[UPDATE: Honda Canada later clarified to Autoblog Green that it was not removing the cars from sale, but merely selling down available stocks, and that it would order more units from Japan when and if customer sales actually depleted its supplies of either model.]
As early as last year's U.S. sales figures for green cars, it was apparent that the 2010 Honda Insight wasn't doing well. The "cheapest hybrid" sold just 20,000 copies, and Honda's other hybrid, the 2010 Civic Hybrid, fell by several thousand as well.
Now the repurcusions are being felt. A reader tipped off our comrades at Autoblog Green that both cars were close to being pulled from the Canadian market due to equally low sales.
Thus far Honda Canada hasn't responded, but it appears that just 643 of the 31,604 Civics sold there last year were hybrids. The Honda Canada website, in fact, lists the 2009 Civic Hybrid as the current model--perhaps indicating a backlog of unsold hybrids.
2010 Honda Civic Hybrid
2011 Honda CR-Z
Added to that are not even 1,000 Insights: just 748, in fact, for a combined total of fewer than 1,400 hybrids for the year. (At least the Insight does still have a current model-year page.)
Those may not be sales numbers worth homologating for, and so pulling the slow-selling models might make sense. At the moment, says the French-language site MonVolant, the cars have been given a stay of execution, but customers must special-order them--and no more are being imported.
While the slow slaes are perplexing, given that gasoline is pricier north of the border, it's worth noting that Canada's long cold winters don't bring out the best in hybrids. Cold weather cuts overall gas mileage in hybrids, since the engines stay on longer before the battery pack warms up.
Given Honda's recent problems with battery-pack life in some Civic Hybrid models, perhaps a valiant retreat is the best of a bad set of options.
At least Canadian buyers are still being offered the little 2011 Honda CR-Z two-seat hybrid sports coupe. At least, that appears to be the plan. At the moment.