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Honda Concept Strikes Accord

honda accord concept
By Ann Job
A sneak peek of what the 2008 Accord coupe may look like.
Fresh off its 11th straight year of record U.S. sales, Honda showed a sleek new Accord coupe concept that officials said closely resembles the 2008 Accord Coupe that arrives in showrooms this fall.

The new-generation 5-passenger Accord Coupe will be “the boldest, roomiest, most-refined and exhilarating car in the segment,” said John Mendel, senior vice president of automobile operations at American Honda Motor Co. “… This is a more emotional design (than ever).”

The silver-colored Accord Coupe concept features a long hood, 6-sided grille, projector headlights, sculpted lower body and quad exhaust outlets integrated into the lower bumper.

The so-called C pillars―the parts of the roofline that extend down and around the car’s rear window―are intriguingly narrow in the Accord Coupe concept. This contrasts with vision-blocking, thick pillars that usually are around the rear windows of coupes today.

While prices and specs were not released, Mendel said the upcoming production Accord Coupe will feature an i-VTEC V6 with the next version of Honda’s variable cylinder engine management system. It’s expected that the new Accord Coupe will have “a significant improvement in fuel economy.”

Currently, coupe sales make up only about 9 percent of total Accord sales in the U.S. Mendel said he looks for the new Accord Coupe to be a strong seller, though he would not provide sales targets.

Honda research projects growth in coupe sales in America as high as 34 percent from now to 2011, Mendel said.

Honda isn’t the only automaker looking at coupe sales. Nissan recently announced it is adding a coupe model to its Altima line for the first time. It arrives in showrooms later this year.

Coupe buyers tend to be younger than sedan buyers, researchers say. And Honda buyer profiles bear this out.

Only 12 percent of Accord sedan buyers are under age 30 today, while 39 percent of Accord coupe buyers are under age 30, Mendel said.

Honda has sold nearly 10 million midsize Accords in the U.S. since the car debuted in 1976, and the Accord ranks as Honda’s top-selling vehicle. For several years, the Accord was the best-selling car in the country, but the title now is held by a midsize sedan, the Toyota Camry.

Still, the Accord is historic, because it was the first vehicle that Honda built in the U.S., at a factory in Ohio that opened in the 1980s.

Mendel would not disclose if the next-generation Accord will continue to offer a gas-electric hybrid version, as it does now. But he said the styling of the coupe concept “is a very good indication of the styling direction of the (next) Accord sedan.”

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