Honda to kill Civic hybrid, CNG cars
Citing soft sales, Honda will discontinue production of its Civic hybrid and compressed natural gas models, the company said Monday, and will instead begin producing 10th-generation Civics with more efficient gasoline engines.
The two alternative-fuel vehicles are victim of lower gas prices and consumer indifference, executives said.
“Traditional hybrids are struggling,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of Honda’s automotive division. “Even the Goliath — the Toyota Prius — is struggling.”
The car company will continue production of an Accord hybrid, Mendel said, but the manufacturing of that vehicle will move from the U.S. to Japan.
Although a new Accord hybrid will debut for 2016, there will be no plug-in version of that vehicle until 2018.
Honda remains committed to alternative-fuel vehicles, Mendel said, asserting that the company will go forward with a planned hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2016. Honda will also offer “an entirely new generation” of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles after 2016.
The death of the Civic hybrid and compressed natural gas versions are an acknowledgment of public disinterest in the alternative technologies, one analyst said.
“This reflects zero interest from American consumers in small, fuel-efficient cars — especially more expensive hybrid versions of small, fuel-efficient cars,” Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book said. “This is in keeping with where the market is going.”
The new Civics will feature a 1.5-liter, dual-motor version that will include Honda’s first-ever turbocharged engine, which the company promises will produce “a few ticks above 40 miles per gallon.”
Honda sold 325,981 units of the Civic last year, enough to make it the fifth most-popular passenger car in the country in 2014.