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Honda to end production of the Insight hybrid, commits to the expansion of hybrid offerings in the US

Annual sales of the second-generation Honda Insight. Data: Honda. Click to enlarge.

Honda announced that while the US model Insight will be available at dealerships in the US through the end of the year, production of the hybrid will end in summer 2014.

Honda said the move reflects its reinforced commitment to a clear product strategy focused on further advancing fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicle technologies that are better aligned with customer needs and that strengthen the company’s US sales momentum. The Insight, introduced in 2009, had posted steadily decreasing sales, from a high of 20,962 units in 2010 down to 4,802 units in 2013.

Honda and Toyota were both early entrants into the hybrid market in the US: Honda with the first-generation Insight in March 2009 1999, followed by Toyota with the first-generation Prius. However, Honda hybrid sales have not achieved the traction in the US market that Toyota did.

In 2013, Toyota’s hybrid sales (12 models between the Toyota and Lexus brands), sold almost 345,000 units, representing about 15% of total Toyota sales in the US. By contrast, Honda sold about 23,000 hybrids across the Honda and Acura brands in the US in 2013, representing about 1.5% of total Honda sales in the US for that year. Ford, the other automaker with the most longevity in the US hybrid market, sold almost 103,000 hybrids in 2013, representing about 4.1% of total sales.

The second generation Insight features an MSRP starting at $18,725, and EPA fuel economy ratings of 41/44/42 mpg US city/highway/combined (5.7, 5.3 and 5.6 l/100 km, respectively).

Honda’s larger product strategy, which will be executed over the next three to four years, includes advancing its Earth Dreams Technology engines, transmissions and electro-motive technologies, including the two-motor hybrid system featured in the Accord hybrid and plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.) Honda said that its hybrid product direction in the US will move forward with greater focus on expanded application of the two-motor hybrid system.

Our hybrid vehicle strategy will focus on new models aimed at delivering the class-leading fuel economy and performance our customers’ desire in segments that represent significant growth opportunities.

—Michael Accavitti, senior vice president of auto operations at American Honda



I never understood how a 13 hp electric motor was to be sufficient.


I am not surprised at all. With one exception – Toyota Prius (as you all know) – hybrid cars have not been a commercial success. At the high price compared to conventional cars, hybrids only attract a few enthusiasts. If these customers decide for the better option, i.e. Prius, no sales remain the result for the others. Sadly, this will also be the likely outcome for EVs. In a not so distant future, model after model will be dropped and only a few will remain, i.e. a sufficient supply for the enthusiasts. Cost is the big issue for EVs and as long as battery cost and performance cannot be drastically improved, there is no opportunity for a breakthrough on the market. In contrast, I still think there is a future for the electric hybrids, provided that the cost penalty can be overcome and that the advantage in fuel consumption over conventional cars can be retained.

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