The Honda Insight and Honda CR-Z hybrids could be axed in Europe before the next-generation models arrive, due to slow sales.
Although the updated Honda hybrids would still be sold in America and Japan, a company source said low volumes in shrinking markets like Spain and Italy meant the petrol-electric models were unlikely to reappear on this side of the Atlantic.
The current Honda Insight is powered by a 1.3-litre petrol engine, which is then boosted by an electric motor to improve power and emissions. In its cleanest form, it returns claimed average fuel economy of 68.9mpg and emits 96g/km of CO2 – some way behind the Toyota Prius, which claims 72.4mpg and emits 89g/km of CO2.
Although the latest Honda CR-Z breaks new ground by blending a hybrid drivetrain with a manual gearbox, for a sportier drive, it’s never quite struck a chord with buyers. The CR-Z doesn’t actually drive that well, while its claimed economy of 56.5mpg and 116g/km CO2 emissions mean the compromises required to run one just don’t add up.
However, the new Honda NSX supercar and new hybrid Honda Jazz won’t be affected, as the company says the proposed cuts to the range would be on a model-by-model basis.
When it arrives in 2015, the Honda NSX is expected to use a new direct-injection V6 petrol engine boosted by three electric motors – two on the front axle, and one built into the dual-clutch gearbox. Honda is aiming for a power output of more than 400bhp.
Meanwhile the all-new Honda Jazz hybrid will feature 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor that give a combined 133bhp. The old CVT is switched for a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and economy figures should be around 85mpg and 85g/km of CO2. It arrives in spring 2014.