Honda's hybrid CR-Z to arrive in months

The Japanese automaker debuts the production version of its hybrid CR-Z, a model it hopes will be both fuel-efficient and sporty.

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Stephen Shankland
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DETROIT--Honda Motor touted its hybrid CR-Z Monday, debuting the production version of the two-door, two-seat coupe and saying it's due to go on sale soon.

The hybrid CR-Z is "coming in just a few months," said Honda Chief Executive Takanobu Ito at a press conference here at the North American International Auto Show.

He was an engineer working in the 1980s on a progenitor, the "pocket rocket" CR-X, and said the new model is designed with a similar goal to be fun and fuel-efficient.

The car combines a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with a 10-kilowatt electric motor to deliver 122 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, Honda said. The estimated fuel economy is 36 miles per gallon and 38 mpg for city and highway driving on models with a continuously variable transmission; the six-speed manual's fuel economy drops to 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway by EPA standards.

Electronics equipment figures prominently in the CR-Z. It comes standard with a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB sound system, remote keyless entry, and cruise control. The higher-end EX model comes with a Bluetooth link and a subwoofer-equipped 360-watt premium sound system. A satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition is an option.

Safety features on the car include six airbags and antilock brakes, he added.

Though Honda is getting more earnest with its hybrid program, its heart lies with vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which Ito called "the ultimate eco-car."

"We continue to believe the fuel cell electric vehicle is the ultimate solution to reduce carbon dioxide emissions," Ito said.

The company's fuel-cell powered FC-X was on display, and Ito announced a next-generation in-home hydrogen fueling station that, lacking a compressor, can "fit entirely with the user's garage," he said.

But in the near term, Honda supports hybrid electric vehicles and aspires to make them compact, lightweight, and affordable. Honda plans to release a hybrid Acura model, Ito said at the conference.

Disclosure: Stephen Shankland's spouse is employed by Tesla Motors.

Honda touts sporty hybrid CR-Z (photos)

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