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Honda CR-Z, Big in Japan

Following on the heals of winning the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization’s Good Design Award for the third year in a row, the Honda CR-Z just won the 2010 Japan Car of the Year Award.

This prestigious award has been given to the top cars in Japan for the past 31 years. The Japan Car of the Year is selected by a panel of 60 jurors, primarily journalists. They each pick a car and the car with the most votes wins.

The 2009 Japan Car of the Year was the Toyota Prius hybrid which barely managed to edge out the Honda Insight, so this must be a sweet victory for the people at Honda.

The Honda CR-Z was lauded for its combination of quality of driving experience and its excellent mileage. The original body design along with the large amount of high-tech gadgetry it packs. Basically, what we are saying, is that The Honda CR-Z is Big in Japan.

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Honda Civic Hybrid Batteries Getting Software Fix

While it remains unclear as to whether or not Honda Civic hybrid batteries really did wear out sooner due to a software glitch, Honda is going to institute a fix for the alleged problem.

Honda recently let owners of 2006 – 2008 Civic hybrids know that there may be a software problem and have asked them to bring their hybrids in for some reprogramming. The reason it wasn’t made an official recall was because the problem didn’t affect safety at all.

The civic software problem is blamed for causing the nickel hydride batteries to wear out well before the warranty period of eight years and 100,000 miles.

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Honda Insight Looks to Surpass Toyota Prius MPG

The Toyota Prius absolutely crushed the Honda Insight in sales during 2009 and it was probably for a number of reasons, one of which is likely the superior gas mileage that the Prius gets.

The Prius, which boasts 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway, sold nearly 140,000 cars in 2009. In an interview with Auto News, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito, stated that Honda was planning on amping up their mpg rating on future Insight models to surpass the Toyota Prius.

In 2009, despite going for $2,500 less than a Prius, a mere 20,572 Honda Insight’s were sold with US mpg rating of 40/43. Clearly Honda will have to make some dramatic changes to add another 11 mpg to the Insight’s performance.

Will Honda be able to compete in the hybrid car market in coming years? Let us know what you think.

Check out some used Honda Accord hybrids.

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Honda CR-Z Pics and Specs Leaked

A pamphlet containing pictures of and specs for the 2011 Honda CR-Z was recently leaked to the media.

On the eco auto side of things, the 2011 Hybrid CR-Z boasts LED daytime running lights and turn signals in the mirrors, as well as three driving modes, Eco, Normal and Sport. The mode can easily be changed from the dashboard.

The Honda pamphlet gives the details on the new hybrid hatch CR-Z including a four-cylinder, 112 horsepower 1.5 liter engine which is assisted by a 14hp electric motor. The engine is capable of generating 107 lb-ft of torque with an integrated Motor Assist system adding another 57 lb-ft at a mere 1000rpm.

Not exactly a bolt of lightning, the 2011 Hybrid CR-Z goes from 0 – 60 mph in 9.7 seconds.

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More Hybrids Sold in Japan than United States

An interesting combination of the economic recession in the United States and a perfect storm of contributing factors in Japan has resulted in Japan buying more hybrid vehicles in June than the U.S.

America’s population is more than double that of Japan’s and their GDP is almost five times, yet, in the month of June there were 8,782 Honda Insight hybrids sold and  22,292 Toyota Prius hybrids sold. Those two companies alone accounted for far more sales in Japan than all of the hybrids sold in U.S., which capped out at 26,205.

The dip in American car sales is no surprise, but what is really interesting the spike in Japan that has led to a seven month waiting list just to buy a 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid (pictured above).

It’s mainly a combination of high gas prices in Japan, at $4.50/gallon, and a government tax break that has made all hybrids exempt from purchasing tax.

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Hybrid Vehicle Sales Up for Ford and Honda

You might have heard a lot of hubbub about how hybrid vehicle sales are down from last year. The economy was great in most of 2008 and gas was going for $4 a gallon. Hybrids were hot. Toyota posted a drop of 42 percent in overall sales this April from last April.

But in the cases of Ford and Honda, things have been looking up.

Despite car sales being pretty dismal this year, Ford still managed to move a record number of Fusions in April with 18,321 sold. Not considering that over 1,000 of those Ford Fusions were hybrids. Combined with sales of the Ford Escape hybrid, Ford ended up selling 2,300 hybrids in total for April, helping make for an increase in Ford hybrid sales by 21 percent over last year.

Meanwhile, Honda saw a 25 percent drop in overall sales in April from last year, but saw a surge in hybrid sales. With the new Honda Insight selling 2,096 units and the Civic Hybrid selling 3,461, Honda hybrids manage to sell 25 percent more than last April.

If you’re thinking of buying a used hybrid vehicle yourself, check out and their hybrid vehicle section.

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Honda FCX Clarity Named World Green Car

At the New York Auto Show this morning, the Honda FCX Clarity was named the World Green Car.

The list of 22 candidates was made of cars which had at least 10 produced and were either being driven by owners or were operating in test fleets. Among the top vote-getters along with Honda were the Toyota iQ and the Mitsubishi iMiEV.

The FCX Clarity is interestingly enough, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. So that makes for a point for hydrogen vehicles in their eternal battle against electric and hybrid cards for the title of best choice for the future of automotive drive trains.

Where do you think the future lies? It’s a hot topic but we’d love to know where you stand on the battle between hyrdrogen vehicles and electric cars.

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Toyota Prius Price Reduced

As we reported earlier, the Honda Insight has been selling like hotcakes in Japan and there were rumors bubbling that the Insight’s main hybrid competition, the Toyota Prius, might see a price drop to better compete with the Insight.

Well that rumor has moved into the realm of fact as Toyota has announced that the current Prius model will stick around for a while and will be available for a few thousand dollars less than before at $19,250 USD (1.89 million yen), making it the same price (in Japan) as the Inisght.

The 2010 Toyota Prius price point has not been set yet but there are rumors that Toyota is planning on releasing an even cheaper hybrid model which may be priced as low as $14,000 USD.

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Honda Toyota Hybrid Price War?

The highly popular Toyota Prius hybrid has established itself as the top hybrid vehicle. That was until the Honda Insight came along, another quality Japanese hybrid vehicle. The Honda Insight sold 18,000 cars in Japan in its first month of sales – more than Honda had even predicted.

Part of the success of the Insight is attributed to its affordability, which is a few thousand dollars cheaper than the Toyota Prius. The Insight’s TV advertisements will start airing in the US this Monday and will focus on the relative low cost of the Inisight at $20,470 and will shoot for a broad demographic with the tag line, “the hybrid for everyone.”

Now rumors are swirling that Toyota will be looking to undercut Honda’s price advantage in the near future with a new hybrid model that costs 20 – 30 percent less than the Prius. Exciting news for those of us thinking about getting a hybrid in the next couple years.

Cars For Sale –

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World Green Car of the Year Finalists Announced

The three World Green Car of the Year finalists were announced yesterday and they are: the Toyota iQ, the Mitsubishi iMiEV and the Honda FCX Clarity (pictured above).

The Toyota iQ is a diminutive four-seater. It runs off an impressive 1.0 liter engine that can get up to 67 mpg and has already won its own share of awards, including Japan’s Car of the Year Award.

The Mitsubishi iMiEV is an all-electric vehicle that has boasts outstanding handling and impressive acceleration. This sub-compact electric vehicle has an 85-mile range and a top speed of 80 mph.

The Honda FCX Clarity, is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle with a 270 mile range on a full tank. Why calculate the range? Because you need to always be in range of one of the few filling stations out there. California, one of the few places to make a concerted effort to establish hydrogen fuel stations, still only has 24 to date. Will hydrogen be able to make the leap to a feasible infrastructure? Who knows, but it sure is tempting considering they run completely emission-free. Yes, I know, generating the hydrogen and running the stations isn’t emission free. If you have a problem with hydrogen fuel-cell cars take it up with the Governator.

Last year’s winner was the BMW 118d – a diesel car that gets 60 mpg. This year’s winner will be chosen on April 9.

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