Contrary to what just-auto has previously been told, the versions of Honda's redesigned 2003 Accord sold in Japan and Europe will be "quite a bit different and smaller than the US model", an industry source revealed yesterday, writes just-auto.com deputy editor Graeme Roberts.

There were three distinct 1998-2002 model year Accord lines - the 'wide body' US-Asia-Pacific version (built in the US and Thailand) and the 'narrow body' Japanese (built in Japan) versions and the UK-Europe (built in England) variants which are different again.

All shared some drivetrain and platform components but had unique exterior panels and interiors. Bodystyle availability varied according to market - US buyers were offered a four-door sedan or two-door coupe (still the case with the new 2003 line), the Europeans chose between four-door sedan or five-door hatchbacks and the Japanese were offered either a four-door sedan or a station wagon.

Initially, it had been thought that the redesigned 2003 Accord would be built and sold in essentially the same form world-wide but just-auto has been told that the Japanese- and UK-Europe-specification cars, which will now all be made in Japan, will differ substantially from the US line unveiled on Monday (July 29).

"It'll be the same as with the current 2002 Accords," the source said. "All three ranges are badged 'Accord' but there's not an awful lot of common ground. Some engines and the platform architecture will be common but what the customer sees will be different."

The source said the UK-European range would be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September but sales would not start until March, six months after the US version goes on sale.

However, the UK-Europe models would not be as different from the Japanese-market models as is currently the case where there is only some powertrain and platform commonality.

"The differences will be in things like engines and trims and add-ons and we'll get a diesel engine option in Europe," the source said.

European cars would not have the voice-recognition satellite navigation system announced with the US Accord on Monday but would have similar touch-screen controls, the source added.

The source could not comment on body style availability but it is likely that European and UK buyers will be offered the choice of four or five doors.

However, it is not clear if the new Japanese line-up will include a replacement for the current station wagon.

'Consolidating' the Japanese and UK-Europe models into what is effectively one line with minor regional variances makes good sense for Honda which is losing money in Europe, not helped by average annual volumes of only around 30,000 cars a year for the current UK-built Accord, launched in 1998 with only minor updates for subsequent model years. The 2002 cars are still being built at the Swindon plant but the run-out is about to start.

Building both ranges in Japan will make more efficient use of the plant utislised and enable the Japan/European build mix to be more easily adjusted to meet demand from the various markets in which the cars are sold.

The source said that, once the current Accord production run ends at Swindon, the plant will enter a new phase as a key Honda 'Civic plant', assembling three and five-door Civic hatchbacks and the CR-V SUV (built on a stretched Civic platform) for sale in the UK, Europe, the US and Japan.