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Honda to Discontinue Hybrid Accords, Citing Poor Sales

Honda will discontinue the hybrid version of its Accord sedans, the company said Tuesday, conceding Toyota's dominance with the hit Prius hybrid.

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

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

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 emissions.

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

"Americans didn't accept the Accord hybrid," 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 will 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 sell the hybrid Civic, which has sold more than 153,000 since going on sale in 2001 in Japan, Europe and North America. It 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 like the Prius and Civic deliver as much as 50 miles per gallon or more, depending on driving conditions, but the hybrid Accord delivered fewer miles to the gallon.

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