Honda CEO Takeo Fukui has said Honda will now take the hybrid war seriously, with a claim that, "The real competition has just begun." Honda is planning to come out with a hybrid-only model in early 2009 that will provide genuine competition for the Toyota Prius.

It seems everyone has been forced to play off the Prius' cues, such as when Fukui says that, "Until now, it has been an image-based competition, not a business-based competition." Which explains the Civic Hybrid being a misstep, because according to CNW research, 50-percent of folks who buy hybrids need the world to know it's a hybrid because they don't want people to think they are burning the remains of giant lizards.

How does Honda plan to get the consumer's attention a year from now? Primarily, sticker shock -- but the good kind. Fukui said he wants the car to come in below the price of the current Civic Hybrid, which is $23,235. The current Prius starts at $20,950, so Honda needs to count a fair number of beans if they want price alone to be the allure. Fukui did say, nevertheless, that he expected the car to have a lighter hybrid engine, which would give better gas mileage. But will either the Prius or new Honda hybrid get better mileage than the MINI Cooper D?

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]