Honda is ending sales of the hybrid Accord sedan in North America after most potential buyers decided the high price and relatively poor fuel economy didn’t stack up. But it is not abandoning the hybrid segment by any means.


The automaker on Monday confirmed that the Accord hybrid would be axed from the range after the 2007 model year, the Los Angeles Times (LAT) reported.


“The reason it didn’t sell is because the price premium wasn’t justified by the gas mileage,” Jesse Toprak, an analyst with automotive website Edmunds.com, told the paper.


Honda sold just 439 Accord hybrids in the United States last month, the LAT added, while Toyota sold 24,009 of its less-expensive, segment-leading Prius.


Sales of hybrid vehicles as a segment more than doubled this year, while the overall market for new vehicles is flat, the LAT noted.


The paper said that Honda positioned the Accord hybrid as a performance model with V6 engine and heated leather seats and its base price currently is $US31,685, compared with $26,820 for the Toyota Camry hybrid sedan, its closest competitor.


Despite the hybrid drivetrain, the Accord’s combined city-highway mileage of 31 miles per US gallon, though respectable for any car, is hardly in the same league with the Prius at 55 mpg or Honda’s own Civic hybrid at 50 mpg, the LA Times said, adding that it was little improvement on the standard four-cylinder Accord’s 28 mpg.


“It’s been our experience that hybrid customers respond to high fuel economy numbers,” Honda spokesman Sage Marie told the Los Angeles Times.


The LAT said Honda is not abandoning he hybrid market in the US – it is trying to increase sales of its Civic hybrid and plans to introduce a purpose-built hybrid car within two years to challenge the Prius.