Honda, Japan’s No. 2 automaker,will drop its Accord hybrid model after the 2007 model year. But Honda will continue to make gas-and-electric models of its Civic sedan. The decision wasn’t a surprise, as Accord hybrid sales have been tepid since it arrived in 2004. Toyota’s Prius hybrid is the market leader, with 729,800 sold since December 1997. Toyota offers several other hybrid models, including a hybrid Camry and hybrid Lexus. Honda dropped another hybrid, the two-seat Insight, in 2005.
Honda Accord Hybrid’s U.S. sales totaled just 439 last month, while Toyota sold 24,000 Prius hybrids. None the less, Honda is promising a new U.S. hybrid competitor in 2009.The Accord hybrid, sold only in North America, sold just 25,000 since going on sale in 2004. It sold just 6,100 last year.Most analysts blame the model’s failure on Honda’s decision to pair electric components with a V-6 engine instead of with a higher-mileage four-cylinder gasoline motor.
Honda spokesman Yoshiyuki Kuroda said the decision underlines how hybrids tend to be more popular with smaller models because mileage improvements tend to be more pronounced.
“The cancellation of the Honda Accord hybrid points out the fact that hybrid manufacturers have largely been unable to expand the public’s perception of hybrids beyond high fuel economy”, said Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and its kbb.com Web site.