Acura Axes ILX Hybrid

Sometimes a hybrid variant is a good idea, and sometimes it isn’t as apparently evidenced by the Acura ILX Hybrid being canceled for 2015.

Sales are down 68 percent compared to 2013 with just 63 units sold in May, and so Acura has chosen to retain only the conventional 2.0- and 2.4-liter four-cylinder ILX models.

“Based on the stronger appeal of the ILX 2.0 and 2.4 models, we are streamlining the ILX lineup to better align with customer demand, Acura will no longer offer the ILX Hybrid starting with the 2015 model year,” said Acura spokesman Vince Manganiello. “Customers should still be able to buy a 2014 ILX Hybrid during the next few months as there is still currently dealer inventory.”

This year pricing for the 2.0-liter, five-speed ILX starts at $27,945, and the asking price is $30,245 for the 2.4-liter six-speed model. An automatic 2.0-liter version with the “Technology Package,” which includes navigation and an enhanced sound system, costs $32,645.

The hybrid version did better, cost more, but will be discontinued next year.

The hybrid version did better, cost more, but will be discontinued next year.

While Acura’s specific long-term strategy is unclear, its parent company Honda has said its aim is to score highly in retail sales, and introduce hybrid models as opportunities arise to its conservative market planners.

It’s not making any overt push to rush ahead of Toyota and Toyota’s luxury division Lexus in the hybrid variant game, although Honda – and thus Acura – now possess potentially more capable hybrid technology ready to be inserted in any of its vehicles.

Toyota is in process of hybridizing its entire line-up, and has long-since owned more spots in the U.S. market top-10, in part by selling more to commercial fleets, and in part also because its comparative fuel economy and market perception are more competitive.

The Acura ILX Hybrid’s 38 mpg combined is a healthy increase over 25-28 mpg for the non-hybrids, but Honda has in Japan a 1-motor full hybrid system that is superior to its Integrated Motor Assist as used in present Civics and the ILX, and could push U.S. cars’ EPA scores higher.

In Japan, the 1-motor hybrid system in the Fit Hybrid achieves better mpg and lower CO2 than does the Toyoya Prius c – known there as the Aqua.

It would appear the ILX hybrid can be counted down for now, but not forever out, and the timing is up to Honda if it wishes to introduce a far more effective hybrid version to its entry level Acura line later.