Detroit Auto Show: Honda Civic Hybrid, CNG

Aiming for a more energetic appearance – and hoping to goose sales – Honda showed off a couple of what it called “concepts” for its 2012 Civic at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. The company said the ninth generation of the vehicle, which first appeared in the United States in 1972, would come in “conventional gasoline models, two sporty ‘Si’ performance versions, along with one hybrid and a natural gas alternative-fuel variant.”

That last version of the Civic, the natural gas vehicle, seems to be a rising priority for the company. In its announcement accompanying the 2012 unveiling, the company said it was “expanding retail sales of the natural gas-powered Civic GX model, which is the only OEM-built, dedicated CNG passenger car assembled in America.” The Associated Press reported the company would make the natural-gas vehicle available in all 50 states. As for the Civic Hybrid, Honda said it would for the first time come with a lithium-ion battery. Also of note is that the new Civics will make use of Honda Eco Assist technology to eek out better gas mileage.

Honda Civic concepts, Detroit auto show

image via Honda

Although it billed the sedan and coupe it showed in Detroit as “concepts,” it’s widely assumed the finished revamped Civic will not differ greatly. After all, the company said it would arrive in the market this spring, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for big shifts.

Historically, Honda has tweaked the Civic every three to five years, hoping to keep the momentum going on the sales stalwart. There might be a little more urgency with the latest generation, after U.S. sales flattened in 2010.

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Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

    • Pete

      Sales did not flatten for the civic: Honda sold 30,000 copies in December, to total nearly 300,000 for the year, which is not bad given the aging look. Also, you have to take into account high interest in the Fit, which was rated #1 small sedan over the Focus and Yaris, and likely stole sales from the larger civic sedan.