Tokyo: Honda Motor Co plans to launch its CR-Z hybrid sports car in February next year, as it aims to bring more hybrid models to market quickly to tap growing demand.
Honda, Japan’s No.2 automaker, also plans to launch its Fit Hybrid compact model in Japan by the end of 2010, Takanobu Ito, who took over as CEO last month, said in an interview with select media.
Sales of Honda’s Insight flagship hybrid car have far outpaced Honda’s monthly target of 5,000 units in Japan since its launch in February.
Honda is counting on the new Insight to support demand even as it expects its global car sales to fall 8.7% this year.
Analysts are watching to see how the Insight fares overseas, especially against Toyota Motor Corp’s Prius, which is more spacious, fuel-efficient and costs just $2,000 more than the Insight.
Honda, which is developing a new hybrid system for use on mid- to large-size vehicles, said production of the Insight began on the No.3 line at its Suzuka factory in mid-June, on top of production at Suzuka’s No.1 line.
Honda is the only top-three Japanese automaker to have escaped a loss last year, and has forecast a 95% drop in operating profit to ¥10 billion ($108 million) for the financial year to March 2010.