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, “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.