Insight Hybrid gets official at North American Auto show

When gas prices were in the range of $4.00 per gallon or more much, talk about hybrid vehicles and all-electric cars were thrown around in the mainstream media. Now that fuel prices are dropping to some of the lowest levels seen in years, the hybrid doesn't seem to get as much attention.

That didn’t stop Honda from officially introducing the Insight Hybrid at the North American International Auto Show. The car will be a 2010 model and will be available starting in April 2009. DailyTech first reported on images of the production Insight Hybrid in December. Exact pricing for the Insight Hybrid is unknown, but Honda says it will sell for less than the price of the Civic Hybrid.

The vehicle is a five-passenger hatchback that uses a 1.3L SOHC i-VTEC engine and an electric motor and battery pack. The IMA Hybrid system uses a 10kW motor with 13hp delivering 68 lb-ft of torque and an Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) the IPU consist of a 5.75 Ah, 100.8V NiMH battery pack, electronic control unit for the motor and cooling system.

Overall combined power from the gasoline and hybrid systems is 98hp at 5,800 rpm with a max torque of 123 lb-ft at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm. Honda says that when traveling on a smooth, flat surface at a constant speed of around 30 MPH, the Insight Hybrid will be able to travel by electric power alone.

The battery pack is comprised of seven different NiMH modules that each contain 84 "D-cell" batteries. An improvement in the efficiency of the battery packs has allowed the Insight to reduce the number of battery packs from 11 (the number in the 2006 Civic Hybrid) to seven.

The electric motor assists the car in acceleration in addition to certain steady state cruising conditions. The motor also acts as a generator during gentle deceleration and coasting to capture kinetic energy to recharge the battery. During deceleration, the cylinders in the gasoline engine are deactivated to nearly eliminate the pumping action of the cylinders to allow more efficient electricity generation for recharging the battery packs.

The new 2010 Honda Insight is EPA rated at 40 MPG / 43 MPG (city/highway). AutoblogGreen, however, was able to manage 63.4 MPG with its test vehicle.

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