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Honda chases Toyota in hybrid race

business Updated: Nov 01, 2007 00:57 IST
Suprotip Ghosh
Suprotip Ghosh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Honda may soon be bringing the hybrid version of its popular Civic to India. Close on the heels of Toyota announcing its intention of bringing its Hybrid Prius into the Indian market, a senior Honda executive said his company would launch the version in a few months.

Honda is also planning to manufacture its compact hatchback, the Jaz, which has been a great success in markets abroad, and another car at its plant in Rajasthan. The plant is under construction and expected to be complete by 2009.

"I would like to bring in the Civic hybrid to India as early as next year," said the executive who refused to be named, citing company disclosure norms at the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show, where the company showcased two concept cars, the fully hybrid CR-Z sports concept and the Puyo, a jellybean car with a soft body that absorbs shocks.

Honda wants to pursue these new concepts as it continues its new clean and environment-friendly advertising campaign.

Honda, along with other manufacturers of hybrid vehicles, is already in discussions with the Automobile Authority of India and the road department. Old laws in India often hampered the introduction of hybrid vehicles and tax-related issues need to be sorted out as well.

Japanese automakers are at the forefront of sustainable technology for cars and other vehicles, and want to get an early mover advantage, said a Tokyo-based analyst on condition of anonymity.

The Honda Civic is the world's largest selling hybrid car after Toyota's Prius. Both the Civic and Prius are diesel electric hybrids, with two separate engines--one diesel or petrol, the other an electric motor.

The cars start off with a battery-driven electric motor, which mean zero emission, and a computer switches on the diesel motor as the car picks up speed. Heat formed during braking is fed back into the electric battery in a process called regenerative braking.

Both Toyota and Honda have put in hundreds of millions of dollars in developing the technology that their technical teams claim will reduce emission of cars significantly.

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