Honda Motor Co. Ltd. says it plans to sell a 65 mile-per-gallon Civic later this year, but the car is expected to have little effect on the overall fuel-economy level of the automaker's cars.

Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., said last month the new Honda Civic Hatchback VX will have fuel economy ratings of 50 mpg in the city and 65 mpg highway.The car will replace the Civic CRX HF, which has ratings of 49 mpg and 52 mpg.

Elliott said Honda's corporate average fuel economy level would be affected little, though, mainly because "we do not project a large sales volume for this particular car based on our current experience with the Civic CRX HF."

Elliott, testifying in Washington before a Senate committee looking into fuel economy, said the CRX constituted about 1 percent of Honda's 1990 total U.S. sales of 854,879 cars.

The government has set a corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, level of 27.5 mpg for this year. The Senate is considering a bill to increase that to 40 mpg by 2001.

Currently, Honda's Civic line of cars has a CAFE between 28 mpg and 37 mpg.