Honda CR-Z concept - click above for high-res image gallery

Honda's new CEO, Takanobu Ito, has finally announced the on-sale date for the company's next hybrid model, the CR-Z. The CR-Z coupe will go on sale in Japan in February 2010 with a launch in North America and Europe sometime later that year. The CR-Z was first shown at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show and since then Honda has said it will eventually join the production hybrid lineup along with the existing Civic, the new Insight and an upcoming Japan-only Fit hybrid.

At the launch of the 2009 Fit last year, we asked Honda if the hybrid would come to the U.S. market. At that time, we were told that model would only be for Japan. We checked this morning with Honda spokesman Chuck Schifsky who confirmed "At this moment, we are not ready to announce any plans for the sale of Fit Hybrid in regions outside of Japan." So, for now, the Fit hybrid remains Japan only but it will also launch before the end of 2010.

The CR-Z is seen as a modern interpretation of the popular CR-X of the 1980s which in HF trim was the most fuel efficient car available in America for several years. Of course, the lean burn engine in that model wouldn't come close to passing the NOx standards of the Tier 2 Bin 5 rules. It's not known whether Honda will use the same 1.3-liter engine/IMA combination from the Insight or something a bit more powerful. We can probably expect to learn more at this fall's Tokyo Motor Show.

[Source: Honda]



Honda's New CEO Confirms Production CR-Z hybrid

Honda's new CEO, Takanobu Ito has today announced plans to begin sales in Japan of the CR-Z sports hybrid model in February 2010. The start date for EU sales of the new hybrid coupe will be released towards the end of 2009.

By combining this new model with the currently available Insight and Civic Hybrid, Honda will further enhance its lineup of compact hybrid models, which highlight the unique characteristics of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), including compact size, lightweight and high efficiency. The IMA system will also be integrated into the award winning Honda Jazz within the next few years. In addition, Honda is currently developing a new hybrid system which is intended to be suitable for installation in mid-to-large vehicles.

Honda also announced that another production line at its Suzuka Factory, is now producing Insight in mid-June 2009, leveraging Honda's flexible production system. This extra capacity on line No. 3 has been opened up to cope with the high level of demand from Japan where demand for the new Insight has exceeded all expectations.

Ito has succeeded Takeo Fukui as CEO of Honda, having been until recently the President of Honda's R&D operation. Like his predecessor Fukui, Ito has a background as an engineer and was instrumental in bringing the revolutionary NSX from concept to reality. Ito was in charge of one of the most challenging development areas as the Project Leader for the mid-engined car's ground breaking aluminium unibody construction.

In order to continue contributing to the global effort to reduce CO2 emissions, Honda will continue to focus on research and development of technologies which improve fuel-efficiency and strive to deliver products with improved environmental performance to as many customers as possible by making such products more accessible to all people.

The CR-Z concept vehicle made its world debut at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show in 2007. The CR-Z sporty hybrid will feature advanced technologies that deliver enjoyable driving for all while reducing the vehicle's environmental footprint.

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