(Adds details, background)
By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent
TOKYO Feb 5 Honda Motor Co (7267.T) said on
Thursday it wants to price the new Insight -- its first real
attempt at selling gas-sipping hybrid cars in big volumes --
below $20,000 in the U.S. market.
Japan's No.2 automaker on Thursday priced the new dedicated
gasoline-electric car to start at 1.89 million yen ($21,140) in
Japan, where the car goes on sale on Feb. 6 ahead of other
markets. It had said in the past the selling price elsewhere
would depend on exchange rates. [ID:nN11273855]
"We want to sell it for below $20,000," Executive Vice
President Koichi Kondo told a news conference to launch the car.
The Insight, a production version of which debuted at the
North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month,
will have listed highway/city mileage of 40/43 miles per gallon
in the United States.
Honda has said the five-door, five-seater Insight, which it
is marketing as the first model under a new "Honda Green Machine"
campaign, was its first true attempt to mass-market hybrid cars.
"Along with the Accord and Civic, we are positioning the
Insight as a global car," CEO Takeo Fukui said in Tokyo,
repeating Honda's aim to hybridise about one-tenth of its car
sales by 2015. [ID:nT148659]
Honda is targeting sales of 200,000 Insights a year globally,
with 60,000 in Japan and about 100,000 in North America.
In the past decade, Honda has sold about 300,000 hybrid cars
cumulatively against 1.7 million for Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T),
which was just two years ahead with its first hybrid.
Toyota is scheduled to launch the third-generation Prius
later this year, and executives have said it would be priced
slightly higher than the current version, which starts around
$22,000 in the United States and 2.3 million yen in Japan.
Honda priced the Insight, to be built at the Suzuka factory
in Japan, below 2 million yen in Japan, as promised, or about
$5,000 cheaper than the Civic hybrid. It plans to announce final
pricing in Europe and the United States shortly before the car
goes on sale in those markets, in late March and early April,
"The key selling point for the Insight was its
affordability," Fukui said, adding that he expected little
competition from the Prius.
Fukui also said production of the Insight outside Japan was
something the company would likely consider down the line if
sales consistently held around 100,000 units a year in a single
(Editing by Chris Gallagher)