With the last generation of Honda Civic, Honda dropped the hybrid variant in the U.S. in favor of reviving the Insight. And that Insight was mostly a restyled Civic sedan with only a hybrid engine. For the new, eleventh generation Civic, Honda has once again added a hybrid to the nameplate, at least in Europe. And it raises a lot of questions about Honda’s entry-level hybrid plans for the U.S.
Its official name is the Honda Civic e:HEV, and it’s basically the same as a regular Civic hatchback inside and out. The difference is under the hood where it features a familiar 2.0-liter hybrid four-cylinder engine with Honda’s dual-motor electric CVT system. Just like its implementation in the CR-V Hybrid and Accord Hybrid, the Civic e:HEV makes 181 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque, or, as Honda likes to put it, 212 combined system horsepower. Honda says it’s targeting 47 mpg in the European WLTP test. That seems quite feasible, since the bigger Accord Hybrid can achieve that same number on EPA testing.
The fact that this hybrid Civic uses both a platform and a powertrain that are available separately in the U.S. has us thinking there’s a good chance it could be made available, here. However, when asked to comment, a Honda representative simply said the company hasn’t made any announcements regarding the Civic e:HEV for America. So maybe it will, maybe it won’t.
The Civic e:HEV also raises questions about the Insight. Will Honda choose to update the Insight on the new Civic platform with this new powertrain, or will it drop the Insight in favor of the Civic? Regardless, it would seem this new platform and powertrain combination would supercede the current Insight, which has a smaller 1.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder making a combined 151 horsepower. We also asked the Honda representative about what this could mean for Insight, and she said, “Insight does well for us in that segment here in the U.S.”
We looked at the numbers, and Honda sold 19,431 Insights last year. Excluding the discontinued and soon-to-be discontinued models of the Fit, CR-Z and Clarity, the Insight was the lowest-selling car for Honda. It also came up short of the 59,010 Toyota Prius units moved last year. The Civic, meanwhile, remained Honda’s second-best selling model after the CR-V with more than 260,000 units sold. That doesn’t guarantee a Civic Hybrid specifically would sell more, but we could see Honda simplifying its lineup and manufacturing by dropping the Insight for a Civic version.