The experiment of using hybrid technology to boost performance, rather than improve fuel efficiency, backfired in the marketplace. Case in point: the Honda Accord Hybrid.
When the Accord Hybrid first came out, it was a novel idea. Take the second best-selling car in the country, offer it with as many luxury features as possible, and soup it up to make it faster than any other family sedan on the market. This approach—using hybrid technology in a bigger engine such as the Accord’s V6—caught car reviewers and hybrid fans by surprise. Aren’t hybrids supposed to be small, underpowered, econoboxes with great fuel economy?
One headline read, “Sips Gas. Hauls Ass.” Environmentalists pinned the term “muscle hybrid” on the Accord. David Welch of BusinessWeek, as if shocked, wrote, “The car bursts onto the road. Yea, this car—an environmentally friend and fuel-efficient hybrid—really did burn a little rubber.”
There’s only one problem: Sales of the Accord Hybrid ran out of gas. Sales reached 16,826 units in 2005, but as the field of hybrids expanded (to include the Camry Hybrid), customers vanished. Sales of the gas-electric Accord slid to 5,598 in 2006. In June 2007, Honda gave up the ghost, announcing that it was discontinuing the hybrid version of the Accord.