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New gas-electric Accord expected to boost demandThe Associated Press

DETROIT - Honda Motor Co. expects the introduction of its new gas-electric version of the Accord to boost its U.S. sales of hybrid vehicles to more than 45,000 next year.

Honda officials said Thursday they expect to sell 20,000 hybrid versions of the Accord sedan, in addition to the Honda Insight and Civic hybrid compacts.

About 52,000 hybrid vehicles have been sold in the United States this year, but dealers have long waiting lists.

The Accord hybrid, fitted with a V-6 engine and an electric motor, will be launched in December and is designed to appeal to mainstream car buyers.

"Our target buyer is an affluent, well-educated professional of around 50, with a household income of $100,000-plus," Bonawitz said.

The Accord hybrid will be priced around $30,000. An equivalent conventional Accord with a V-6 engine costs $26,600.

The hybrid model delivers more horsepower and more torque than a conventional Accord with a V-6. Honda says the hybrid Accord gets 30 miles per gallon in the city, and 37 on the highway, compared with 21 and 31 miles per gallon for the Accord V-6.

Source:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6205689/
 

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That's one way to adjust to high gas prices.

As Bob S. has noted in the past with some of his graphs and data :D gasoline prices probably aren't anywhere close to high enough to be a reason in themselves to make people get different kinds of cars than what they want. But indirectly they could become a reason. It's not hard to imagine that the high gas prices might lead to more and more talk about how "We have to do something" and "Everyone should do their part." And some more people might get hybrids out of social consciousness. But the talk could also lead to this being viewed as the "cool" thing to do -- and then it would really take off.
 

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Hybrids & AWD

I know this article is a bit old but it goes w/ the topic. Could a hybrid or AWD TSX be on the horizon? Still too soon to tell how well the hybrids will do (is it just a fad? how much will the technology keep improving? etc etc) but AWD will definetly help to increase sales.

Acura to Expand Offerings
By Christie Schweinsberg

WardsAuto.com, Oct 11 2004

The Acura TL is the most likely choice for an all-wheel-drive system beyond the current availability in the RL model.

WASHINGTON – American Honda Motor Co. Inc.’s Acura luxury unit eventually will expand its new Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system to more models than just the new ’05 RL.

An Acura official says the next model to receive SH-AWD, which distributes power to both front and rear as well as left and right wheels, likely will be the TL, which is positioned just below the flagship RL sedan in price and size.

John Watts, manager-Acura product planning, tells Ward’s here at the Acura RL media preview that adding AWD vehicles to its lineup is not an attempt to boost its image as a luxury auto maker more in line with BMW AG and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus division, but is a response to customer demand.

“We’re not necessarily (adding AWD) for (the luxury factor). It’s more to satisfy what our customers are looking for,” says Watts. However, he acknowledges that TL’s competitors: the BMW 3-Series, Infiniti G35 and Lexus GS, have AWD, and the Lexus IS entry-level models soon will have it.

Executives acknowledge Acura’s image in the U.S. has suffered in the past because the brand wasn’t perceived as being in the same league as the German luxury makes.

However, Watts believes the recent introductions of the TL and TSX models have “made really nice gains in Acura’s brand image” and he expects the new-for-’05 RL to do the same. (See related story: Acura Expects 20,000 Annual Sales for RL)

And executives say it is possible for Acura to boost its status without a V-8 powered model.

Although Acura executives admit many luxury brands have V-8 offerings to lure customers to their showrooms, sales figures show consumers buy V-6s.

“There are other, more important, things to do than build a V-8,” says Watts. “From a competitive standpoint, while V-8 engines drive image, V-6 engines comprise the bulk of this segment.

“Our V-6 bests every other 6-cyl. competitor in the class, and trails only the 5-Series and E-Class (which have) V-8 power,” he says of the new RL’s 300 hp, 3.5L V-6 engine.

Watts points out the best-selling import luxury model with a V-8 engine, the Lexus LS 430, sells only 20,000-22,000 units annually, but Lexus is able to use the engine in other models, specifically SUVs.

“Right now we don’t have any other vehicle that can accommodate a V-8,” he says of Acura and Honda’s current lineup.

Also on Acura’s list of “nots” is a diesel-powered model for the U.S. market, despite Mercedes-Benz’s recent announcement that it plans to bring a diesel-powered M-Class, Sports Tourer and CST here in the next two years. (See related story: Diesel M-Class, Sports Tourer En Route to the U.S.)

“We’ve looked at (diesels for the U.S. market). Frankly there’s a pretty limited appeal for that,” Watts says, adding that although Honda’s diesel engine for Europe, in the Accord and CR-V models, is “very, very clean,” and those models are selling well, Americans still have a less-than-positive reaction to the engines.

“I think diesels in the U.S. market are a very difficult sell. Generally, Americans still think of diesels as being dirty and that’s not something we’re anxious to associate with…So we don’t see a strong demand for (diesels) in the States.”

Watts says gas-electric hybrid models are a more likely choice for the U.S. market, but Acura is playing a wait-and-see game as far as hybrid powertrains are concerned.

“There’s been a lot of interest in (hybrids), particularly with SUVs. I think Lexus is a good example or an indicator of how interested people are in hybrids on luxury vehicles…We’ll be able to react pretty quickly” if Lexus’ upcoming RX 400h is a hit with buyers, he says.

A spokesman points out the upcoming Accord Hybrid’s Integrated Motor Assist system is scalable for other models. It fits within the space of a typical Honda drivetrain so an existing Honda or Acura model does not have to be reengineered to accommodate it.
 

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http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2005-07-05-honda_x.htm

Honda: New Civic hybrid will outrun Prius
From wire reports
TOKYO — Honda has developed an improved gas-and-electric engine for the Civic compact set to go on sale this fall, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday.
The current Civic hybrid gets about 51 mpg on the highway.
Honda

With global sales of nearly 600,000 units a year, the Civic is Honda's best-selling model after the Accord, and the remodeled version is widely expected to generate big sales gains for Japan's third-biggest automaker.

Honda Motor said a specific mileage estimate for the new hybrid system would not be provided until later this year, but said it's about 5% better than current Civic hybrid cars, which delivers about 51 miles per gallon under U.S. highway conditions.

Honda said the improved i-VTEC (intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control System) technology — which helps engines burn fuel more efficiently while enhancing driving performance — would raise the engine's fuel economy 6% in the new gasoline-only Civic.

Honda also developed a more powerful, fuel-efficient hybrid system that would enable its gasoline-electric vehicles to run solely on the electric motor at low cruising speeds for the first time, like Toyota Motor's popular Prius sedan.

The new system is smaller, lighter and costs up to 30% less than the existing version, a Honda engineer said.

Company officials, briefing reporters at Honda's Tokyo headquarters, also said the new Civic will offer better fuel efficiency than the Prius.

Hybrids offer better mileage and reduce pollution and global warming by switching between a gas engine and electric motor.

Honda has long been at the forefront of "green" powertrain technology, perhaps most famously with the development in 1973 of the CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine — the world's first to meet U.S. Clean Air Act requirements without a catalytic converter, and which gave the popular Civic its name.

Honda's cars and trucks in the United States, its biggest market, can on average run 29.0 miles on a gallon of gasoline — above the industry's 24.6 mpg — and its vehicles emits half the industry's average level of smog-forming pollutants.

Honda's ranking as one of the world's most fuel-efficient car brands is mainly due to its widespread use of environmentally friendly gasoline-engine technology, and that trend will continue despite the development of an improved hybrid system, an executive said.

"The most meaningful way to raise the fleet's overall performance and efficiency is to make new technologies like this available on a wide range of vehicles," Motoatsu Shiraishi, senior managing director and head of Honda's R&D unit, told reporters.

"We intend to use this technology on all vehicles that share the Civic powertrain eventually," he said.

David Friedman, research director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program, said Honda could raise its fleet's mileage to 40 mpg within 10 years purely through the widespread use of existing technology — even excluding gasoline-electric hybrids.

"When it comes to global warming, the industry overall is a bit of a dinosaur," he said in a telephone interview. "Clearly, Honda is a better dinosaur but they're still doing poorly compared to their potential."

Besides the Prius, Toyota has introduced other hybrids and is planning more. Honda already has developed hybrid versions of its Civic and Accord sedans and makes a hybrid called Insight.

Ford Motor has said hybrid versions of its upcoming Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans will be on the road within three years, and it has already introduced the Escape SUV hybrid. General Motors is planning to introduce a hybrid Chevrolet Malibu in 2008.

Although hybrids represent a tiny portion of auto sales — less than 1% of U.S. auto sales last year — their popularity is growing especially as gas prices have soared in recent years.

Contributing: Associated Press, Reuters
 

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Well, if the hybrid Accord is any indicator... why wouldn't anyone want a hybrid version of any car? Higher performance AND better fuel economy? Those used to be considered mutually exclusive terms.

The only thing holding back the popularity of the hybrid Accord is the price increase over the regular Accord and the unknown of the reliability of this technology. Once hybrid technology becomes widespread, I'd expect the price increase for a hybrid to be less.

As far as hybrids being a "fad"... I think a really good indicator will be how reliable the cars are in the long run and how expensive they will be to maintain (e.g. cost to replace battery). I think after a few more years, we'll start seeing if there are any long-term reliability problems with the current generation of hybrids.

I think a couple key determinants of whether Acura will start adopting hybrid technology into their models will be how well the hybrid Accord does and how well Lexus does with their hybrid... the RX400h.
 

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I love my prius.....its getting a steady 55MPG.......yea for toyota!
 

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Hybrids

I was seriously considering getting 1 when I went shopping but decided against --- for starters, I was not impressed by the fact that it would take me roughly 3 years to make my money back.

The biggest deterent, however, was the fact that they made hybrids top of the line -- especially the RX400h. They are so expensive bc u gotta get every option. If they let me pick the car the way I wanted it & then added on the 2k afterwards, I would have been more inclined ...

If Honda really does lower the price (2k) of the hybrid system, I may rethink this especially if they put it in the Pilot or Ridgeline since I need something w/ more room than my TSX.
 
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