Honda to Halt Production of Insight Hybrid Vehicle

Honda Insight
A visitor sits in front of a Honda Motor Co. Insight hybrid car at the company's showroom in Tokyo. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

Honda Motor Co. will end production of its Insight model, the first hybrid vehicle introduced in the U.S., after demand plunged and sales lagged behind Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius.

Honda informed dealers in November that the current generation of the Insight will be discontinued this month and asked them to stop taking orders, Yuka Abe, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for the carmaker, said by phone today. Nothing has been decided whether there will be a future Insight, she said.

The Insight was the first hybrid vehicle in the U.S. market when Honda introduced it in 1999, seven months earlier than the Prius. The Toyota hybrid 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 the company.

By comparison, Honda delivered a cumulative 280,629 vehicles of the Insight globally as of the end of last year, of which 157,275 were sold in Japan. U.S. sales of the model plunged 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, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Honda began this month with 237 days worth of supply of the Insight, according to Automotive News Data Center, almost four times the 60-day inventory that automakers generally consider to be ideal in the U.S. market.

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

(Corrects spokeswoman’s comment to say nothing has been decided in second paragraph of story published Feb. 26.)
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