Fleet News

Fleets will make 2007 the year of the hybrid

Honda and Toyota will sell record numbers of hybrid cars in the UK this year as acceptance of the technology grows among customers.

Honda has secured additional supply of Civic Hybrid IMA models from the factory in Japan, meaning it will sell around 4,000 examples in the UK this year, compared to just 600 in 2006.

So far this year, Honda has sold 1,100 Civic Hybrids compared with just 183 at the same point last year.

Fleet is fuelling much of the demand, especially from public sector organisations which have green targets to meet.

Bernard Bradley, head of sales operations at Honda, said: “This year is a massive one for Honda hybrids. By the end of 2007 we’ll have sold five times as many Civic Hybrids as in 2006.

“The technology is taking off in the fleet sector where businesses want to be seen to be green.”

Over at Toyota, the manufacturer has recently revised its Prius sales forecast for this year up from around 6,000 units to 9,000.

Both manufacturers cite growing customer confidence in the hybrid technology, which uses an in-built electric motor to supply additional power to a petrol engine.

Honda has offered the four-door Civic Hybrid IMA model in the UK since 2006, but has never actively marketed the car because of restricted supply.

Now, thanks to a massive boost in numbers available it is planning to target fleet operators with the model and point out its cost saving benefits such as being exempt from the London congestion charge and offering drivers lower benefit-in-kind tax bills.

Toyota has enjoyed huge success with its Prius, especially since the less quirkily-styled second generation hatchback version was launched in January 2004.

In that year Toyota sold 1,588 models and this has grown steadily ever since, with 2006 seeing 5,017 units sold. Of that, fleet sales accounted for around half of sales.

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