- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2007

TOKYO (AP) — Honda will discontinue the hybrid version of its Accord sedans, the company said yesterday, ceding Toyota’s dominance of the market with its Prius hybrid.

Honda Motor Co., Japan’s No. 2 automaker behind Toyota, will continue to make gas-and-electric models of its Civic sedan but will stop selling the hybrid Accord with the new model, expected to go on sale later this year, company spokesman Yoshiyuki Kuroda said.

The Accord hybrid, which is sold only in North America, was a dud, selling 25,000 since going on sale in 2004 and just 6,100 last year.

Mr. Kuroda said the decision underlines how hybrids tend to be more popular with smaller models because mileage improvements tend to be more pronounced.

A hybrid switches between a gas engine and electric motor to deliver better mileage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid is the market leader, with 729,800 units sold since December 1997. Toyota sells several other hybrid models, including the hybrid Camry and hybrid Lexus models.

“Americans didn’t accept the Accord hybrid,” Mr. Kuroda said.

The Accord hybrid’s U.S. sales totaled just 439 last month, while Toyota sold 24,000 Prius cars during the same period.

Last year, Honda said it would stop making the slow-selling Honda Insight hybrid, but Honda is promising a new U.S. hybrid competitor in 2009.

Tokyo-based Honda continues to offer the hybrid Civic, which has sold more than 153,000 since going on sale in 2001 in Japan, Europe and North America. The company said it remained committed to developing more hybrids.

Hybrid sales in North America have risen with soaring gas prices. The Prius made up more than 40 percent of hybrid sales in the U.S. last year.

Hybrids such as the Prius and Civic deliver as much as 50 miles per gallon or more, depending on driving conditions, but the hybrid Accord got fewer miles to the gallon.

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