Honda to kill Civic hy­brid, CNG cars

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Charles Flem­ing charles.flem­

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.

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