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Tokyo unveils the cars of the future

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JAPAN'S largest motor show saw a raft of new vehicles and ideas revealed, including new technology due to reach fleets soon.

An engine designed to be neighbour-friendly is to spearhead the second phase of Honda's bid for a share of diesel car sales in Europe.

Due to be launched in 2007, the next-generation power unit will be specially developed to set new low levels in the amount of noise it produces.

The announcement coincides with Honda launching its new diesel-powered Accord CTDi, which has already set the benchmark for low noise levels and overall engine refinement.

Honda's senior chief engineer Kenichi Nagahiro said: 'Our aim is for this engine to be so quiet when it is in operation, no-one living in the vicinity will be offended. I want it to make a lot less noise than current diesels.'

Nagahiro said development work had started, even though company executives have yet to reach a decision on the capacity of the engine.

He added: 'It is easy for us to reduce the level of noise that reaches the interior of the car by increasing the amount of sound insulation, but cutting or eliminating noise at source is a much more complex process that calls for a technical solution.

'Honda is a new face in the diesel market and we are keen to be successful. Achieving success across Europe is vital if we are to win global recognition, and lower noise levels form an important part of the process.

'We may be late into manufacturing our own diesel engine, but we are very serious about it and feel this source of power has huge potential.'

Sport and efficiency combined in Japanese coupe

COST-CONSCIOUS fleet operators will soon be offered a sporty Japanese coupe boasting average fuel economy of more than 100mpg.

Expected to go on sale in the next 18 months, the fuel-stretching IMAS four-seater (pictured) features the next stage in hybrid technology developed by Honda to blend electricity with petrol power.

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A Honda UK spokesman said: 'The project has yet to be cleared for production, but we will be very surprised if this car fails to reach the showrooms. We're confident it will soon be playing a key role in winning us extra business as fleets become increasingly aware of environmental issues.'

Honda sold 700 examples of the Insight coupe in the UK but stopped importing the car when it launched the hybrid IMA version of the more conventional Civic four-door saloon.

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