Toyota, Honda gearing up to fight for hybrid crown

While European automakers focus on diesels and American companies dip their toes into the hydrogen, biofuel and electric drive waters, Japan's two largest automakers seem to be gearing up for a big fight over who can sell the most hybrids. In two stories for Automotive News (subs req'd), writer Hans Greimel lays out the ways that Toyota and Honda want to win this war. The headlines tell the short version story: Toyota eyes 1 million in annual hybrid sales and Honda: Hybrid war has just begun. In effect, Toyota want to keep the Prius momentum going, Honda wants to copy and exceed.

Greimel explains that by the early 2010s, Toyota hopes to be selling us a million hybrids, with some of those being plug-in hybrids, a year. Something about the article (specifically this line: "Toyota will soon be testing plug-in hybrids in Japan, Europe and the United States") makes me wonder about whether this story is something of a holiday rehash - we know that Toyota has been testing the PHEV Prius in those three locations for a while now.

Honda, on the other hand, isn't convinced plug-ins are the way to go, but does want to get serious about "standard" hybrids. Honda CEO Takeo Fukui told Gerimel that, "The real competition [for hybrids] has just begun. Until now, it has been an image-based competition, not a business-based competition." Honda's first entrants will be a new dedicated hybrid (Fukui admits that the Civic hybird was a bust) and the hybrid CR-Z, both coming in 2009 or later. Game on!

[Source: Automotive News]

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