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Honda to end Insight hybrid production

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Green Car Reports

(Read caption) Honda reportedly will end production of its Insight hybrid, after 2013 sales were about 18 percent lower than the previous year's total. It is possible Honda might roll out a replacement vehicle based upon the automaker's Fit Hybrid platform.

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The Honda Insight hybrid is no more. That's the confirmation from Honda itself, as slow sales prompt the Japanese automaker to end production of its flagship hybrid.

According to Bloomberg, Honda informed dealers back in November that Insight production would stop this month, and asked them to stop taking orders on the model.

It brings to an end speculation that the Insight would be canned, following rumors back in November and more recently, the model's discontinuation in Europe.

It isn't clear at this time whether the Insight-based CR-Z coupe will also cease production, nor whether a successor to the Insight is being planned by Honda.

The current generation Insight debuted in 2009, filling a gap left by the first-generation Insight which finished production in 2006.

While the first-generation car set the standard for all hybrids to follow--with better gas mileage than any non plug-in vehicle before or since--the current car hasn't really shone in the marketplace.

Its 42 mpg combined rating is little more than that of some non-hybrids now on sale, and while owners find the car's EPA ratings easy to beat in real-world driving, it lags behind Toyota's Prius and the smaller, more price-comparable Prius C on efficiency.

Sales too have lagged behind the Prius. While the Insight has sold a respectable 280,629 units as of the end of 2013 (157,275 of which were sold in Japan), the Prius has sold in the millions worldwide.

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In the U.S, recent Insight sales have been particularly poor: 2013 sales were 18 percent lower than those of 2012, with just 4,802 units moved. The car's highest U.S. sales were in the 2010 calendar year, at 20,962.

Sales should continue for some time in the U.S. though, where Honda has 237 days' worth of supply of the car--compared to a typical 60-day inventory held by automakers.

If Honda does build a successor to the Insight, it's likely to use the company's more modern hybrid setup previewed in the new Fit Hybrid we tested in Japan.

The new i-DCD system pairs a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle gasoline engine with an electric motor, through a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both performance and economy beat that of the previous-generation Honda Fit Hybrid--not sold in the U.S, but sharing the Insight's drivetrain.

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