Honda Europe will drop gasoline versions of the next Jazz due in 2020 to concentrate on hybrid sales.
The Jazz will use a version of the dual motor i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) technology available in the new CR-V compact SUV, but with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine instead of a 2.0-liter unit.
The full-hybrid system uses the engine to both charge a 1 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery and power an electric generator, which then spins an electric motor connected to the wheels, giving the feeling of driving an electric vehicle.
The Jazz will include design elements from the high-tech Honda e full-electric minicar as the company tries to pitch the car to a younger audience, said Dave Hodgetts, managing director of Honda UK.
The Honda e was launched at this month's Frankfurt auto show.
Hodgetts said the design upgrade to the Jazz would help offset the added cost of the hybrid drivetrain.
“The car will be more expensive because the powertrain is more expensive, but it’s a much more premium car. It has definitely moved up in terms of value,” Hodgetts said.
The next Jazz will will look “very different” from the current car, he said.
The hybrid move is the latest push into electrification from brands selling in Europe as they try to bring down fleet CO2 emissions to the required 95 gram per kilometer by 2020-21. Failure to do so will result in fines.
Honda predicts the Jazz hybrid will have CO2 emissions close to 99g/km compared to about 118g/km for a gasoline-only version.
European sales of the Jazz fell 20 percent to 17,140 in the first half, according to JATO Dynamics market researchers. More than half the sales were in the UK, where the car is popular with retirees.
The hybrid Jazz will compete with the Toyota Yaris, which has seen sales grow since a hybrid variant was added in 2012. Nearly half of the 130,967 Yaris models sold in the first half were hybrids, according to Toyota Europe.