2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, road test, Spring 2011
While sales of the 47-mpg Honda Accord Hybrid mid-size sedan have ticked up as supply grows, the camaker's two other hybrid offerings seem to be in limbo.
The Honda Civic Hybrid, a compact four-door sedan, and the Honda CR-Z two-seat sport hatchback are still in the lineup--but their 2014 sales continued to fall.
With a hybrid system that's been superseded in Honda's home market, those models seem likely to be discontinued.
DON'T MISS: Honda Insight Hybrid Production To End (Feb 2014)
The CR-Z may not be replaced. It sold just 3,562 units last year, and neither subcompact coupes nor two-seat vehicles are growth segments in a U.S. market that buys more and more SUVs and crossover utlity vehicles.
And the Civic Hybrid, despite its laudable 44-mph combined gas mileage rating, sold just 5,070 units--of almost 326,000 Civics delivered--during all of 2014.
That compares to 13,977 Accord Hybrids--and Honda potentially lost significant sales in the early months of 2014 due to severe supply constraints that it says are now easing.
2012 Honda CR-Z
The Civic Hybrid and CR-Z are the only two cars left in Honda's lineup to use its Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild hybrid system.
Launched back in 1999 on the first-generation Honda Insight, the latest versions of IMA use a small 10- or 15-kilowatt (13- or 20-horsepower) electric motor that's not powerful enough to move the vehicle under electric power alone.
Honda ended production of its Insight subcompact five-door hybrid hatchback a year ago, and sales of remaining stock have largely wound down now. Honda sold 3,965 Insights in the U.S. last year.
ALSO SEE: Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid (Nov 2013)
The Acura ILX Hybrid model has already been withdrawn after only two years on the U.S. market as well; based on Civic underpinnings, it too used the old IMA system, and never found favor with buyers.
Now it appears that the Civic Hybrid and CR-Z are being withdrawn from other markets.
The Australian site CarAdvice notes that both vehicles have been withdrawn from that country's market, and Honda plans to focus on its Accord Hybrid instead there too.
Honda Fit Hybrid (Japanese domestic model), Honda Proving Grounds, Tochigi, Japan, Nov 2013
Also withdrawn was the Fit Hybrid, a vehicle not sold in the U.S. (known as the Jazz Hybrid in Australia).
The hybrid version of the third-generation Honda Fit uses the replacement for the IMA system.
That powertrain consisting of a 1.5-liter direct-injected engine and a seven-speed direct-shift gearbox, with a 22-kW (30-hp) electric motor sandwiched between them.
MORE: 2015 Honda Fit Hybrid: Forbidden Fruit Drive Report (Nov 2013)
The hybrid versions of the Fit/Jazz and the HR-V (known in Japan as the Vezel) make up a majority of those vehicles' home-market sales, due to heavy incentives for hybrids.
But Honda in the U.S. has clearly made the decision to focus on hybridizing not its smallest models, but mid-size sedans instead, where the gains in fuel efficiency and overall cost savings can be higher
The Honda Accord Hybrid, which this site named its Best Car To Buy for 2014, competes with hybrid versions of several other mid-size sedans: the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and Toyota Camry.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid
For the 2015 Honda Fit, meanwhile, its 1.5-liter engine and new continuously variable transmission (CVT) earn a combined rating of 36 mpg from the EPA.
For a car that small, in a category most U.S. buyers view as entry-level, the added cost of the hybrid system would likely require a price higher than most buyers would pay.
If or when the Honda CR-Z and Civic Hybrid fade from Honda's lineup, their demise will bring to an end 15 years of mild hybrids from the second automaker in the world to offer hybrid vehicles of any sort.