Honda sold less than 500 hybrid cars in Australia last year, and two of the strongest sellers from that mediocre number are being discontinued soon. Despite that bleak outlook, the Japanese manufacturer remains buoyant about the possibility of hybrid technology, although its local boss says more efficient petrol and diesel cars are taking centre stage for the time being.
Talking to CarAdvice, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said that breaking into the hybrid market was tough. “As an organisation globally and locally we’re still committed to hybrids, but I think that market is still very much in its infancy, and our focus probably in the last 12 months or so has been more on our core models than our hybrids.
“Our strategy locally has been very much petrol engines, they are very much the core of our business. We’ve introduced diesel, and also hybrid is supplementing that, but yeah, it’s hard work,” Collins told CarAdvice. Honda's two top-selling hybrid cars of 2013, the Insight and the Jazz, are on their way out: the Insight has already been discontinued and the Jazz Hybrid has a nine-month hiatus before a 2015 replacement is unveiled.
With those two cars gone, Honda is left with the Civic Hybrid, of which it has sold less than 10 so far this year, and the CR-Z. It has the barnstorming NSX remake on the horizon, with a triple electric motor lineup alongside a rear-mounted petrol V6, but for the time being, it looks like Toyota is still the go-to hybrid maker with its market-leading Camry Hybrid and Prius.
Honda is one of eight major Japanese car makers collaborating to improve petrol and diesel engine efficiency, so it clearly thinks that internal combustion engines have plenty of life in them yet -- and that means it isn't rushing to sell hybrid and electric-only tech to customers. [CarAdvice]