2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, road test, Spring 2011
Honda surprised the industry when it pulled the wraps off a brand-new tenth generation of its Civic compact at April's New York Auto Show.
But two members of today's Civic lineup won't survive into the new generation: the Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Honda Civic Natural Gas.
Honda executive vice-president John Mendel revealed that both models would be discontinued in a business update briefing for media yesterday.
DON'T MISS: Honda Ends Three Green Models For 2015: Insight, Fit EV, FCX Clarity (Jul 2014)
The Civic Hybrid, first released for the 2003 model year, was the company's second hybrid-electric vehicle after the original two-seat Honda Insight of 2000.
It has been carried through three generations of Civic, and sold fairly well at times.
But the hybrid Civic was one of the last two vehicles across the Honda and Acura lineups to use the Integrated Motor Assist mild-hybrid system pioneered by that first Insight.
2002 Honda Civic hybrid
The other is the low-volume CR-Z hybrid sport coupe, which becomes the sole surviving Honda mild hybrid for the 2016 model year.
The next generation of Honda Civic will use advanced gasoline engines and other technologies to achieve higher fuel economy than ever before, he said.
"We are targeting class-leading fuel economy for Civic," Mendel said, "with EPA highway fuel economy a few ticks above 40 mpg."
He also said Honda will cancel the Civic Natural Gas model (nee Civic GL).
The elimination is due to a combination of low gasoline prices--which have eliminated the price advantage of natural gas in many markets--and a lack of interest on the part of consumers.
The Civic Natural Gas, which is assembled on the same line as other North American Civics, has sold at an annual rate of just 700 cars in recent years.
2010 Honda Civic GX natural-gas vehicle, Los Angeles, November 2010
Mendel expressed some frustration over the car's fate.
"Honda has promoted CNG for many years, but customer demand remains quite small," he said, "and there appears to be no real appetite on the part of competitors or policymakers to promoting it."
"That, plus the negligible price different, mean that consumer demand just hadn't developed as Honda hoped--and there seems little likelihood that the situation will change in coming years."
MORE: Acura Kills ILX Hybrid For 2015; Only Two Mild Hybrids Left (Jun 2014)
Mendel noted that the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid model would be eliminated as well. Available only in a handful of states, it has sold just 1,000 units in two years.
Not all the news from Honda involved ending the sale of green models, however. The company noted that the Accord mid-size sedan will be updated for 2016--and so will its hybrid version.
While there may be a temporary interruption in Accord Hybrid supplies as production of that model is moved from Ohio to Japan, the company expects more Accord Hybrids to be available than previously once production resumes.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Nov 2013
And, Mendel said, the 2016 Accord Hybrid will feature an updated version of the company's two-motor hybrid system that will deliver even higher fuel-economy ratings than the current sedan's 47 mpg combined.
He also said the updated two-motor hybrid system will be used in an additional model in future, though he declined to characterize that model in any way.
Finally, Mendel reiterated the company's plans to introduce three new dedicated green vehicles.
The company will launch a production version of its Honda FCV Concept powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, effectively a successor to the Honda FCX Clarity, of which about 60 were delivered in the U.S. over seven years.
And it will launch both a dedicated battery-electric car and a dedicated plug-in hybrid model "by 2018," though again Mendel declined to provide any further details about the vehicles--including body style(s), size, range, or site of manufacture.
Over the last two years, Honda has eliminated six separate green models. Here's hoping that the future entries are higher-volume.