Honda was one of the first carmakers to launch a hybrid vehicle with its original Insight compact but it quickly lost the limelight when Toyota’s much more practical Prius hit the market. Now Honda hopes to claim back the lead in fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles with the launch of the first ever mainstream fuel-cell vehicle next year as well as a hybrid sports car. A Honda exec has now revealed that a third model will also be launched as a direct rival to the market leading Prius.

Officials hope to sell up to 100,000 units of the new hybrid car in North America each year when it arrives in 2009. To reach this ambitious target the car will be priced under the Honda Civic Hybrid, as revealed by the carmaker’s COO Takanobu Ito in an interview with Automotive News.

It will seat four people and derive its styling from the FCX fuel cell sedan concept (pictured). Engineers are still developing the car and are yet to overcome the challenge of reducing the weight of current battery technology.

The new model will eventually be sold as a global vehicle with an annual sales target of 200,000 units.