Honda Motor Co.'s Civic hybrid cars are lined up in front of the Japanese automaker's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. ((Koji Sasahara/Associated Press))

Honda will phase out Civic sedans in the Japanese market because the vehicle's sales are lagging compared to smaller models, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday.

The company stopped producing gasoline-powered Civics for the domestic market in August. Production of gasoline-electric hybrids is scheduled to be phased out in December, and sales of both are expected to stop in January, once inventory runs out.

Though once very popular, sales have lagged compared to the Fit subcompact and Insight hybrid models, Honda said. The company sold 9,000 Civics in Japan last year.

Manufacturing for export models will continue, the company said in a release.

At the height of the Civic's popularity in 1975, Honda sold 177,000 in Japan, and cumulative Civic sales in Japan total three million vehicles, according to Honda.

Honda will continue making export models including the gas-electric hybrid Civic at its Suzuka factory in Mie Prefecture, central Japan. The Civic is also being produced at 13 overseas factories, including one in Alliston, Ont.

The model, sold in 160 nations, remains relatively popular in some overseas markets. The combined Civic models were the best-selling car in Canada in 2009. The line also consistently ranks on the annual list of the most stolen vehicles in Canada.