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What's going on in Japan? (No.18)

The debut last week of Honda Motor Co.'s relatively cheap hybrid car, the Fit, may bring down prices in the sector. Prices of the hybrid version of the Fit range from 1.59 million yen ($19,400) to 2.1 million yen, compared with 1.23 million yen to 1.698 million yen for gasoline-engine Fit models. But the 1.59 million price tag makes it the lowest-priced hybrid in Japan, continuing a trend toward lower prices for hybrids. At the start of 2009, Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius model cost more than 2.3 million yen. In February 2009, Honda undercut Toyota with its Insight hybrid, starting at 1.89 million yen. While the hybrid Fit has fuel efficiency of 30 kilometers per liter, that of Toyota's new hybrid car is expected to be around 44 km per liter. Prius gets about 38 km per liter. Toyota and Honda are currently the only Japanese automakers manufacturing hybrid cars, but other manufacturers are preparing to enter the market.

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