DETROIT – Honda Motor Co. Ltd. CEO Takeo Fukui says the auto maker is hard at work on creating a diesel engine that could be sold in all 50 U.S. states.

Honda is selling its Civic with a 2.2L 4-cyl. turbodiesel in Europe right now to much success, but Fukui says due to strict emission standards in California and four New England states the engine cannot be sold in those states.

“Right now, we could bring it to 40 states in the U.S., but that’s not what we want to do at Honda,” Fukui tells a small group of reporters in an interview here at the North American International Auto Show.

“So our goal is as soon as possible to develop a diesel engine that will meet the California strict standards,” he says.

“When we are able to do that, we believe it would be welcomed in the American market.”

Fukui says diesels will be mostly utilized for Honda’s U.S. light trucks.

As such, the auto maker will likely not use its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid-electric technology for a vehicle such as the Ridgeline compact pickup.

“We’re making the hybrid engines for small cars right now, like the Civic, so we’re thinking about different methods for the light trucks,” he says of a possible IMA light truck application.

He says diesels, or gasoline engines that get better fuel efficiency through the use of technologies such as variable cylinder management, are more appropriate for light trucks.

cschweinsberg@primediabusiness.com