TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. said on Tuesday it had received about 700 orders in Japan for its new Civic hybrid sedan over a one-month period before the model goes on sale on Nov. 22.
That compares with an average monthly sales target of 500 units for the life of the model, and actual domestic sales of 36 units a month for the previous Civic hybrid during 2004, Japan's third-biggest automaker said.
For the gasoline-only Civic, first-month orders in Japan came in at roughly 2,000 units, in line with the monthly sales target.
Sales of new models in Japan tend to overshoot targets in the first few months and decline towards the end of the cycle.
While gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles have helped cultivate a "green" image for Honda and rival Toyota Motor Corp., they are hardly -- if at all -- profitable so far, and tend to weigh on overall fleet margins.
But a spokeswoman said that more than half of the orders for the gasoline-only Civic were for the higher-end 1.8GL version, boding well for profitability.
Honda has targeted annual global sales of more than 600,000 Civics, including 40,000 hybrid versions.
The Civic is Honda's best-selling car after the Accord, and the auto maker is counting on the improved gasoline and hybrid systems to reignite flagging sales of the model.