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With 2013 Honda Accord, Plug-in Option Hits Mainstream Model

Honda celebrated a banner sales month in December. In fact, 2012 was American Honda’s fourth-best sales year ever, and its best sales result since 2008. This could be a good thing for plug-in cars because the company will begin selling the Accord Plug-in Hybrid in California and New York on January 15. The Accord will become the most popular passenger vehicle platform yet to offer a plug-in option.

The market for plug-in vehicles so far has mostly focused on new and unfamiliar vehicles, such as the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Mitsubishi i-MiEV—or models from start-up companies like Tesla, Fisker and Coda. These models could have the market’s most compelling features and benefits, but their novelty (and in some cases unconventional design) present an uphill battle for marketers. It’s tough to sell cars that people don’t see everyday—or don’t view as attractive and accessible. The Accord is about as accessible as you can get.

The plug-in Prius has been reasonably well received in a short period of time, in part because the Prius model is relatively well known to consumers. (However, the market persona of the Prius is decidedly green/alternative.)

Meanwhile, the Honda Accord in December 2012 was the third most popular passenger vehicle in America—only slightly trailing the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry. Yes, the Civic and Camry have both been available as conventional hybrids for about a decade, and their hybrid sales have not been stellar. But both of those vehicles have had to contend with the conventional Prius, which has dominated the hybrid market with much better fuel efficiency numbers, a competitive price, and decent space for five adults.

The 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid enters a plug-in car market that is more open to newcomers—if delivered with attractive features and pricing.

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