updated 10/8/2004 1:31:47 PM ET 2004-10-08T17:31:47

Honda Motor Co. expects the introduction of its new gas-electric version of the Accord to boost its U.S. sales of hybrid vehicles to more than 45,000 next year.

Honda officials said Thursday they expect to sell 20,000 hybrid versions of the Accord sedan, in addition to the Honda Insight and Civic hybrid compacts.

About 52,000 hybrid vehicles have been sold in the United States this year, but dealers have long waiting lists.

The Accord hybrid, fitted with a V-6 engine and an electric motor, will be launched in December and is designed to appeal to mainstream car buyers.

"Our target buyer is an affluent, well-educated professional of around 50, with a household income of $100,000-plus," Bonawitz said.

The Accord hybrid will be priced around $30,000. An equivalent conventional Accord with a V-6 engine costs $26,600.

The hybrid model delivers more horsepower and more torque than a conventional Accord with a V-6. Honda says the hybrid Accord gets 30 miles per gallon in the city, and 37 on the highway, compared with 21 and 31 miles per gallon for the Accord V-6.

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