Honda shifts strategy as Insight hybrid fades

Honda began this month with 237 days worth of Insight supplies, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

UPDATED: 2/28/14 3:15 pm ET

Honda Motor Co. said its decision to scrap the Insight, the first hybrid marketed in the United States, is part of a revised strategy to expand its U.S. lineup of fuel-saving cars and light trucks.

Honda's 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," the company said in a statement today formally announcing the end of Insight production.

Output will end this summer, Honda said. Earlier this week, a company spokeswoman was quoted as saying production would end this month.

Honda plans 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 United States will place greater emphasis 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."

The hybrid system was launched on the 2014 Accord plug-in hybrid. The Accord hybrid is EPA-rated at 50 mpg in the city, and Honda calls it the most fuel-efficient five-passenger sedan in America.

The Insight was the first hybrid vehicle in the United States when Honda introduced it in 1999, seven months earlier than the Toyota Prius.

The Prius went on to become the best-selling dual-powered car of all time, with cumulative sales of 3.19 million vehicles as of January, according to Toyota.

Honda, by comparison, delivered a cumulative 280,629 Insights globally as of the end of last year. Of those, 157,275 were sold in Japan.

U.S. sales of the model dropped 18 percent to 4,802 last year, making it the second-worst selling car in the Honda brand lineup, behind only the CR-Z hybrid.

The Insight will be available at U.S. dealerships through year end, Honda said.

Honda began this month with 237 days worth of Insight supplies, according to the Automotive News Data Center. That's almost four times the 60-day inventory that automakers generally consider to be ideal in the United States.

Honda stopped production of the first-generation Insight in 2006, before reviving it in spring 2009. Honda has five hybrid models in its U.S. lineup, including the Accord sedan and the Fit compact car.

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