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by Matt Campbell

The future of Honda Australia’s hybrid range appears to be in doubt, and its hero performance-focused hybrid model – the Honda CR-Z – could be on the chopping block.

The CR-Z was dropped in Europe and the UK earlier this year, but the company stated it would continue building the CR-Z despite it sharing platform components and hybrid bits with the defunct Insight. The CR-Z and Insight both feature the same 1.5-litre petrol engine which is teamed to a bank of batteries and electric motor, albeit with different power outputs.

It has become clear to CarAdvice that the company’s Australian arm could axe the two-door petrol-electric sports car.

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“We are evaluating CR-Z long-term strategy right now,” said Honda Australia director Stephen Collins.

When asked if the brand is considering a price cut from the current $38,490 starting point, Collins suggested that while nothing official had been implemented, bargains were out there to be had.

“We have been clearing some aged stock with dealer incentives recently,” Collins told CarAdvice when asked about July’s big sales jump, which saw 34 examples of the CR-Z sold – a record month for that car. For perspective, Honda has only sold 62 units for all of 2014, meaning the July figure was well over half the running annual total.

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The Japanese brand previously offered four hybrid models as part of its line-up – the Insight, Civic Hybrid, CR-Z and Jazz Hybrid – and touted its petrol-electric models as being a key part of its range.

However, in early 2014 the company axed the Insight globally due to lacklustre sales. The hybrid-powered Civic sedan wasn’t included in a range update just a few months, and it remains unclear if the brand will offer an updated version of the Civic Hybrid here.

“We are still selling this model but it is a ‘13 year model,” Collins explained. “Other Civic sedans got a ‘14 model upgrade a month or so back, as that’s why it wasn’t communicated at that time.”

Honda Insight

The existing Jazz Hybrid has also finished up locally following the switch to an all-new Jazz. That car hasn’t yet received the hybrid treatment, and Collins reiterated the brand’s approach for the vital city car.

“Jazz Hybrid is part of our plan, but won’t be this year,” Collins said.

“[Our] priority with new Jazz was to get the petrol engine to market ASAP as we had run out of stock,” he said, and the market reflected that truth in June when only 144 examples were sold – well down on the average of 600 units per month seen in 2013.

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“Timing for Jazz Hybrid next year is TBC,” Collins said.

Honda’s overall sales are down considerably in 2014, with the Japanese brand sweating on the arrival of new models such as the Jazz and City to help revive its fortunes. The Japanese marque has sold 18,151 cars so far this year, down a huge 30.7 per cent on its 2013 tally to the end of July (26,175).




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