Honda to Showcase Hybrid, Ultra-Clean Gasoline, Natural Gas and Fuel Cell Production Vehicles at 2003 Challenge Bibendum

September 23, 2003, U.S.A.


TORRANCE, Calif, U.S.A., September 23, 2003 – Underscoring Honda's commitment to the real world application of advanced environmental technologies, the company will field an unprecedented lineup of ultra-clean gasoline, gas-electric hybrid and natural gas vehicles, along with the world's first commercially-certified hydrogen fuel cell car, in the 2003 Michelin Challenge Bibendum environmental event.

The Michelin Challenge Bibendum, taking place September 22-25 in Sacramento and San Francisco, measures vehicle performance in a variety of areas including acceleration, braking, handling and noise, while placing special emphasis on such environmental touchstones as emissions and fuel economy - areas where Honda vehicles excel.

"We are thrilled to be part of an event that seeks to highlight the tremendous progress being made by the automotive industry toward clean, sustainable forms of transportation," said Gunnar Lindstrom, senior manager of American Honda's alternative fuel vehicle programs. "I think our product lineup speaks clearly to Honda's commitment to advanced technology and our belief in the value of real world experience."

Honda has the highest Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rating of any full line automaker and holds four of the top five positions in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2003 fuel economy guide, including the first and only fuel cell vehicle to appear in the EPA's fuel economy ratings.

In addition, every 2003 Honda model is rated at Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) status or better, with three internal combustion Honda models achieving ultra-clean Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) or Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) certification. The Honda FCX fuel cell vehicle is rated as a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV).

Innovation in clean air technologies is certainly not new to Honda. Three decades ago, Honda introduced its innovative Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) lean-burn engine technology, an innovative approach that sought to meet tough new clean air standards by reducing actual engine emissions. When introduced in the 1975 Civic CVCC, Honda became the first automaker to meet the 1970 Clean Air Act's stringent emissions requirements without the use of a catalytic converter.

All seven Team Honda Challenge Bibendum entries are current production products - not futuristic concepts. These entries include the Honda Accord EX, Civic Hybrid, Civic GX, Element, FCX, Insight and Acura MDX.

The first fuel cell vehicle certified by both EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for regular highway use, the Honda FCX is powered by gaseous hydrogen and emits only water vapor.

A pair of Civic models illustrate the advanced powertrain technology options that Honda currently offers for consumer and commercial use. The 2003 Civic Hybrid, for example, adds Honda's innovative Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain to Honda's popular Civic Sedan. The Civic Hybrid delivers exceptional fuel economy and is the first hybrid vehicle to earn AT-PZEV certification.

The Civic GX is powered by the cleanest internal combustion engine ever tested by EPA. Produced in East Liberty, Ohio, and fueled by clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG), the Civic GX is also the first passenger vehicle to earn AT-PZEV CARB certification.

This alternative-fuel model has seen extensive fleet use since its debut in 1998 and will be offered to retail customers in the future along with a home refueling system.

The most fuel-efficient vehicle since its introduction in December 1999, the Insight introduced American consumers to gasoline-electric hybrid technology. Insight's rigid aluminum body structure and sleek aerodynamic design wrap around Honda's groundbreaking IMA gasoline-electric hybrid powerplant to create one of the most fuel-efficient mass-produced automobiles ever built. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) Insight meets California's Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) emissions standard.

One of the best selling vehicles in America, the Accord has an environmental lineage that includes being the first production vehicle certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) and SULEV. The Accord EX sedan is rated as a PZEV in California when equipped with Honda's 2.4-liter four-cylinder SULEV engine and five-speed automatic transmission. For 2004, availability of the Accord PZEV will be expanded to certain northeastern states.

Team Honda is also fielding the innovative Element, a dorm room on wheels, and an Acura MDX luxury SUV in the Challenge Bibendum. With a lively 260-horsepower VTEC V6 engine and seven-passenger seating, the 2003 MDX is one of the cleanest light trucks on the market with a ULEV-2 emissions rating. The highly versatile Honda Element achieves LEV-2 emissions while setting a new direction in SUV performance, styling and packaging.