Honda Motor Co. has announced it plans to improve the fuel-efficiency of its U.S. fleet by using “affordable” hybrid-engine technology in at least one model of subcompact car by 2009, as well as offering diesel versions of its larger vehicles. A company official characterized the plan this way: “At this moment, we say hybrid for small cars and diesel for large cars … but we have several other alternatives we are looking into.” The other alternatives include natural-gas powered cars as well as flex-fuel vehicles that can run on a blend of up to 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, but pretty much always run on pure gasoline due to the scarcity of ethanol fueling stations in the U.S. Honda has said its tiny hybrid model will likely cost only about $2,000 more than a non-hybrid version of the same car, down from the approximately $4,000 premium on a current-model Civic hybrid.

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