Honda Targets Sales in Japan With Hybrid Freed, New Minivan

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co., Japan’s third- largest carmaker, will start selling a hybrid version of its Freed minivan tomorrow as it seeks to boost sales among domestic consumers looking for more fuel-efficient cars.

The hybrid Freed will start from 2.18 million yen ($28,700), according to a statement by the Tokyo-based company today. The new gas-electric version has a fuel-economy rating of 24 kilometers per liter, compared with 17 kilometers per liter for the conventional gasoline model, according to Honda.

“With the new Freed, we hope to attract the increasing number of ‘downsizers’ in the Japanese market,” Sho Minekawa, a managing officer at Honda, said today at a press conference in Tokyo. “We expect to get half of our sales from hybrid models by the end of March next year.”

The company aims to sell 10,000 units of the Freed hybrid minivan a month, Minekawa said. Honda will begin selling a revamped Insight hybrid starting Nov. 11 from 1.9 million yen and a new minicar from mid-December called the “N Box.”

Honda shares rose 2.75 percent to 2,393 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo. The stock has slid 26 percent this year, compared with a 15 percent drop for the broader Topix index.

--Editors: Chua Kong Ho, Frank Longid