May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co. will sell a hybrid version of the Accord in Japan that has the highest fuel-economy rating among mid-sized sedans to close the gap with Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry.
The car will initially go on sale June 21 in Japan, and has a fuel-efficiency rating of 30 kilometers a liter under the country’s JC08 testing standards, Tokyo-based Honda said in a statement today. The Camry hybrid travels 23.4 kilometers a liter, according to Toyota, while Nissan Motor Co. says its Teana, which runs on gasoline, goes 11.4 kilometers.
Honda plans to introduce the latest Accord in the U.S. this fall as the carmaker targets record sales in its biggest market this year. The newest version, the Accord’s ninth since its debut in 1976, is part of Honda’s plan to increase global sales of hybrids as buyers seek more energy-efficient vehicles.
The latest model’s fuel efficiency is “extraordinary,” Koichi Sugimoto, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at BNP Paribas SA with a buy rating on Honda, said by phone. “The new hybrid technology will definitely be a big strength for Honda.”
Japanese fuel-economy standards differ from the U.S. because the ratings are calculated from tests conducted under different driving conditions.
The automaker, led by President Takanobu Ito, will have hybrid systems with one to three motors catering to the power requirements of models ranging from compacts to the NSX supercar, it said in September. Honda is aiming for annual global sales to climb to 6 million units by the year ending March 2017, Ito said Sept 21.
The Accord was the best-selling car in April in the U.S., where it last led annual sales in 2001. Honda sold 33,538 units of the Accord last month, beating the 31,710 for Toyota’s Camry, according to figures from the companies.
As of April, Accord sales have surged 26 percent this year in that market, compared with a 6.8 percent drop for the Camry, the top-selling car in the U.S. for 11 years through 2012.
The 2013 Accord is the top pick among mid-size sedans, followed by Hyundai’s Sonata GLS and the Camry, Consumer Reports magazine said Feb. 26. The Camry XLE V6 was the highest-rated family car among models with a larger engine, according to the magazine’s review.
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