With the new and more fuel-efficient Honda Fit hatchback now on sale, the Japanese carmaker is slimming down its lineup a bit.
For 2015, it has eliminated three low-selling green cars: the Honda Insight hybrid subcompact, the Honda Fit EV electric car, and the very low-volume Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.
The new subcompact 2015 Fit, rated at 36 mpg combined, carries a starting price of $16,315 including delivery--which would have made the smaller 42-mpg Insight an even tougher sell at $3,000 more.
In hybrid technology, the company has refocused its efforts on a two-motor hybrid system for mid-size and larger vehicles.
The first of these is the Honda Accord Hybrid, which competes in the high-volume mid-size sedan segment against hybrid models of the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and Toyota Camry--as well as, arguably., the Toyota Prius Liftback.
Each of the three departed models met its maker for a different reason.
Insight: sales disappointment
The Honda Insight was expected to compete head-to-head with the third-generation Toyota Prius when the two 2010 models launched within weeks of each other in the spring of 2009. But it didn't work out that way.
The Insight was smaller and sportier to drive, and it carried the lowest sticker price of any hybrid sold in the U.S.
But its mild-hybrid powertrain (rated at 41 mpg combined when it launched) offered neither the 50-mpg fuel economy ratings of the 2010 Prius nor the ability to run all-electrically.
Meanwhile, even the previous-generation Fit subcompact next to it on showroom floors offered more interior space for several thousand dollars less--and a combined gas-mileage rating of 31 mpg.
While Honda hoped the Insight would become its best-selling global hybrid model, the little hatchback never came close to the company's volume projections--selling less than half the planned volume in the first year, and less in later years.
MORE DETAIL: Honda Insight Hybrid Production To End (Feb 2014)
Production of the 2014 Honda Insight ended this spring in Japan, and it won't return to the U.S. for 2015--although you may still be able to find new Insight models on dealer lots.
The Honda CR-Z two-seat hybrid sport coupe and the Honda Civic Hybrid, which use the same mild-hybrid powertrain as the Insight, will continue for 2015. The Acura ILX Hybrid, however, has also been canceled.
2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012Enlarge Photo
Fit EV: end of planned run
The Honda Fit EV also departs the Honda lineup for 2015, although it was always known that the compliance-car electric Fit would have only a three-year run, from the 2012 through 2014 model years.
Despite reports that intimated Honda was "dropping" the Fit EV because it hadn't sold well, the company always planned to lease only 1,100 Fit EVs to meet its requirement for sales of zero-emission vehicles in California.
The Fit EV will continue to be offered on a three-year lease in select markets (California and a few Northeast states) through this fall, until Honda has delivered enough of the car to meet its mandate.
It will also lease a handful of Fit EVs it has taken back before the ends of their lease terms on new two-year leases as used cars.
2009 Honda FCX ClarityEnlarge Photo
FCX Clarity: fuel-cell pioneer
Finally, the all-but-forgotten FCX Clarity makes a quiet departure from Honda's lineup.
Starting in 2008, Honda had leased a total of 45 FCXes in the U.S. through June of this year.
The FCX Clarity will be replaced in the Honda lineup with a new and higher-volume hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to be introduced sometime next year.
Honda FCEV Concept, 2013 Los Angeles Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
That model was previewed by the Honda FCEV Concept shown at last November's Los Angeles Auto Show.