Honda is hoping to claw back much of the hybrid car market that it lost to Toyota and its segment leading Prius with an all new dedicated hybrid model of its own. Despite beating Toyota to the hybrid market with the launch of the Insight back in 1999, Honda has since seen most hybrid-buyers head for the Prius because of the image and status it presents. Here was an odd-looking vehicle that people immediately new was eco-friendly, while at the same time offering plenty of interior space and reasonable performance.

Honda hopes to change all that with the launch ifs its new hybrid car that it claims will cost less than the Prius and offer better fuel-consumption figures, according to Newsweek. Designers won’t be making the same mistake of making the car’s styling subtle as they've done with previous hybrids. Instead, they’ll base the car on an all-new platform and pickup some of the quirky styling made famous on some of its earlier models.

Engineers at Honda’s California division have been testing the new hybrid at night through the streets of LA and hope to have it ready by 2010. Pictured above is a Honda’s small sports-hybrid concept car displayed at March’s Geneva Motor Show, which the new car may draw some of its styling from.