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Future models - Honda - Accord

Next Honda Accord may solely be hybrid flagship

Case management: Honda Australia is awaiting the results of a business case to see if it can bring in the new-generation Accord next year.

Honda eyes Mercedes C-Class buyers with top-line petrol-electric Accord for 2018

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Honda logo29 Jul 2017

HONDA Australia is set to push the Accord into the premium medium sedan segment next year with the arrival of the all-new 10th-generation series.

Unveiled earlier this month in North America, the new-gen four-door sedan is expected to abandon the low-$30,000 starting point of the existing VTi four-cylinder version, for a higher-spec petrol-electric hybrid series Down Under.

The move will pitch the Thai-built Japanese mid-sizer into the circa-$55,000 sector against the hot-selling Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

As revealed in the middle of July, the Accord Hybrid in US-spec adopts a pair of world-first electric drive motors employing magnets rather than heavy rare-earth metals, assisting a 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine.

It uses floor-mounted rather than boot-sited batteries, within the company’s lighter and stronger ‘Earth Dreams’ electrification-ready architecture, for improved packaging.

While unwilling to confirm exact pricing and specification, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said he was confident that the long-lived nameplate would offer buyers an appealing high-tech, low-emissions alternative to the premium offerings populating the sub-$60,000 price point.

Honda has already offered a petrol-electric option on the outgoing Accord as the limited-run toe-in-the water exercise Sport Hybrid in mid-2015, but reviews were tepid and the $60,000 pricetag was deemed too high for the limited gains the powertrain upgrade offered at the time.

However, should it be given the green light, the next one might be more aggressively specified, with considerable technological advancements as part of the 10th-generation Accord clean-sheet redesign.

“Our absolute desire is to have the new model,” Mr Collins told GoAuto at the launch of the CR-V in Canberra this month, reiterating his previous statements about continuing the nameplate on in Australia.

“But we need all the numbers to stack up. The segment is still very challenging, so I would expect by the next couple of months we’ll be able to confirm the next Accord.”

Offering a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain might give the big Honda sedan an important point of difference.

While the sub-$60,000 mid-size segment is down 5.3 per cent year-on-year in the first six months of 2017, the premium C-Class is up 35.8 per cent over the same period.

“The business case for the Accord (is holding it back),” Mr Collins admitted.

“The segment continues to decline, and what we’re trying to do is make it a flagship of our range, and for us to be able to price it appropriately and spec it appropriately. We need to do that, and once we do that, we’ll make the announcement regarding the new model.

“I don’t want to speculate on the price, but it certainly won’t be a $30,000 medium-sized car. It would be a well-specced flagship type of car. And whether it’s one grade or two grades we’re still working through that. It could possibly be hybrid only. That would obviously strip the volumes substantially, but it’s possible.”

As reported, the other powertrain option for the Accord in some markets will be the 191kW/342Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit that is a detuned version of the engine used to power the potent Civic Type R hot hatch.

Mr Collins said he was undeterred by the disappointing sales performance of the previous V6-powered all-wheel-drive Legend luxury flagship that sold in Australia between 2006 and 2014 from about $76,000.

“There is still a place for a flagship sedan,” Mr Collins said, adding that a minimum of 50 units per month would be necessary for the case to fly.

“It’s not just about the volume… despite it being a tough market, and despite a lot of the Europeans coming down (in price)."

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