Honda (NYSE:HMC) has released details on its new Accord Hybrid, and they are interesting for a number of reasons. Apart from setting a new standard in MPG for a hybrid, the 2014 model will allow drivers to operate in electric-only mode. This Accord, which will be the first Honda hybrid assembled in the United States, is priced for Japanese markets but doesn’t have a U.S. estimate yet.
Honda posted photos of its new hybrid online along with a statement for the press earlier in the week. Assembly will take place in Marysville, Ohio, and the car features a significant change in the way it operates its electric/gas power supply. Its “two-motor SPORT HYBRID” multi-mode powertrain allows the 2014 model to switch between EV, hybrid, and “engine drive” mode. It’s precisely this versatility that allows the car to hit 49 mpg (Honda estimates, pending EPA tests) in the city. It will have a 45 hwy mpg and a combined 47 mpg overall.
The EV mode delivers better fuel economy in the city because electric power works best at low speeds while the combustion engine kicks in when the car goes at a faster clip on the highway. The mpg estimates will beat out the rest of the class for mid-size sedans. It appears primed to pick off customers interested in Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) 2013 Camry Hybrid, which gets 43 mpg in the city. The Accord Hybrid’s advantage in fuel economy will command a higher price than the Camry.
In Japan, where the 2013 Camry Hybrid base model sells for around $31,000, the Accord Hybrid will cost just over $37,000. According to AutoBlogGreen, a standard Accord starts at $25,500 in Japan, compared to $21,680 in the United States. Therefore, most analysts assume the 2014 Accord Hybrid will sell in the mid-$30K range in American markets (the completely plug-in Accord starts just below $40,000).
As for appearances, this model features hybrid badging, as well as changes to the grille and LED daytime lights, but otherwise looks a great deal like the standard Accord. Customers who value the extra mpg are expected to shell out for the higher price in Japan, though it’s unclear how far Honda will go with U.S. pricing.