Honda Civic hybrid: At 50, the Japanese becomes a very pleasant compact

Honda Civic hybrid: At 50, the Japanese becomes a very pleasant compact

Fifty years after the first generation, Honda is launching its eleventh Civic, after 27 million units produced in their successive versions! Strategic upheaval: it is no longer produced in Europe, but comes from Japan. Paradoxical policy for a reputable manufacturer, but whose sales are declining in Europe and which has been losing money there for years. Unlike the previous one, produced in Great Britain, this Civic XI comes from Japan. Logically, the English site in Swindon (3,500 employees) closed its doors in July 2021.

It is now the same model as the Japanese or American versions. Unheard of since the 1995 version. From 1995 to 2021, the firm claimed on the contrary to design cars specifically for Europeans. This 50th anniversary is also emblematic in more ways than one. It was indeed half a century ago that the Japanese firm launched at the same time its first real car whose engines were designed directly… for the automobile, and not extrapolated from its engines for motorcycles, whose Japanese remains the world’s leading manufacturer.

A marginal place in Europe

Honda has become a marginal manufacturer in Europe. It sold just 5,300 cars last year in France, against 18,000 at the end of the 1990s. And only 68,000 in Europe (EU, Great Britain, Switzerland, Norway), against targets of 300,000. Honda had curled 250,000 in the record vintage of the mid-2000s. Hence the globalization of products, to reduce costs by sharing costs on volumes intended for all continents.

Globalization is not necessarily a bad thing, because “markets are converging”, notes Jean-Alexis Bidet, marketing director of Honda France. And, after a test of some 200 km in the Sierra de Guadarrama, around Madrid, it is clear that this is the best Civic for a long time!

Streamlined lines, more sober interior


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