Honda Says U.S.-Built Hybrid Will Humble Competition

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid

When Honda (NYSE:HMC) first started estimating the efficiency of its 2014 Accord Hybrid, the automaker took a slightly conservative approach. Honda expected 49 mpg in the city, which would make it impressive, yet only a notch or two above the Ford (NYSE:F) Fusion Hybrid. However, the numbers of Ford’s cars have come under fire, and Honda is trumpeting its new hybrid as the segment leader months before it even hits showrooms.

Honda released a statement Friday morning that leaves no doubt about the company’s opinion of its new hybrid. ”For customers looking for a 50 mpg rated 4-door sedan, there is no other choice than the 2014 Accord Hybrid,” said Mike Accavitti, senior VP of Honda USA Sales, claiming the new gas-electric hybrid was already surpassing the competition just as it began production in the company’s Marysville, Ohio plants. The new hybrid is expected to arrive in dealerships later this fall.

The number 50 is significant because only the Toyota (NYSE:TM) Prius has ever hit that EPA estimate mark for vehicles not plugged in for charging. Ford’s successful Fusion has has questions surrounding the actual performance of the hybrid model, said to be getting 47 mpg on both city and highway. According to street tests by AOL Autos, drivers were lucky to break 40 mpg. Nonetheless, Honda was looking up at both Ford and Toyota in terms of efficiency in the segment. The company’s new Accord would change that.

“Even before it hits showrooms this fall, the Accord Hybrid is already claiming segment leadership,” Honda’s Accavitti said in a statement. Getting beyond Ford is a clear goal for Honda. According to Bloomberg data, Honda sold only 12,770 hybrids through August of this year compared to Ford’s 61,306 hybrids. Though Ford has made gains in the segment, Toyota is still crushing the competition with nearly 250,000 hybrids sold. The Prius is the state of California’s best-selling car this year.

Honda has a clear appeal with the 2014 Accord Hybrid. It will top the Ford, equal the best vehicles in the class, and will boast U.S. production out of its Marysville plant. Honda noted in its statement the $18.8 million the company invested in expanding its Ohio operation, a move that added 50 new full-time jobs. With Ford returning Fusion production to Flat Rock, Michigan, automakers are battling over job creation in the Midwest as much as they are hybrid sales. Both aspects are excellent for company publicity.

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