After poor sales worldwide, it is confirmed that the Honda Insight will be axed almost immediately, with production in Japan coming to a close at the end of the month.
The news came after several months of speculation – the company reportedly informed US dealers as early as November that the five-door hybrid would be canned this month and told them to stop taking orders for the car. More recently, Honda ended European sales of the Insight as well as the sportier CR-Z sister last week.
The original Honda Insight made headlines in 1999 by being the first hybrid to go on sale in the US, beating the Toyota Prius by seven months. However, the impracticality of the three-door body and odd looks meant that it never reached the sales heights of its competitor.
Honda then followed a completely different route with the successor – switching to a Prius-aping five-door bodystyle and slashing prices to undercut even the Prius c (in the US at least) – but even then sales still trailed the Toyota, hampered by poor performance and fuel efficiency.
Cumulative global sales of the Prius up to the end of last year stood at 3.19 million units, outstripping the Insight (at 280,629 units) by more than ten to one. Last year, Honda sold just 4,802 Insights in the US and 1,242 in Europe. This makes the car the second worst-selling Honda model in both markets, beaten only by the CR-Z.
As of now it is unclear whether there will be a successor to the current car, which if produced would almost certainly be using the Earth Dreams powertrain of the new Fit/Jazz Hybrid. Also unclear is the fate of the CR-Z, given that it shares the Insight’s platform, basic hybrid technology and production line, but it is understood that production is set to continue in the meantime.