|DETROIT - Honda Motor Co. (7267.T: Quote, Profile, Research) , Japan\'s second-biggest auto maker, said yesterday it would launch a gasoline-electric hybrid version of its flagship Accord sedan in the key U.S. market this autumn.|
The car, which will compete with Toyota Motor Corp.\'s (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research) hot-selling new Prius hybrid sedan, will be more powerful than the 240-horsepower Accord V6 car but with the fuel economy of a four-cylinder, compact-class Civic, it said.
Honda became the first auto maker to bring gas-electric hybrid cars to the United States in December 1999 with the Insight two-seater, but sales have been sluggish because of perceptions of impracticality.
Other auto makers are scrambling to follow Toyota and Honda\'s lead in offering hybrid vehicles, with Ford Motor Co. (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research) due to launch the Escape hybrid sport utility and DaimlerChrysler AG (DCXGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) coming out with the Dodge Ram hybrid this year.
Speaking at the North American auto show in Detroit, Honda President Takeo Fukui said the auto maker would also launch an improved version of the hydrogen-fuelled FCX that uses an internally developed fuel cell stack in the United States and Japan next year.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE