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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.

  • EBFlex More proof of how much EVs suck. If you have to do this, that means you are trying to substitute what people want...and that's ICE.
  • ChristianWimmer The interior might be well-made, but the design is just hideous in my opinion. It’s to busy and there’s no simplistic harmony visible in it. In fact I feel that the nicest Lexus interior ever could be found in the original LS400 - because it was rather minimalistic, had pleasing lines and didn’t try to hard. It looked just right. All Lexus interiors which came after it just had bizarre styling cues and “tried to hard” if you know what I mean.
  • THX1136 As a couple of folks have mentioned wasn't this an issue with the DeLorean? I seem to recall that it was claimed you could do a 'minor' buff of the surface and it would be good as new. Guess I don't see why it's a big deal if it can be so easily rectified. Won't be any different than getting out and waxing the car every so often - part of ownership, eh.
  • ToolGuy This kind of thing might be interesting in a racing simulator.
  • FreedMike Hmmm, electric powered vibrations. Is this the long rumored move into products market?