WAKO, Japan -- Honda Motor Co. predicts hybrid versions of the Accord sedan will account for less than 10 percent of the nameplate's U.S. sales. But Honda still plans to manufacture the Accord Hybrid in the United States, using hybrid components from Japan.
Production of the Accord Hybrid, which was scheduled to arrive in Japanese showrooms on Friday, June 21, will begin this summer at Honda's Marysville, Ohio, plant, and U.S. sales begin in fall, said Hiroo Shimada, chief engineer of Honda's new two-motor and plug-in hybrid technology.
The Accord Plug-in Hybrid, already on sale stateside, will continue to be made at Honda's Sayama plant in Japan. But Shimada said that, too, could one day be made in the United States.
The standard hybrid will compete against hybrid variants of the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion in the mid-sized sedan segment. The car has Honda's new two-motor hybrid system and a lithium ion battery, and underpins Honda's hopes of regaining momentum in hybrid sales after losing ground to Toyota Motor Corp.
Together, both hybrid variants will account for less than 10 percent of the Accord family's U.S. sales, predicted Tetsuya Nomura, chief engineer for the Accord's hybrid variants.
But the more mainstream, less expensive standard hybrid will outsell the plug-in hybrid, he said. He declined to give a sales forecast.
"If you look at other companies, there are still some issues with plug-ins, including a lack of infrastructure," Nomura said. "The regular hybrid has higher sales potential."
The plug-in hybrid hit dealer lots in the United States in January. So far that is the only market in the world where it is on sale.
Honda has sold only 158 Accord Plug-in Hybrids, the company said. That compares with about 180,000 units of the regular gasoline version of the 2013 Accord, which went on sale last fall, the company said.
In hybrid-crazy Japan, by contrast, Honda won't even sell the gasoline-only version of the mid-sized sedan. Hybrid vehicles account for 36 percent of Honda's Japan sales.