Honda Motor Co.’s decision to scrap the Insight hybrid in the United States is part of a revised strategy to expand its lineup of fuel-saving cars and light trucks in the country, the Japanese carmaker said. In a statement, Honda said its efforts will be "focused on further advancing fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicle technologies that are better aligned with customer needs and that strengthen the company's U.S. sales momentum."
Insight production will end this summer, said Honda, which intends to focus on a new lineup of so-called Earth Dreams technology engines, transmissions and electromotive technologies over the next three to four years. Its hybrid product strategy in the US, meanwhile, will focus more on expanded uses of the two-motor hybrid system.
"No manufacturer has more experience with electromotive technologies than Honda and we are committed to applying our expertise to a wide range of products in the coming years," Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of auto operations at American Honda, said in the statement.
"Our hybrid vehicle strategy will focus on new models aimed at delivering the class-leading fuel economy and performance our customers' desire in segments that represent significant growth opportunities."
Honda launched the hybrid system on the 2014 Accord plug-in hybrid, which is EPA-rated at 50 mpg in the city. Honda dubs the 2014 According plug-in hybrid as the most fuel-efficient five-passenger sedan in America.
The Insight was the first hybrid vehicle in the US back in 1999. It was ahead of the Toyota Prius by seven months. While the Prius surged to become the best-selling hybrid car of all time at cumulative sales of 3.19 million vehicles as of January, the Insight only has cumulative global sales of 280,629 Insights as of the end of 2013.
Of those, 157,275 were sold in Japan. Honda saw US sales of the Insight drop 18 percent to 4,802 in 2013. With the planned production halt, the Insight will be available at dealerships through year end.