DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) — Hybrid vehicles will account for 10 percent of Honda Motor's global sales by 2010 as the company focuses on increasing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon monoxide emissions, the Japanese automaker's chief said Sunday.
"The challenge to create the most fuel efficient products for our customers and the environment will continue as a central focus of our product development efforts," Honda president Takeo Fukui said at a press conference at the Detroit auto show.
"At Honda, we believe this challenge cannot be met with a single technology."
Honda is developing a number of alternative power trains such as gas-electric hybrids, clean diesels and hydrogen-powered fuel cells, he said.
"We think the ultimate solution is a fuel cell vehicle that sets a new world standard for cleaner emissions and high fuel efficiency through alternative fuel technology," Fukui said as he unveiled the FCX Clarity fuel-cell powered sedan, which will be leased to a limited number of customers in California later this year.
"This vehicle promises to lead the way for the next 100 years of personal mobility," he said. But, for today, we continue to invest in other technologies as well."
Fukui said hybrid power is best-suited for smaller vehicles where the fuel efficiency gains are the greatest, which is why the company will be introducing two all-new hybrid small cars within the next few years.
Honda is ready to launch one of them next year with its newly developed lightweight and compact IMA (integrated motor assist) hybrid system. Fukui said Honda expects to sell 200,000 units globally, half of which will be sold in North America.
That model will be followed by a new hybrid sports model based on the CR-Z, he added.
"Based on this direction, we envision that hybrid models will account for approximately 10 percent of Honda's global automobile sales by around the year 2010," he added.
Honda's new i-DTEC clean diesel engine series will go on sale in Europe this year and will be introduced to the US market through the Acura brand in 2009.
It will be followed "in the future" by the introduction of a clean diesel under the Honda brand, he added.
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