Honda’s Civic Hybrid has always been something of an afterthought in the marketplace, as Honda’s “mild” hybrid system consistently fell behind the Toyota Prius in terms of mileage, electric-only range and green street-cred. Then, late last year, Honda settled a class action lawsuit alleging that the Civic Hybrid couldn’t hit its EPA numbers. And though the weak-selling Insight has replaced the Civic Hybrid as Honda’s problem hybrid of the moment, the Civic Hybrid woes are still piling up. The latest bad news comes from the LA TImes, which reports that Civic Hybrid batteries have been dying before their time, and that Honda’s software “fix” for the problem reduces mileage from 45 MPG to 33 MPG. Since the standard Civic is rated at 30 MPG, a number of Civic Hybrid owners are wondering why they paid extra for what amounts to a 3 MPG improvement on the highway… and they’re accusing Honda of refusing to replace batteries under warranty. In other words, this looks to be one of the first major battery warranty-related fiascos of the hybrid era… and it’s shaping up to be a nasty one. Electric car makers, take notice.
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