Honda Flips the Kill Switch on America’s First Hybrid

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Not long ago, we ran an article discussing the likelihood of Honda (NYSE:HMC) putting an end to its Insight hybrid after the company announced that it would be doing so in Europe. Sure enough, Honda has officially declared the end of its Prius-challenging compact, as it is being discontinued after this month. The dealers were notified in November, Bloomberg reports.

Its release in 1999 made the Insight the first hybrid to hit the U.S. market, but opting for a simpler and less-efficient hybrid system ultimately gave the edge to the more efficient and comparably priced Toyota (NYSE:TM) Prius. The rest is history, as the Prius continues to be the best-selling hybrid model on the market.

Cumulatively, the Prius name has sold 3.19 million vehicles globally through January; Honda moved 280,629 Insight vehicles of as of the end of last year, of which 157,275 were sold in Japan. At the beginning of this month, Honda dealers were struggling with a 237-day supply of the car, well above the 60-day average the industry finds to be preferable.

It’s unclear if a new model will replace the Insight or if the CR-Z — which has also been shuttered in Europe — will also see its end, as well. It does leave room to wonder, though, if America will be getting the new version of Honda’s Fit Hybrid, which is already on sale in Japan and has been greeted quite warmly.

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The Fit Hybrid is more efficient than the outgoing Insight thanks to a new i-DCD system that mates a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle gasoline engine with an electric motor via a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While the Insight managed just 42 miles per gallon combined — definitely uu2 %2mrlthe end for hybrids these days — the Fit Hybrid is expected to be far more economical when it comes to fuel.

The Fit Hybrid, hlthver, would be more uu2par with Toyota’s Prius c compact, which leaves room in Honda’s stable for a new flagship hybrid vehicle that runs uu2underpinnings shared with Honda’s 50 mile per gallon-plus Accord Hybrid. Time will tell, but we don’t foresee the CR-Z putting uu2 %ose shoes.

Ou2 %2msubject of the latter, the dropping of the CR-Z would leave the Accord as Honda’s only U.S.-spec hybrid, should the move happen. Though it’s had trouble living up to its mixed identity, we feel it deserves another go — the potential is certainly there.

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