Honda to Sell New Hybrid in 2009

In early 2009, Honda will launch a new gas-electric hybrid car in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Honda says the new car will be one of four new hybrids planned to be released by 2015. Honda is trying to compete with rival Toyota, and their lead in the earth-friendly market.

Although Honda was the first to launch a hybrid in the U.S. in 1999, Toyota’s Prius quickly took over the green sales game when it went on sale in 2000. Recently, Toyota’s Prius has surpassed the one million mark in total units sold.

Honda has a good reason to want to compete with Toyota on the hybrid vehicle level. Honda has sold about 262,000 hybrids to date. Compare that number with Toyota’s hybrid sales, at a staggering 1.46 million world-wide.

Honda says it will boost sales by introducing a more affordable, full line-up of hybrid vehicles. Models will include a sport hybrid based on the CR-Z, a redesigned Civic Hybrid and a hybrid version of the Fit subcompact.

The new gas-electric hybrid has not been named yet and will only be sold as a hybrid. Honda’s goal is to sell about 200,000 of the new vehicles annually, half of those in the U.S. market. The car is based on the design of the FCX Clarity, the new hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle, which will be available in July for leasing in California to a limited number of customers, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Honda is keeping the price of the new five-passenger hybrid car a secret, but says it will be affordable.