Honda Motor Co. will respond to growing demand for by hybrid cars by launching its hybrid Fit vehicle in the fall of 2010, 18 months sooner than previously announced, Japanese newspaper Nikkei said today without citing sources.

The gas-electric Honda's Fit hybrid is expected to sell for 1.5 million yen ($15,800) and the automaker expects to sell more than 50,000 of them per year, the paper said.

A spokesman for Honda did not confirm a date for release or price for the car.

Honda, the second largest automaker in Japan, unveiled its Insight hybrid in February with a starting price of $19,960. Then in April, the car became the first hybrid to top the best seller list. The company is also planning to release two more hybrids by 2012; starting with the CR-Z sports car due in 2010 and the Civic hybrid which has a release date that has not been confirmed.

Japan's biggest automaker, Toyota, has been successful in the hybrid vehicle market with reportedly 110,000 orders for its new Prius. Toyota plans to increase its output of the vehicle by 20 percent compared to the original schedule to about 50,000 cars per month, broadcaster NHK reported Wednesday.