In the early hybrid years, Honda was viewed as the leader. But in recent years, Honda has idled while Toyota ruled the market. Perhaps Honda’s biggest misstep was the Accord Hybrid, the gas-electric sedan that started the trend of trying to combine high-performance sportiness with fuel parsimony. The U.S. market didn’t respond to that combination.
With a new hybrid-specific nameplate scheduled for 2009, Honda is back to the drawing board – and used the 2007 Geneva motor show to unveil a small hybrid sports concept.
The new concept, designed by Honda R&D in Offenbach, Germany, looks like an attempt to morph the retired Honda Insight into something sporty. A hybrid version of Honda’s subcompact Fit would have made sense, but after seeing lackluster sales of hybridized versions of the Accord and Civic, Honda is aiming for a gas-electric car that does not have a conventional counterpart.
Key questions remain: If using hybrid technology to make the Accord the fastest family sedan on the market didn’t produce a winner, why would a hybrid faux sports car capture the market? Will raised wheel arches, arrow-like noses, and raked windscreens make all the much difference to consumers looking for maximum mpg?