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Honda to unveil its new hybrid sports car at Tokyo auto show

Honda's new hybrid car does not have to sacrifice its looks to be an environmentally friendly vehicle. It can be muscular and stylish too. Honda's new gas-electric hybrid sports car CR-Z is going to be unveiled atthis month's Tokyo auto show.

"This is something rivals can't offer," Tetsuji Morikawa, a Honda Motor Co. engineer, said of the CR-Z, whose sales date is promised for the "near future."

The vehicle has maintained "the essence of the sports car" while still delivering good mileage and less pollution, he said.

Hybrid vehicles tend to be bulky, compared to sleek sports cars, because of the size and complexity of the hybrid systems, which include a battery, motor, engine, converter and other parts. They're usually not known for their torque, acceleration, handling and innovative design.

The CR-Z comes with a new hybrid system developed by Honda whose breakthroughs allowed designers to get around such restrictions to achieve its lean cutting-edge look, said Morikawa, while declining to give details about the hybrid system and the sportscar.

The model will be on display at the biannual Tokyo Motor Show, which opens to the public Oct. 27 in the Tokyo suburb of Chiba.

Japan's No. 2 automaker already sells the hybrid Civic but discontinued the hybrid Accord and hybrid Insight. It has promised a new hybrid in 2009.

Interest in hybrids is high among the world's automakers amid concerns about global warming and rising oil prices.

Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. has emerged the leader in the technology, having sold more than a million hybrids globally over the last decade.

Tokyo-based Honda, which has sold about 220,000 hybrids worldwide so far, is eager to make its stamp on hybrids by showing how its reputation for sporty cars will also work for hybrids.

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