offered it as a 4-door sedan. People who want performance and are paying extra for it, most often want coupes, not sedans. This was a failure caused by marketing and perhaps engineering (e.g., for some reason the IMA/batts would not fit in the Coupe’s design).

    Last, the worst thing you can do to a “performance” car is add weight. Weight decreases its acceleration, breaking and handling performance. The NiMH batteries in the hybrid Accord sedan did all of that. That is why that Toyota race car you linked to uses *capacitors*, not batteries.

    IMO, the Accord hybrid could have survived one of those mistakes, but not two, and certainly not all three.

    A hybrid Miata, using either Li ion, capacitors or Flybrid Systems, would be a hot seller too, probably getting nearly 50 mpg.

  • thomatt12

    Well at least the Toyota Prius has a competition now.

  • Rok

    I believe they will keep Honda concept of hybrid engines as its said it is cheaper to build thus making it more affordable and obviously economically acceptable for “lower class” vehicles.

  • laptop batteries

    As far as Toyota lagging and GM and Honda hot on their heels – the Prius alone is outselling all other hybrids combined. Toyota has 75% of the hybrid market at the moment.

  • Anders T

    Re. the Accord Hybrid being a failed “performance” hybrid: Of course you do not mention the serious mistakes Honda made in designing and marketing it. First, it cost $3,000 more than any other Accord. Compare that strategy to cheap battery Toyota who subsidized the Prius for a decade to get it established. This was a failure of marketing.

    Second, Honda only offered it as a 4-door sedan. People who want performance and are paying extra for it, most often want coupes, not sedans. This was a failure caused by marketing and perhaps engineering (e.g., for some reason the IMA/batts would not fit in the Coupe’s design).

  • Bryce

    Toyota is loosing its market share fast. Last year, GM’s market share was 0.5%, whereas now it is 8-10%, varying from month to month.

  • laptop battery

    Good news.

  • zanago

    Woah,I am looking forward to the Honda’s Hybrid car.
    —————
    http://www.power-batteries.net