Back in May it was reported that Honda had brought forward the launch date for a hybrid version of its popular Fit subcompact to late 2010. It seems the rumors were right. Today, Honda said it will start selling hybrid Fits by the end of 2010. Honda also gave a date for the launch of the eagerly awaited CR-Z sporty hybrid model, which will debut in February. Both cars will use a similar hybrid system to the one used in the Insight, launched earlier this year, and the Civic hybrid, BusinessWeek reports.
"I think everyone is going to go the way of hybrids," the 55-year-old former engineer told a media gathering at Honda's headquarters in Tokyo.
"Bringing hybrids quickly to customers will be a major focus of our activities," he said.
"I want Honda to be a speedy company."
That would include accelerating the development of a new type of hybrid system with two electric motors to be mounted on medium- to large-sized vehicles, he said, after Honda shelved its plan to use clean diesel engines to improve mileage on bigger models, Reuters reports.
"We want to focus on how quickly we can widen our hybrid" lineup, said Honda President and Chief Executive Officer Takanobu Ito at a his first press conference since his appointment June 23.
Honda will release the CR-Z in North America and Europe sometime after the car's Japan launch, and is considering taking the Fit hybrid overseas too, Ito said. He didn't provide further details such as sales targets or vehicle specifications.
Other major car makers such as Daimler AG also plan to release more hybrid vehicles because the of the promising market outlook. Global sales could grow to 11.28 million vehicles by 2020, more than 23 times the 487,000 hybrids sold in 2008, according to an estimate by JP Morgan, The Wall Street Journal reports.