Honda and Mercedes Introduce Hybrid-electrics in Detroit

Hybrid Accord available in 2004, while Mercedes-Benz Vision Grand Tourer with diesel-electric hybrid drive available in 2005

Published: 07-Jan-2004

DETROIT - Looking to bolster its commitment to producing environmentally friendly vehicles, Honda Motor Co. announced plans to introduce a gas-electric hybrid version of its Accord this fall.

The V-6 engine on the new Accord version will provide fuel economy similar to a four-cylinder Civic, president and chief executive Takeo Fukui said Monday. Honda already sells two other hybrids, the Insight and the Civic Hybrid.

"We have always targeted the world's most advanced technologies," said Fukui, whose remarks were preceded by an appearance from a human-like ASIMO robot the company is developing.

The company also said it will introduce a Honda-developed fuel cell unit with increased performance and fuel efficiency in 2005 that will be capable of starting in below-freezing temperatures.

Fuel cell technology creates electric power from hydrogen and is viewed by the industry and environmentalists as a possible alternative to fossil fuels. The only tailpipe emissions from fuel cell vehicles that use pure hydrogen is water vapor.

Fukui said Honda wants to gain real experience with fuel cell vehicles to help speed their development. And he said the company is committed to supporting the development of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure that would be needed for such vehicles to gain wide use.

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Mercedes-Benz unveiled a concept version of a six-seat Vision Grand Sports Tourer that the company says is about a year from production for the American market.

The automaker said Monday it created the luxury concept vehicle to accommodate family use - recreation, travel and work - without sacrificing style and technological prowess.

The model shows "the attractiveness and versatility of a new concept for a roomy, comfortable and high-performance family car," said Juergen Hubbert, head of the Mercedes Car Group and a member of DaimlerChrysler AG's board.

An arc-shaped roof gives the car a coupe-like appearance. A glass roof stretches nearly the entire distance of the passenger compartment, which features individual seats for each occupant.

A V-8 diesel/electric hybrid engine is designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions without compromising performance. In its current incarnation, the engine would deliver about 30 miles to the gallon while offering a combined 314 horsepower.

Editor's Note: Article abbreviated. See source for more information on non-EV cars at NAIAS 2004

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