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Honda cuts into hybrid pricing

Sense of place: Honda is adding satellite navigation as standard kit to the Civic Hybrid.

Long-serving Honda-badged hybrids gain more showroom spark

Honda logo31 Jul 2013

HONDA has cut prices across its longest-serving petrol-electric hybrid models, knocking $2000 off its Civic Hybrid and a more generous $3000 off the Insight.

The price cut includes a significant equipment upgrade for the petrol-electric Civic, including satellite navigation with live traffic updates, a DVD player, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, and lights for the vanity mirrors.

It also gets a cosmetic update, with daytime running lights added to the front.

The Civic Hybrid’s price drops by $2000 to start from a Toyota Prius-matching $33,990 before on-road costs, although as Honda points out, this is with flat paint rather than the optional metallic skin.

The Insight just drops in price with no extra equipment thrown in. It now starts from $26,990 for the VTi, or $30,490 for the more upmarket VTi-L version that adds satellite navigation, a reversing camera and slightly larger 16-inch alloy wheels among other features.

According to Honda, the Insight’s price has been “repositioned”, and it now sits close in price to other small diesel-engined hatchbacks including Mazda’s strong-selling 3 and the Holden Cruze.

The Honda Civic’s price and extra equipment, meanwhile, now either match or better that of the entry-level version of Toyota’s environmental hero, the Prius hatchback.

However, unlike the Prius, both the Civic Hybrid and Insight are not able to travel under electric power alone, with the electric motor only providing support to the petrol engine.

Honda Insight sales have all but dried up this year, selling only 33 cars over the last six months compared with almost 150 for the same time last year.

Sales of the CR-Z sports coupe – the first hybrid car sold in Australia to feature a manual gearbox – have plummeted almost 80 per cent compared with last year despite a mid-life makeover.

The car-maker does not split out Civic Hybrid sales from mainstream models, but the small sedan and hatchback range is the company’s strongest seller, narrowly bumping the CR-V small soft-roader from the podium. The car-maker also added a hybrid model to the Jazz city car line-up, but again, the VFACTS data does not spin out sales volumes for specific models.

Hybrid passenger car sales to private buyers – the premium market for the likes of Toyota’s locally made petrol-electric version of the Camry – are already up about 10 per cent this year, suggesting mums and dads are slowly warming to the fuel-saving technology.

However, government and business buyers – hybrid technology’s long-running heartland – appear to be jumping off the green sedan and hatchback wagon, although sales of hybrid soft-roaders in the segment are up by more than 14 per cent.

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