Honda Motor Co. will stop making the slow-selling Honda Insight hybrid in September and will introduce a new, more affordable hybrid to the North American market in 2009, a company spokesman said Thursday.
The Honda Insight was the first hybrid vehicle on sale in the United States in 1999, but it never achieved the popularity of the Toyota Prius, which went on sale a year later. Toyota sold 107,897 Priuses in 2005, while Honda sold 666 Insights. Still, Insight sales were up 15 percent in 2005 compared with the year before, and sales shot up another 83 percent in the first four months of this year as gas prices rose.
Honda spokesman David Iida said Honda plans to introduce a hybrid family car that is one class below the compact Honda Civic hybrid and more affordable than the Civic. The Honda Civic now starts at $14,760, while the Insight starts at $19,330.
Iida said the company is targeting U.S. and Canadian sales of 100,000 vehicles annually with the new hybrid. Honda said in 1999 it expected to sell around 5,000 Insights a year, but sales totaled just 13,374 from 1999 through March of this year.
The Insight may not be the only hybrid on Honda's chopping block. Honda Executive Vice President Dick Colliver said last month that the automaker may cut production of the Honda Accord hybrid because sales have been slow.