DETROIT – A vehicle from Honda Motor Co. Ltd.’s Acura brand will be the first recipient of the auto maker’s long-awaited 4-cyl. turbodiesel engine next year, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui tells media at the 2008 North American International Auto Show here.

Fukui says there is no grand plan to make Acura a diesel brand, but the product cadence of the unnamed Acura model coincided with Honda’s promised 2009 U.S. debut of its clean diesel.

The auto maker also has said diesels will proliferate in its Honda brand lineup, in larger models.

Fukui is bullish on diesels, believing Honda will be able to exceed its European production levels of 100,000 units annually in the U.S.

“We’ll probably be achieving a 150,000-unit base,” he says, adding diesel volume in the U.S. probably will be about half of Honda’s expected hybrid volume.

Honda also is debuting a new, dedicated hybrid-electric vehicle next year priced below the Civic Hybrid.

Fukui expects Honda to make money on diesels.

“Diesel is costly, but I think we can make a vehicle that has an appropriate profit level,” he says here during a roundtable interview. “We have achieved that already in Europe. The diesel system we will introduce in the U.S. doesn’t require urea, so the cost is not (as) much.”

Additionally, existing engine production will be utilized for the upcoming diesel mill in order to keep costs down.

Meanwhile, Fukui says a V-6 turbodiesel is coming later than Honda's earlier timeline of 2010 – possibly as late as 2015.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com