Honda’s new president Takanobu Ito promised today to speed up production of hybrid cars. Ito said that Honda will offer a CR-Z hybrid in Japan in February 2010, followed by a hybrid version of the company’s best-selling compact, Honda Fit, before the end of 2010.
According to the Associated Press, Ito said hybrids are crucial to the future of the auto industry—and projected that nearly every model from every automaker will be offered as a hybrid over the next 20 years. “There are some issues left to overcome on battery and motor technology, so it won’t happen overnight,” Ito said, sitting next to a blue Insight in a Tokyo showroom. “Our theme is hybrids.”
The CR-Z hybrid will be sold in North America and Europe, but Ito did not provide a release date. The Honda Fit Hybrid will also be offered in North America. The company is focusing on hybrid versions of smaller cars, but is also developing a hybrid system suited to mid-size and large vehicles.
Honda has sold 38,700 units of its Insight—a four-door compact car with a US EPA mileage rating of 41 mpg—worldwide since it went on sale in February.
“Applying the hybrid system to smaller vehicles will help Honda boost sales,” said Yoshihiro Okumura, a funds manager at Tokyo-based Chiba-gin Asset Management Co. “Once the US market starts to pick up, they’ll be well-positioned,” Okumura told Bloomberg.