Honda to end Europe sales of Insight, CR-Z hybrids

Honda's European sales of the Insight hybrid fell 62% last year as buyers switched to diesels.
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LONDON -- Honda will stop selling its Insight and CR-Z gasoline-electric hybrids in Europe because of weak demand.

It's a blow to Honda, which was the first automaker to sell a mass-production hybrid in Europe when it introduced the two-seat Insight in 1999, a year ahead of Toyota's Prius.

Honda will sell off its remaining European stocks of the Insight five-door hatchback and CR-Z sports coupe, a company spokesperson told Automotive News Europe.

A check of Honda's Web sites in Europe's top markets shows that the cars are still listed in France and the UK but are not in Germany, Spain and Italy.

The hybrid variant of the Jazz subcompact will be the only model in Honda's lineup to offer the company's alternative powertrain. Honda said no decision has been made on whether Europe will get the hybrid version of the new Jazz that is due in 2015.

Since debuting its hybrids in Europe, Honda has sold a total of about 125,000, but recent sales have slumped badly. Honda sold 1,242 Insights last year, down 62 percent on the year before, while sales of the CR-Z hybrid fell 66 percent to just 695, according to figures from market researcher JATO Dynamics.

Honda said it sold about 4,500 Jazz hybrids in Europe last year compared with 7,500 the year before.

Diesels favored

"We've had seen a steady sales for our hybrids since we launched them, but recently we've seen a strong demand for low-emission diesel technology," the spokesman said.

The company addressed its diesel weakness last year by adding a new 1.6-liter engine for the Civic compact and CR-V SUV that was engineered for the European market. The Civic's new diesel has CO2 emissions of 94 grams per km compared to 96g/km for the Insight hybrid.

Honda's hybrid fortunes contrast sharply with those of Toyota, which sold 153,000 gasoline-electric variants of its Toyota- and Lexus-brand models in Europe, up from 107,000 the year before, the company said. The majority of those were hybrid versions of the Auris compact and Yaris subcompact, both of which are produced in Europe.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at nick.gibbs@btinternet.com.

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