Honda to slow down on hybrids

Honda to slow down on hybrids

HONDA has revealed it is largely walking away from the hybrid technology it pioneered in Australia 15 years ago.

While Honda’s upcoming NSX supercar will continue to wave the high-tech petrol-electric hybrid flag, the carmaker says it is months away from dropping the slow-selling Accord Hybrid from its local line-up via an upcoming facelift, and has no plans to develop a hybrid version of the next-generation Civic due in mid-2016.

Honda -NSX-front -side“Hybrid still has a place and it still has a place in our line-up, and NSX will be a hybrid … but it’s not core volume,” says Honda Australia director Stephen Collins. “Globally we’re definitely not walking away from it; the reality in Australia is it’s such a small piece of the [sales] pie that we’re looking at hybrid a lot differently to what we were three or four years ago.”

Honda -NSX-top -rearCollins says there is “no current plan in this [upcoming] generation for hybrid Civic”, a car that Honda executives describe as crucial to plans to rebuild the struggling brand.

He also says the Accord Hybrid will be short-lived, set to be dropped with an imminent model update.

“The numbers are very small on Accord Hybrid and it’s a tough segment,” says Collins. “We never expected to sell huge volumes and we achieved that objective.”

Honda -NSX-interiorThe news comes as the Hyundai Ioniq (pictured below), available globally as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all electric car, gears up to tackle the Toyota Prius.

Various luxury brands – including Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz – are also boosting hybrid offerings.

Honda -Ioniq -sideThe move from Honda Australia is part of a broader plan to improve its profitability and steadily grow sales from a current base of about 40,000 a year (down from up to 60,000 – and well short of the planned 100,000 target the brand once set itself).

Honda says it was on a “spiral of negativity” over the past decade and concedes its sales slump was a result of sometimes sub-standard product – itself a result of a cut in research and development from Japan – and poor positioning from higher prices that reduced competitiveness.

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.