Hybrid vehicles are considered a risky long-term purchase by some, with unknown reliability of hybrid batteries and worries of possible replacement costs. While those fears may be exaggerated, Consumer Reports has found some damning evidence on one particular model: the Honda Civic Hybrid.
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American Honda’s lawyers are hoping to overturn the highly publicized court award to Heather Peters, who netted $9,867 after suing Honda stating that her Civic Hybrid failed to get the promised 50-mpg. As a result of her successful small claims suit, 1,700 Civic Hybrid owners have opted out of a class action settlement, presumably to take Honda to small claims court themselves.
Honda will be heading back to court on Thursday and the court will once again hear testimony from both sides in what is basically a retrial. But unlike the small claims trial, Honda has legal representation and Peters will be presenting new evidence she has discovered. Peters also renewed her law license and has already testified in the first part of the hearing with Honda’s lawyers questioning her.
The Japanese automaker is hoping the appeal will curb other Civic Hybrid owners from filing their own small claims suits similar to what Peters did successfully.
[Source: The Detroit News]
It’s amazing to think that it’s been 12 years since Honda introduced its first hybrid vehicle – the first generation Insight – to the world. Back in November 1999, the Insight was a peculiar hybrid but still boasted the world’s highest fuel economy among all gasoline-powered vehicles.
And despite Toyota clearly surpassing Honda in hybrid development (and sales), the Japanese automaker is still proud to announce that it has surpassed 800,000 hybrid vehicle sales worldwide.
Currently, Honda sells seven hybrid models in approximately 50 different countries around the world. The Acura ILX, which will launch in the North American market in spring 2012, will bring that total to eight.
Honda’s hybrid sales have increased steadily over the last couple of years. In 2005, with just the Civic Hybrid, Accord Hybrid and first-generation Insight on the market, Honda hit 100,000 units. May 2007 saw the achievement of 200,000 units, but it wasn’t until August of 2009, when the second-generation Insight came to the market, that Honda topped the 400,000 mark. In 2010, Honda introduced the CR-Z and the Fit Hybrid and by the end of the year has surpassed the 600,000 unit landmark. A year later in December of 2011, Honda was happy to have surpassed 800,000 hybrid vehicles total.
While Honda continues to be one of the biggest names in hybrid technology and sales, it’s well off the pace of Toyota which to date has sold well over three million gas-electric vehicles.
She’s had it with Honda, and Heather Peters, a former lawyer, hopes her unusual legal approach will garner as much as 10 times the cash reward and potentially serious consequences for the company if others follow her lead.
Peters, unlike the hundreds of Civic Hybrid owners who joined class action suits, decided to take Honda to small claims court over her 2006 Civic Hybrid achieving sub-par mileage. The car is said to get 50 mpg, but according to Peters, her car never came close and only managed 30 mpg as the battery wore.
Her choice seemed more attractive after finding out that people taking part in the suit would probably only receive about $200 cash and a $750 to $1000 rebate incentive to buy a new Honda. She aims to be awarded the maximum $10,000 allowed as of 2012 in California small claims court.
While taking the Japanese car giant to court might seem sort of senile, Peters is far from crazy. The first fist in her corner is that she has a legal background, so she will be able to prepare a case better than your average Honda customer. Second, California small claims court doesn’t allow lawyers, so Honda will have to keep their legal crack shots at home. Third, as Richard Cupp Jr., who teaches product liability law at Pepperdine University, told the associated press, ”the judge will have a lot of discretion and the evidentiary standards are relaxed in small claims court.”
It’s true that most people probably won’t have the time, education, or energy to take Peters’ path against Honda. If she succeeds and others choose to take similar action, she estimates that it could cost Honda as much as $2 billion. For now, she’s launched a site to promote her cause: DontSettleWithHona.org.
As for her future car plans, she is willing to trade her Civic for a comparable car with a manual transmission because it’s all she trusts anymore.
Honda is offering an extended 10-year/120,000-mile warranty to 2006-2011 Civic Hybrid owners due to a possible gas leak. And while it’s a little strange that there’s no recall for the 80,000 or so impacted vehicles, we’re pretty sure owners are going to be just fine with such a nice and lengthy warranty from Honda.
The gas leak issue is a minor one according to Honda. The potential leak is located where the fuel filler meets the tank and it appears to not be anywhere near an ignition source. Regardless, if owners smell gasoline vapors or spot a small amount of gas on the ground, they should take their vehicle in to a dealership immediately so that the gas tank can be replaced.
It’s probably not set in stone that there won’t be a recall on the matter. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t made any rulings yet in regards to this matter and are still investigating it.
10. 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE: 43/39 MPG
The Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient cars have been named for 2012 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA (those guys that come up with the official ratings for cars) has compiled the list, which is dominated by Japanese automakers. Those remaining two are domestic vehicles, although with one being a commercial van, it almost should count. On the list are electric and hybrid vehicles only, with no diesels or pure gasoline engines.
In 10th spot is the first of three Toyota models and the first of four if you count the larger Toyota company and Lexus. The Toyota Camry Hybrid LE is officially rated at 43 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. With a combined rating of 41-mpg, it’s the only true mid-size sedan to achieve an average of 40-mpg or better. And these numbers don’t come at the expense of performance either, with 200-hp on tap. Of note, XLE models, which have more content and are heavier, are rated at 40 mpg city and 38 mpg highway.
The 2012 Honda Civic bows at New York with new styling across the line, and new powertrains for Si and Hybrid models.
The regular Civic sedan and coupe make do with the same powertrain and 5-speed transmission from the last model. But if it ain’t broke, as they say, don’t fix it: the 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine gets slightly modified for a 39mpg rating, even without the direct-injection and 6 cogs like its Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra competitors.
On the other hand the Si gets torquier for 2012, with 31 more lb-ft than the outgoing model, which comes in at a less lofty 4300RPM. The 2.4-liter engine produces 200 horsepower and 170 total lb-ft of torque.
Lastly, the Civic Hybrid gets a revamp to become the 2nd most fuel-efficient sedan in production (behind the Prius) at 44mpg. The Hybrid makes this mileage jump with a new lithium-ion battery pack and a larger 1.5-liter gasoline engine to supply the magic.
Those looking to get better mileage without making the leap to a hybrid, however, can opt for the HF model—with special aerodynamic trim and Honda’s ECO Assist technology that scolds you, schoolmarm-style, into achieving 41mpg highway. There will be a natural gas version available soon as well.
Gallery: 2012 Honda Civic Lineup
Visit 9th Gen Civic for more information on the 2012 Honda Civic Lineup, at http://www.9thgencivic.com
Honda‘s previous Civic launches have seen the base models get the star-treatment right out of the gate, with performance and eco variants following later on. But this time will be different, as Honda plans to launch the regular Civic, Civic Si, Civic Hybrid and a natural gas powered Civic within weeks of each other.
The rapid launch is part of Honda’s marketing campaign based on Soichiro Honda’s phrase that there is “a Civic for everyone”. The new Civic’s introduction will be critical for Honda, as the Civic’s bread and butter car has had an exceptionally long product cycle, due to a sudden alteration of the Civic’s design after the start of the financial crisis in 2008.
For more news, discussions, pricing and pictures on the 2012 Honda Civic, please visit http://www.9thgencivic.com/
In a move that would be unthinkable to most North American consumers, Honda will stop selling its ubiquitous Civic in Japan due to non-existant demand for the iconic compact.
Japanese have been gravitating towards hybrids, ultra-compact cars and small minivans for some time now, leaving little room for the venerable Civic sedan, an extremely popular vehicle in the rest of the world. The Civic sedan has been the best selling car in Canada for a number of years, and is also extremely popular in America.
That didn’t help the fact that Honda only sold 182 Civic Sedans in Japan for the month of October (in addition to 270 Civic Hybrids), an abysmal number for such a blue-chip product. Fortunately, the Civic will still be built for export in one of Honda’s Japanese plants, and our own supply, built in a factory outside of Toronto, Canada, will be secure for the forseeable future.
In response to rumors that Honda‘s Canadian division would axe the low-selling Insight and Civic Hybrid, Honda Canada has issued a statement confirming plans to continue sales of the two models… for now.
We contacted Honda Canada and received a message from PR boss Richard Jacobs confirming the models for the future, but the “official statement” also included an important qualifying statement.
Calling the rumor just what it is, Jacobs says there is currently a six month supply of both models. “Honda Canada is planning to offer both Insight and Civic Hybrid as 2011 model-year units, and we have no plans to discontinue either model.”
That sounds quite certain, however, also included in Honda Canada’s official position is the statement that, “Honda Canada will listen to the voice of our customers and
will bring the products they want. If there is market demand for Insight
and Civic Hybrid, we will bring the appropriate supply.”
That’s less reassuring, as demand is obviously the key issue here with sales of just 748 Insight models and 643 Civic Hybrids so far this year indicating that Canadian’s are not interested in either model.
Honda may drop both the Civic Hybrid and the Insight from its lineup in Canada. According to a recent report by Monvolant, the two hybrids will be eliminated from the product plan – likely in response to dismally poor sales. This would then leave the new CR-Z as the only hybrid in Honda Canada’s lineup.
When the Insight launched over a year ago, Honda Canada projected sales of 10,000 units. But poor press, a high-dollar asking price and competition from the significantly more fuel efficient third-generation Toyota Prius may all be contributing factors to the fact that just 748 Insights have been sold so far this year. Worse still are Civic Hybrid sales, with just 643 units moved in 2010.
With such low Honda hybrid sales you’d expect the Prius to be conquesting a lot of buyers, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with just 2,272 third-gen Prius models sold in Canada so far this year. While there are no hard facts surrounding why Canadians are turning away from hybrids, possible factors include the higher price of the cars in Canada, the lack of large urbanized cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal stand out as exceptions) and the colder climate often means hybrids don’t perform up to their lofty MPG targets.
We can’t say we’re surprised about the demise of the slow-selling RL, especially after Acura recently released the TL SH-AWD model with the same engine, essentially making the RL redundant. Many blame the lack of a V8 and a true rear-drive architecture for Acura’s lack of success in the full-size luxury segment. The RL is sold as the Legend in other markets. In addition, Honda will also eliminate the Elysion minivan.
The biggest surprise, however, is that in Japan Honda will no longer offer a gasoline-powered Civic. Hybrid cars are increasingly becoming the norm in Japan, and so Honda will continue to offer the Civic in Japan, only in hybrid form.
Instead, Honda will focus on models like the Insight and other green models, as well as more entry-level cars.
This news comes via Japan’s Nikkei business paper, which also reports that the new Civic will debut in the Fall of 2011.