The Toyota Prius will soon be up against a fierce challenger as Honda is now placing the finishing touches to the next-generation 2012 Civic Hybrid. Honda is overhauling the entire Civic lineup but the hybrid model is being prioritized over the conventionally powered Civic.
That is why the 2012 Civic Hybrid is confirmed to go on sale in Japan next year but there’s still no date set for the start of sales of the "normal" Civic.
Sources say that Honda is aiming for an evolution rather than a revolution with the next Civic. The current model has been restyled to have a rounder overall profile but there were no major changes to the design, size or market positioning.
The US market will receive Honda’s sedan and Si coupe body styles, which will be unveiled this January at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. According to a source in Tokyo, Honda’s biggest challenge currently is to come up with a new eco champ that can steal sales away from the Prius. This means that the redesigned Civic Hybrid will be the lead vehicle in the new strategy.
Once again, Honda will be using its unique, home-grown IMA hybrid system, similar to what’s used in the CR-Z.
By next year, the Civic Hybrid will move up from the current 1.3 liters to 1.5 liters. It will be the first Honda hybrid to make use of lithium-ion batteries, which considerably extends the car's EV driving range.
A downside to the current Civic Hybrid with the NI-MH battery pack is that it can barely run a considerable distance in silent, electric-only mode, like the Prius. [via insideline]