Honda to end production of slow-selling Insight; commits to hybrid expansion

(March 1, 2014) Despite plans to end production of the compact hybrid Insight this summer, Honda said Friday that it is committed to a 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 U.S. sales momentum.

Keyed to the continued rollout of a new lineup of Earth Dreams Technology engines, transmissions and electro-motive technologies, the strategy will be executed over the next three to four years and will include changes to the Honda lineup of advanced technology environmental vehicles, the company said in a press release.

Honda said that although production will end in a few months, the Insight sedan will be available at Honda dealerships nationwide through the end of the year.

Honda's hybrid product direction in the U.S. will move forward with greater focus on expanded application of the innovative two-motor hybrid system. The two-motor system was introduced on the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid and powers the EPA-rated 50 mpg city Accord Hybrid, which is the most fuel-efficient rating for a 5-passenger sedan in America.

"No manufacturer has more experience with electromotive technologies than Honda and we are committed to applying our expertise to a wide range of products in the coming years," said Michael Accavitti, senior vice president of auto operations at American Honda. "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."

Honda says the second generation Insight is the most affordable mass-produced hybrid vehicle on the market with a MSRP starting at $18,7251, and an EPA fuel economy ratings of 41/44/42 city/highway/combined. It was introduced in the spring of 2009 and offered a unique blend of fuel-efficient hybrid performance, 5-door hatchback practicality, top safety ratings and a host of user-friendly features, including the first application of the Honda-exclusive ECO Assist, a sophisticated feedback system that uses an adaptive color display to indicate overall driving efficiency.

Long recognized as an affordable and practical hybrid vehicle choice for customers, the Insight was named a "Greenest Vehicle" by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for four consecutive years and a "Top Choice" by

U.S. sales of the model dropped 18 percent to 4,802 last year, making it the second-worst selling car in the Honda brand lineup, behind only the CR-Z hybrid. Honda began this month with 237 days worth of Insight supplies, according to the Automotive News Data Center. That's almost four times the 60-day inventory that automakers generally consider to be ideal in the United States.

Sources: Honda, The Automotive News