Honda Swings Axe, Ends Life of One Model, Two Fun Variants

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
honda swings axe ends life of one model two fun variants

Honda, perhaps taking a cue from domestic manufacturers, has decided to diminish its passenger car ranks.

Reported today by Automotive News, the automaker has decided to discontinue the Honda Fit in the U.S., while also killing off the Honda Civic coupe and ending manual transmission availability in the Accord.

The Fit’s looming disappearance doesn’t come as a shock; Honda introduced a fourth-generation model overseas last year and omitted any mention of the United States. Sales of the model have declined year after year as domestic buyers move away from small cars and into crossovers of all sizes. Production of the current model will thus dry up in Mexico.

“We are discontinuing one car, but for us the real story is how committed we are to our core car products,” said Gary Robinson, Honda’s assistant vice president of product planning. “We’re going to be very much focused on the Civic and the Accord, which effectively created the image of the Honda brand in the U.S.”

The Civic remains a favorite among compact car shoppers due to its plethora of body styles and available power choices, but come 2021, the Canadian-built Civic coupe will be no more. One reason for the demise of both the Civic coupe and the Fit is the rising popularity of the Civic hatchback, which will see production come to the U.S. next year. Currently, Civic hatches hail from the UK.

Matt Sloustcher, head of PR at American Honda, expanded on this reasoning in reply to a Twitter lament:

I hear you. Fit and Civic transact about $2k apart in the market, so the Honda value proposition for entry cars is still very strong. Civic Hatch offers more space, performance and refinement, so buyers get more car for their dollar. And CPO market is strong and growing.

— Matt Sloustcher (@SF_Matt) July 17, 2020

With the coupe’s demise, the model’s Si range drops to one body style: the sedan. However, Si models won’t be available for 2021 — a temporary move as the automaker pursues development of a next-generation car.

While the loss of a manual transmission in the Accord stands to sadden the fewest would-be buyers among the cars mentioned here, it’s still a loss for the row-your-own community. Paired only with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder in Sport guise, the stick’s take rate couldn’t have been very high, to put it mildly. Manual transmission take rate plunged towards 1 percent among U.S. car buyers last year — a rate topped even by EV sales.

Perhaps ominously, Robinson said “important changes” are coming for the Civic, without mentioning what those might be. The model stands to gain a revamp for 2022, so stay tuned on that.

[Images: Honda]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jul 18, 2020

    Since most new vehicles are overpriced and come with black only interiors, CVTs, limited exterior colors mostly black, white, and silver, and force you into a more expensive trim level to get the one thing you would pay for as an option then I might not ever get another new vehicle again. If I am going to have to compromise and get a vehicle for the most part that doesn't come the way I want it then I might as well save my money and buy used. I don't really want to be forced to buy direct injection,turbo charge,cvts, and a water pump enclosed with a timing belt or timing chain. After a while if you compromise everything you want in a vehicle then it becomes less desirable to buy one. I understand that manufacturers need to cut costs and that dealers only want to stock what they know will sell but I am the buyer and if I am going to pay 30k and more for a new vehicle then I want to get most of the things that I want otherwise why waste my money on something I don't like or want. Just my opinion but after all I have a right to choose what I spend my money on.

    • Ryan Ryan on Jul 19, 2020

      Jeff, You hit the nail on it's head. I read your post and shook my head, concurring completely. All three pieces of news in this article are saddening. For the consumer, us. Three less manual options for the United States. We lose, as enthusiasts and entry level buyers alike.

  • AVT AVT on Jul 19, 2020

    I think for a lot of people who do want manuals at an affordable level, they would be more likely to buy a motorcycle. given how expensive vehicles are now and how cheap new sport bikes (while still being fairly reliable) it seems like the logical step. The truth is most people only have themselves in the vehicle they drive 90% of the time anyways so do you really need the 3 extra usable seats in the car. I own a goldwing and honestly, it really is an affordable accord with a manual.

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.