DETROIT -- John Mendel is looking for a big difference in his top-selling model.
Due to a variety of factors and circumstances in 2011, Mendel -- Honda's executive vice president of North America -- saw sales of Honda Accord plunge while competitors grew in sales and market share.
Mendel is banking that the new Accord concept Honda revealed Tuesday here in Detroit at the 2012 North American International Auto Show will reverse the company's fortunes.
Marking the 30th anniversary of U.S. production, this new ninth-generation Accord will raise the bar again through a tour de force of new Honda powertrain and safety technologies, geared to ensure that Honda and the Accord continue to lead in fuel economy, safety and fun-to-drive performance, Mendel said at a Tuesday morning press conference.
Honda's Accord sales dipped 16.6 percent in 2011, to a total of 235,625, according to Honda's numbers. In December, it was even worse. On a year-to-year basis, sales of the Accord fell an eye-popping 40 percent. In 2012, Mendel said, Honda expects to sell 300,000 Accords, about a 24 percent increase.
Mendel and Honda are hoping this Accord can help the company recover from an overall shaky year, after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami hurt production in Japan. In 2011, Ford's Fusion emerged as a significant midsize competitor, outselling the Accord.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the new Accord model is that it will come in all-electric and plug-in hybrid versions.
Honda said the all-electric version will have a range of 10 to 15 miles, but said it would be strictly for city-driving purposes. Recharging the battery would take less than 1.5 hours using a 240-volt charger, Honda said.
Mendel stressed the new athletic styling of the Accord coupe, which should be on the market by the fall. The plug-in version will likely go on sale next winter, but Mendel did not specify when the market could see the all-electric version.
Click ahead for a look at the new Accord coupe.