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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

Honda emphasizing fuel economy, CEO says


TOKYO — Takanobu Ito, chief executive officer of Honda Motor Co., said he is focusing on fuel efficiency as Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. threaten Honda's leading position in North America.

Ford's new Fiesta subcompact gets up to 33 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving, compared with 31 mpg for Honda's most economical Fit hatchback. Hyundai's new Sonata sedan tops Honda's top-selling Accord in economy and horsepower.

Tomohiko Kawanabe, president of Honda's research and development unit, said Mr. Ito delayed release of a revamped Civic compact after telling engineers he was unhappy with its size and fuel economy.

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