Honda's Civic Hybrid "Fix" Doesn't Fix The Customer Problem

hondas civic hybrid fix doesnt fix the customer problem

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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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Aug 16, 2010

    Everyone wants a euro style econo car, but no one is going to pay 50k for a slow car here. It's all about cheapest price, for most of the market, so you won't see anything but "fast food". Kinda like airlines. I too would buy a turbodiesel minivan or such if it was offered. It is not, save BMW at their price and quality. The car makers know slow is cheap because they have made a fortune and trained us to pay for horsepower, which is normally very cheap for them to produce. You think it costs 10k more for them to give you an extra 50 hp. It does not. Most horsepower pricing is marketing bull-sxxx, not cost of production. Until gas gets really expensive, this won't happen. Meanwhile, I wish I could buy a turbodiesel station wagon. Not on this side of the pond.

  • Rudiger Rudiger on Aug 17, 2010

    This is a direct result of Honda never being able to quite figure out the 'sweet spot' balance between battery use and longevity like Toyota did with the Prius. The original Insight, although getting stellar gas mileage, did it at the expense of depleting the battery more readily than Toyota, resulting in a much higher battery failure rate. Toyota's hybrid system just doesn't deplete the battery as deeply as Honda's. Ironically, Toyota was able to refine their hybrid system so it now gets better gas mileage than Honda's, as well.

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Aug 17, 2010

    Nissan uses the same system as Toyota I believe and I also can vouch for the beauty of the design. I don't have the fancy technology package (perhaps LKQ online can help here) so I only have a simple analog gauge for SOC. The quirk is no matter how I try, I can't ever get the guage to the uppermost range of full charge. If these batteries are installed and the EPA mileage tests are run with this battery "jammed" full, no wonder the mileage is better in the tests than the real world...

  • Twotom Twotom on Mar 05, 2011

    I have a 2008 HCH that I bought new, and I have never been able to get more than 40 MPG combined. I had the Honda-recommended software update to the engine control IMA system and now get 34 mpg. Honda basically reprogrammed the hybrid propulsion system to rely less on the electric motor and to preserve the life of the battery, which in many HCHs has been failing while still under warranty. The new software has also made the car very sluggish. I have a Civic weighed down by the IMA battery that relies primarily on a 1.3l gas engine for propulsion. I have tried to remedy this with the dealer and directly with Honda America, but they refuse to acknowledge the problem. This is the last Honda I'll ever buy. Information about the ongoing class action suit against Honda here: