• Kyodo

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Honda Motor Co. on Monday released its new 2003 Accord model in the United States — pre-empting the car’s release on the Japanese market, Honda’s U.S. unit said.

U.S. prices for the new Accord lineup, equipped with antilock brakes and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel as standard features, have increased an average of 1.37 percent, or $293, according to America Honda Motor Co.

Prices start at $15,800.

“Our goal in developing the new Accord was to provide added value to consumers, while staying in the same price range,” said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of America Honda.

The company said the Accord, the best-selling car in the U.S., has undergone its most dramatic full-model change ever.

In 2001, Honda sold 415,000 Accords in the U.S., surpassing the Camry produced by Toyota Motor Corp. to reclaim the top spot for the first time in 10 years.

The company now aims to sell 400,000 new Accords on an annual basis, company officials said.

Honda also said that all four-cylinder sedan models equipped with automatic transmission sold in California will meet the state’s super ultra low emission vehicle emissions requirement, a first for gasoline-powered mass-market vehicles.

The new Accord will be released in Japan later this fall.

DaimlerChrysler recall

The Japanese unit of German automaker DaimlerChrysler AG said Tuesday it is recalling three types of imported jeeps because of defects that could cause fires.

DaimlerChrysler Japan Holding Ltd. said it has notified the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport that it will collect and repair for free Jeep Cherokees, Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Wranglers.

The shape of the manifolds in the vehicles is defective, allowing dust and leaves to be trapped, the company said, adding that in a worst case scenario, the material could catch fire due to the high temperature of exhaust gases.

Subject to the recall are 4,981 right-hand-drive vehicles imported between August 1999 and May this year, it said.

Of these, 1,900 Jeep Wranglers imported between October 2000 and March this year also have a defect in the ignition switch, another potential source of fire, the company said.

Used car sales down

Sales of used motor vehicles in Japan fell 7.3 percent in August from a year earlier to 401,121 units, down for the fourth straight month, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Tuesday.

The decline reflects sluggish demand for new vehicles amid the prolonged economic slump, an association official said.

Some 345,371 of the used vehicles sold in the month were cars, down 7 percent from a year earlier and for the fourth consecutive month.

Sales of used trucks were also slack due to the economic slump, falling 10.4 percent to 41,790 units, down for the third straight month, the association said.

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