Honda Drops Accord Hybrid

Date: June 7, 2007 – San Jose Mercury News

Honda is dropping the hybrid version of the Honda Accord. Honda’s decision to place a hybrid system in the V-6 version of the Accord, rather than the more fuel-efficient four-cylinder vehicle, was a critical error. That decision—to use hybridization to offer greater performance rather than maximum fuel efficiency—came during the early days of the hybrid market. Honda took one on the chin for the entire hybrid market, learning a bitter lesson that hybrid buyers want fuel efficiency in a gas-electric vehicle.

The removal of the Accord Hybrid from the market follows Honda’s decision last year to discontinue the Honda Insight, the first hybrid to enter the market. While the Honda Insight was the reigning fuel efficiency king for six years, the two-seat teardrop designed vehicle was not practical for many car buyers. Unlike the Toyota Prius, a runaway hit because it strikes the right balance between practicality, adequate performance and superior fuel efficiency, Honda erred with the Accord Hybrid by falling below hybrid-level fuel economy levels and with the Insight because of impracticality.

As reported in the San Jose Mercury News:

The decision wasn’t a surprise, as sales of the Accord hybrid have been tepid since it arrived in 2004. Most analysts blame the model’s failure on Honda’s decision to pair electric components with a V-6 engine instead of with a higher-mileage four-cylinder gasoline motor.

In the United States, Honda dealers sold just 5,598 Accord hybrids last year, and just 439 last month. Rival Toyota sold 24,009 Prius hybrids in May, the car’s best sales month in history, and 106,971 in 2006.

"The cancellation of the Honda Accord hybrid points out the fact that hybrid manufacturers have largely been unable to expand the public’s perception of hybrids beyond high fuel economy," said Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and its kbb.com Web site.

Mr. Nerad states the obvious point somehow missed by Honda with the Accord. The public expects hybrids to have high fuel economy. Honda learned that lesson the hard way. It remains to be seen if other carmakers will benefit from Honda’s mistakes.

To Honda’s credit, the company has apparently learned from its own miscalculations. The company will offer a new, smaller dedicated hybrid car—about the size of the Fit, but not based on that model—within two years. With the release of the yet-to-be-named new Honda hybrid, the company is likely to regain its position as producer of the most fuel-efficient vehicle available in the U.S. market.

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  • Gerald F. Shields

    I couldn’t have said it better. When it comes to hybrids, fuel economy matters.

  • HYBRIDS WILL RETURN WITH A VEN

    Hybrids should rule the land. I luv the style and benefits of hbrids. The environment is important so it is crucial to make wise decisions.

  • domboy

    What this article isn’t saying (it only vaguely hinted at it near the end) is that instead of the hybrid option, the Accord is going to be getting a diesel option instead, which should provide better fuel economy as well as performance compared to the current hybrid option. See these links for more info:

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/06/03/no-hybrid-for-the-new-2008-honda-accord-diesel-in-2009/
    http://www.autoblog.com/2007/06/04/honda-accord-says-no-to-hybrid-yes-to-diesel/

    What I think is funny is that this article makes it sound like the Accord is the only performance hybrid on the market… what about the Highlander hybrid and the Lexus hybrids? Granted, they may target a different type of buyer, but still, they don’t really fit the bill of “hybrid buyers want fuel efficiency in a gas-electric vehicle” either.

  • R,J,T. Georgia, U.S.A.

    My Honda Civic Hybrid gets 53.3 mpg – overall.
    Why can’t Honda build a 4 cylinder Accord Hybrid with comparable gas mileaage???

    WHAT’S THE PROBLEM???

  • jc in seattle

    yes, and what about a 4cylinder accord hybrid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    if they sell it for 500 bucks below the camry hybrid, they’ll be moving like hot-cakes on a sunday morning!

  • Jeff

    By Jay Leno
    Photographs by John Lamm

    All the current interest in hybrids and other vehicles with some sort of alternative powertrain is kind of amusing to me. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for pursuing other ways to power cars. But I smile because I’ve owned three alternative energy cars for years. The newest was built in 1925; the oldest, 1909. Each one is a rolling manifestation of a brilliant idea. Sadly, they were all way ahead of their time and all three makes failed.

    My Baker Electric dates back nearly 100 years — and it’s a late model. By then, the company had been selling electrics for more than a decade. Unlike other early cars, the Baker Electric needed no cranking, had no gasoline smell and was essentially maintenance-free. Not surprisingly, it was marketed to women. The interior of my Baker is rather froufrou, complete with a little makeup kit. Even though it’s almost a century old, the car drives totally silently — like any modern electric vehicle. In fact, when I take it up into the hills, I have to be extra careful of deer. They usually just stand there and look in the windows, which makes the Baker my wife Mavis’s favorite car.

    I also own what can be con¬sidered an ancestor of today’s hybrids, an Owen Magnetic. First seen at the auto show in New York City in 1915 — just about the time that Baker Electric gave it up — the Owen Magnetic has a gas engine and an electric generator.

    This drivetrain was the brainchild of George Westinghouse. The engine powers the generator, which creates a large magnetic force field be-tween the engine and drivewheels. There’s no mechanical transmission. The driver moves a rheostat through four quadrants — a lot easier than shifting, and grinding, the straight-cut gears of the day — and the car moves ahead progressively, giving occupants that odd feeling you get when you try to push similar-pole magnets against each other. Both Enrico Caruso and John McCormack drove Owen Magnetics.

    Owens were expensive and really sophisticated. They had an advanced, 24-volt electrical system when most cars had only 6 volts. And Owen Magnetics had a black box called “the brain.” There’s a big warning label right on it that reads, “Do not attempt to fix this or alter it. Only the factory can do this.” Of course, the factories were located in Cleveland and Wilkes-Barre, Pa. That was a big help. And so the Owen Magnetic failed in 1921.

    My newest alternative fuel car is a 1925 Doble steamer. When it was built, it seemed that Abner Doble had solved all the problems that plagued steam cars of the day. Before the Doble, you had to be part engineer, part plumber to drive a steamer. First, the boiler had to be lit off with a blowtorch; then it took time — and more time — for the steam to build up enough pressure to do anything.

    When he was only 19, Doble surprised the Stanley brothers, of Stanley Steamer fame, by inventing a modern condenser for his first steam car. The car uses 525 ft. of steel coil (the height of a 50-story office building) and one spark plug. Turn the key and an electric motor forces air up through a venturi, then through a carburetor, which throws gasoline in the middle of the huge coil, and the spark ignites it. The real genius is that in the bottom of the boiler there’s a metal tray with a row of quartz rods. As heat increases, the tray expands, pushing the rods forward and shutting off the burner. As everything cools, the quartz rods contract and the burner cycles on again. It’s dead reliable. Thanks to the Doble’s astronomical torque, something like 1000 lb.-ft., there’s no need for a clutch or transmission, and the car can go nearly 100 mph. And — get this — my Doble even meets today’s emissions standards. Because it’s a closed system, with 2 million BTU, combustion is complete: It burns everything.
    + Click to enlarge

    Dealing with the original alkaline batteries in the Baker Electric — as invented by Edison — doesn’t require an engineering degree. But then again, replacements aren’t readily available.
    But every car was really a proto¬type. Abner Doble would turn one out, and his investors and board of directors would say, “This is great, Abner; it’s perfect.” But he would always want to change something. So in 1931, in the midst of the Depression, Doble went out of business.

    People ask me what I think is the future of the automobile. Well, let’s see what’s out there. Hybrids are interesting because they make their own electricity and use it at the point of generation. But a hybrid has to carry two drive systems, which adds weight and complexity and seems counter to the whole purpose.

    I’m not too bullish on electric cars as the way of the future. Modern electric cars go roughly 100 miles on a charge, about the same as my Baker; so I don’t see much progress there. I think electricity is a great power source for a car. But the problem is, how do you get it?

    Thomas Edison invented the alkaline battery. My Baker still has some original alkaline batteries. These have lead plates and use acid; we wash them out and refill them regularly and I’ll use them indefinitely. But even Edison realized the future of the automobile was elsewhere. Legend has it that back in 1896, at a dinner party, he passed a note to his friend Henry Ford. Essentially it said, “The electric car is dead.”

    How prophetic was that?

  • Bob the Builder

    When I discovered that the hybrid system in the Accord does not improve fuel economy any more then just 1 MPG, I realized why I see them just about as often as a Bentley. I knew that they would soon discontinue it. I you want a happy medium, look at the Lexus RX 400h. It performs like a V8 SUV but actually can acheive 30 MPG city.

  • Jerry

    The Market place is speaking and I am amazed that Honda presented the v-6 hybrid. Very GMish of them. Unfortunaley it lost some time for those of us that do believe these cars make sense.

  • Diane

    I’m still looking to own an Accord Hybrid by Christmas. I want both the fuel economy and the horsepower. Guess…I’ll never be in fashion. ;)
    Better advertising ladies and gents that’s all you need. Advertise…you never advertise..why pray tell?

  • Aaron

    These so called performance hybrids are what hybrid haters like to use to point out how bad hybrids are for value. With this crap gone (I hope the lexus V-8 hybrid dies as well), that just means one less thing that hybrid haters can use for their biased “research.”

    Hybrids=Fuel Efficiency, not ungodly performance

  • Stewie

    From what I understand, Honda could not fit their IMA w/ a 4 cylinder engine (row of 4 cylinders is longer than 2 rows of 3 cylinders) so they did what they could. If true, that @ least explains why they did what they did.

    I was hoping for a 4 cylinder model w/ the next generation due out this fall but Honda has stated many times that their hybrid systems are better for smaller vehicles whereas their new diesel engines are better for larger.

    I hope this clean burning diesel engine works out for them bc they cannot afford another misstep.

    Is Acura ever gonna get a hybrid or diesel???

  • Rod

    Didn’t buy one because, unlike the regular Accord, the back seat does not fold down. Ditto the Civic Hybrid. Owned an Insight, and if I could buy a new one today, as a Prius owner, I would buy the Insight. Best car Honda ever produced. If they had concentrated on the Insight, and not gone down the wrong track and produced an Accord Hybrid, they would have been closer to the right track. Don’t believe me? Try to find a used Insight.
    There may be three or four on Ebay with 100,000 or more miles, but people hold on to them. Mine would go 90 mph, had a solid cage to surround me, and got 65 mph when driven properly…with air conditioning and automatic, and it felt like an airplane at 70 mph. Great car.

  • Rod

    That typo should have been 65 mpg, or course, in my above comment. And, I should tell all the people who think that car was a toy, that I had it at 95 mph! It was so slick in the air, that it felt really stable.
    My other car is a Corvette, so I
    understand stability.

  • Bruce

    We love ours, get at or better than the mileage of the regular 4-cylinder with performance better than the regular V6, we find it is a great travel option and complements our Civic Hybrid nicely

  • Tom

    No apologies here – I love the performance of my Accord hybrid.

    Some of you are missing a salient point. The “mistake” Honda made here is in estimating the size of market for this type car, not proof of concept. For those who want this kind of performance in this size of car, it is (was) a perfect choice.

    For me, the Prius is just too small. And while I would have certainly tested a 4-cylinder Accord, it could not have given the same performce I get now.

    I’ll take my 35 MPG highway, thank you, and be on my way. Different strokes . . .

  • jorge

    I’ve just purchased an Accord hybrid. I have been a BMW, Volvo driver for the past twelve years or so. I driven in Europe autobahns at high speeds and have vast experience with cars. I also drove a civic hybrid for three years. I am looking forward to enjoy this woenderful car. Good gas mileage, the luxury of many over priced cars, power, excellent responsivess and over all comfort. I wonder how many people will regret not owning one. “I’m loving it”

  • Rachel

    I own a 2006 Accord Hybrid, and I love it. It drives beautifully, is whisper quiet, gets great mileage (albeit not as high as some dinky little hybrids), and has all the luxury features at a non-luxury price. I’ll be sad to see it go. I guess I’m one of the few who bought the Accord Hybrid specifically because it does combine performance with fuel efficiency, and it’s still an ULEV. Still, I’m sure Honda has something good up their sleeve…

  • Rocco

    All hybrids have electric motors. So why don’t they have plug-in capability?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F
    Even if another battery needs to be added, there is no good logical reason why these cars can’t be plugged in. There are only powerful men that stand in the way.

  • A. Rivera

    I can not complain about my 05′ Accord Hybrid. Gives me 25-28 MPG in the city and 35-37 MPG in the highway, thus providing the V6 & electric overdrive power when needed.

  • Pamela

    Now that gasoline is at an all time high and people are clammering for hybrids, is Honda going to start making these again? I have a 1999 v6 accord and will be purchasing a new car next year passing this one on to my son. I wanted to get another Honda accord and the Hybrid V6 would be right up my alley!!!