Honda will roll out an all-new Civic worldwide in late 2011.
As we reported a few days ago, Honda is boosting investment in hybrid technology, based on the belief that conventional hybrid technology can provide fuel economy and CO2 benefits more cost effectively than plug-in cars or clean diesel models.
The 24/7 Wall Street writer Paul Ausick speculated, “US buyers may also see the day, sooner rather than later, when only a hybrid Civic is available.” Yet, U.S. sales of the Honda Civic Hybrid in the first half of 2010 are down by almost 75 percent. Meanwhile, in Japan, hybrids remain hot sellers. Toyota Prius has been the top-selling vehicle in Japan for the past 14 months.
The move to only sell Civic Hybrids in Japan represents the first time a conventional gas-powered vehicle would turn into a hybrid-only model. Honda currently offers the Honda Insight, and will soon introduce the Honda CR-Z coupe. Both cars were designed from the beginning as hybrid-only models.
Some industry observers believe that tighter emissions laws will require hybrids to become a widespread mainstream auto technology. In 2008, Bob Lutz, G.M.’s legendary product guru, said “Ultimately by 2020 we figure that 80 percent of vehicles will require some sort of hybridization,” because of tougher fuel-economy standards.