‘New Energy’ is the current buzz word amongst Chinese politicians and economists, China is looking to avoid the oil trap that many Western nations, particulary the USA found itself in due to the development of automobile use and a lack of support for public transport. China thankfully has strong public transport infrastructure with all tier one cities having subway networks and the majority of tier 2 cities developing their own subway networks to take the ease of the roads. Chinese auto manufacturers are also doing their bit for the environment with the introduction of fuel sipping engines, but there is no real focus on hybrid vehicles as of yet. FAW-Toyota have put the Prius into production in China but sales have not yet taken off, just 302 vehicles were sold in February when the latest generation launched.
If Toyota are doing something, then you can bet that Honda are going to do it as well. The below spy shots coupled with Chinese media reports indicate that Dongfeng-Honda are planning to the Civic Hybrid into production in China. Originally the hybrid was imported into China and sold at 250,000rmb but later discounted to somewhere in the 160,000rmb range to get them off dealership floors. Even at 160,000RMB takers were not exactly convinced.
With fuel economy in the 5.4L per 100km range the Civic Hybrid seems like a good deal, but when you see the estimated 270,000RMB price tag the hybrids novelty factor soon wears off when you realize you can buy a decent hatchback for 150,000RMB and put the remainder towards a lifetime of fuel and repair costs. Hybrids need to be cheap if they are going to succeed in China.