Update: Inexpensive and fuel-efficiency focused, Honda's new dedicated Prius fighter will be taking off its wraps at the Paris Motor Show, according to the latest reports. The new car is hoped to give Honda renewed vigor in the struggle against Toyota's ascendancy to the top of the hybrid ranks, while at the same time boosting the company's hybrid volume sales to competitive figures.

The new dedicated hybrid will be targeted at a lower price-point than the Prius, which should help with volume sales. It is one of four new hybrid models Honda will be rolling out as it works to achieve 500,000 in annual hybrid sales by 2012, reports InsideLine. The reaction in Paris will help Honda gauge what sort of start they are off to with their new round of hybrid vehicles, and whether they will have to dig even deeper to ensure competitiveness.

Original: The Civic Hybrid hasn't been the runaway success that Honda might have hoped, in part because it doesn't have that instant recognizability as a hybrid that the Toyota Prius does. The next hybrid from Honda will be a dedicated model, and according to executive vice president Koichi Kondo, the hybrid unit inside it will cost about half as much to make as the current Civic system.

Savings come from a simplified architecture, lower weight and a smaller overall size, reports the Nikkei. The hybrid system, or Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), is already being developed for the new car, which is itself on target for release in early 2009 according to Honda.

A entry-level five-passenger five-door positioned between the Fit/Jazz and Civic in terms of size, the new car will be price around ¥2 million ($18,800). Styling is tipped to resemble the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, which will give the car the instant recognizability it lacks in Civic form. The car's low price and unique styling are hoped to help push Honda toward its goal of 400,000 annual hybrid sales by 2012, with up to half that burden riding on its shoulders.