Honda's High Hopes for Hybrids

The Japanese automaker plans to sell 500,000 hybrids a year by the early 2010s, including a gas-electric version of the Fit subcompact
Honda CEO Takeo Fukui, speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on May 21, announced that by the early 2010s Honda aims to sell 500,000 hybrids a year. YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Which Japanese automaker embarrassed Detroit by launching the first hybrid in the U.S.? Not the one you probably think. Toyota (TM) may get all the attention now, but the hybrid pioneer honors originally went to Honda (HMC), which beat Toyota to the market with the first gas-electric car, the Honda Insight, in 1999. That's why Honda execs must be steamed by Toyota's May 15 announcement that it has sold more than 1 million Prius hybrids.

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