Honda Pepping Up Civic Hybrid

The move comes as the company vies with rival Toyota for green car dominance.
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Honda

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rolled out a new gas-electric hybrid engine that it said will power 2006 model Civics starting this fall.

The big Japanese carmaker said its new engine, called the New Honda Hybrid System, boosts performance by 20% while cutting the system size by 5% and "attaining a world-leading level of emissions performance."

Hybrid engines use gasoline for most driving, but a battery-driven internal electric motor kicks in to save gas sometimes, such as when the car is stopped. Honda and rival

Toyota

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have taken the lead in bringing hybrid-powered versions of their most popular small and midsize cars, such as Honda's Accord and Toyota's Camry, to market.

"The 2006 Civic with the New Honda Hybrid System will offer significant improvements in both performance and fuel economy over a similarly equipped 2005 Civic Hybrid," Honda said Tuesday.