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Civic hybrids in India--at a price

The race to make an ultra-cheap, sub-$3,000 car for emerging auto markets has received plenty of attention of late with India’s Tata and Nissan-Renault chief Carlos Ghosn among the biggest cheerleaders.

Honda, though, seems to have different ideas—at least when it comes to environmentally friendly autos. According to reports in today’s Nikkei, Japanese business daily, Honda is planning to start exporting hybrid Civics from Japan to India from 2008. Citing unnamed sources in India, the Nikkei reckons Honda Siel Cars India will commence importing the gas-sipping sedans after an approval system for hybrid cars is created in India.

In one sense that looks a smart move. Honda’s brand in India is seen as near-luxury and an environmentally friendly option could well appeal to those looking for eco-bragging rights among their peer group. Still, it’s hard to believe the hybrids would do much for overall sales at Honda, which controls about 4% of the Indian auto market. The Nikkei story adds that India’s import tariffs mean the price of an imported Civic hybrid will run to an eye-watering $43,000—double the price in Japan for the same model.

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