Rumors began circulating back in February, and now they've been confirmed by the automaker: America's first hybrid, the Honda Insight, is dead.
It's not like we didn't see it coming. Compared to its closest rival, the Toyota Prius, the Insight's sales stats have been deeply underwhelming. Last year, Toyota sold more than three million Prius vehicles worldwide. During those same 12 months, Honda sold 280,629 units of the Insight, less than 5,000 of which were bought in the U.S. Dealers quietly stopped taking orders for the Insight in November.
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The only Honda model that performed worse than the Insight in 2013 was the CR-Z Hybrid, but oddly, Honda's keeping that one around -- for now, anyway.
Also making a French exit for 2015: the Honda Fit EV. That's not much of a surprise, either, since we'd always judged it to be a "compliance car" (that is, an electric vehicle produced solely to keep an automaker in compliance with California's zero-emission regulations). If you really, truly want one, you have until fall to find one and sign a three-year lease.
For what it's worth, the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle and the Ridgeline will also bow out for 2015, but they'll return shortly, in one form or another. Their successors are due in showrooms within the next two years.
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The Insight has disappeared before, but this time, we're not so sure it's going to make a comeback. Honda has several other hybrids in its lineup that -- unlike the Insight -- have captured the public's imagination, like the Accord Hybrid, Accord Plug-in Hybrid, Civic Hybrid. (The CR-Z? Not so much.)
The Fit EV, on the other hand, stands a chance of bouncing back. The base-model Fit is a strong seller, and electric vehicles are poised to gain significant ground in the coming years. Add those two facts together, and we'd expect to see the Fit EV (or a very close sibling) roll onto sales floors before long.
(c) 2014, High Gear Media.