Honda to kill its Civic hybrid and CNG models

Civics will come with new, small-displacement turbocharged engines that will get 40+ mpg

Honda will discontinue production of its Civic hybrid and compressed natural gas or CNG models, the company said Monday, and will instead begin producing Civics with more efficient gas engines.

The two alternative-fuel vehicles are victim of lower gas prices and consumer indifference, company officers said.

"Traditional hybrids are struggling," said John Mendel, executive vice president of Honda's automotive division. "Even the Goliath — the Toyota Prius — is struggling."

The car company will continue production of an Accord hybrid, Mendel said, but the manufacturing of that vehicle will move from the U.S. to Japan.

While a new Accord hybrid will debut for 2016, there will be no plug-in version of that vehicle until 2018.

Honda remains committed to alternative-fuel vehicles, Mendel said, affirming the company will go forward with a planned hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2016. Honda will also offer "an entirely new generation" of all-new battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles after 2016.

The death of the Civic hybrid and CNG are an acknowledgment of public disinterest in the alternative technologies, one analyst said.

"This reflects zero interest from American consumers in small, fuel-efficient cars — especially more expensive hybrid versions of small, fuel-efficient cars," said Karl Brauer, of Kelley Blue Book. "This is in keeping with where the market is going, away from hybrids and toward smaller, more efficient internal combustion engines."

The new Civics will feature a dual-motor version that will include Honda's first-ever turbocharged engine, which the company promises will produce "a few ticks above 40 miles per gallon."

The Civic is a popular model for Honda, which sold 325,981 units of the small passenger car last year, enough to make it the fifth most-popular passenger car in the country in 2014.

But alternative-fuel vehicles have not proved bestsellers for Honda.

The gas-powered Accord recently replaced the Toyota Prius as the bestselling car in California, but according to Honda, the company last year sold only 5,723 Accord hybrids, and only 152 of the plug-in version.

Toyota, which will soon launch a brand-new 2016 Prius, sold 71,210 of its hybrids last year.

Twitter: @misterfleming

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