Several of Honda’s fuel-sipping models are going away.
“We plan to discontinue production of the CNG [compressed natural gas] Civic and hybrid,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda while speaking at a media briefing in Detroit. This move will “allow greater focus on [the] Civic’s sporty new character” he said.
The company’s Accord plug-in is another casualty as they continue development of a brand-new dedicated electric model. The redesigned hybrid version of this immensely popular midsize sedan is set to debut early next year. It will feature a new two-motor drivetrain, which should make it even more economical.
By tidying up its product range Honda is setting the stage for its next salvo of environmentally responsible products. A fuel-cell vehicle is set to debut shortly; they’re also working on a plug-in hybrid and even a battery-electric model.
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One look at the sales numbers and it’s easy to see why Honda is making these tough decisions. The company has been a pioneer in the CNG field but the public hasn’t responded. Mendel said, “We’ve been producing those since ’98,” but total deliveries of CNG Civics in nearly 20 years totaled just “16,000 and change” he said.
“With any type of inconvenience customers aren’t willing to compromise,” said Mendel. Over the years the price of natural gas rose to parity with gasoline and fueling these vehicles is not easy. “The infrastructure, while it improves, just wasn’t as convenient as petrol.”
Despite the discontinuation of these thrifty models Mendel said the company will remain a leader when it comes to efficiency. Providing an example of this he said, “Civic [is] expected to claim best-in-class-fuel economy … a few ticks more than 40 miles per gallon.” The hotly anticipated 10th generation of this popular compact car “will begin to come to market this fall,” with the high-performance Type R gestating a little longer. Mendel said it will launch “probably the year after next.”
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