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Honda is gunning for the Toyota Prius with a new small hybrid
Honda puts its crosshairs on the Toyota Prius

Honda was the first car company to bring a modern gasoline-electric hybrid to the U.S. market with the Insight in 1999. Since that time, however, Honda has been relegated to a distant second in the hybrid sales race to Toyota.

Although remarkably fuel efficient, Honda's two-seat Insight never caught on with the American public. Two generations of Civic Hybrids and an Accord Hybrid also weren't enough to sway hordes of people to Honda showrooms. In the case of the Civic Hybrid, it was the innocuous styling -- the Accord Hybrid failed due to its "performance hybrid" nature which resulted in meager fuel economy gains over a conventional Accord V6.

As a result, Toyota simply ran away from the field with its unique, roomy and highly practical second generation Prius. While the styling of the Prius didn't set many hearts ablaze, Americans automatically associated the Prius with being a hybrid.

Toyota sold over 110,000 units of the Prius through the first seven months of 2007. Honda, on the other hand, struggled to sell one-fifth that number with the Civic Hybrid and Accord Hybrid sales combined.

"The Prius has become synonymous with hybrid; it's the Kleenex of hybrids," said Honda senior VP John Mendel. "We feel Honda should be synonymous with the most fuel-efficient company in America."

Tired of standing in Toyota's shadow, Honda is looking for a little magic of its own and is building a dedicated hybrid car that will have its own unique look. According to Honda execs, the new "Global Small Hybrid" will be a five-passenger vehicle, have a price tag of under $22,000 and will arrive in 2009.

Honda also says that the Global Small Hybrid will have better fuel economy than the Prius. Given the company’s past experience with the Insight and its title as "The most fuel-efficient company in America," Honda surely has the experience and fortitude to achieve that goal.

Honda, however, isn't placing all of its eggs in one basket in hybrid technology. While Toyota is looking to make all of its vehicle hybrids by 2020, Honda is aiming to reserve hybrid technology for its small cars while giving customers the option of a diesel engine in its larger vehicles.

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By Moishe on 8/28/2007 9:34:51 AM , Rating: 5
Competition is good... and Honda can do it if anyone can. I don't think $22k is that great of a price. I think someone needs to build an affordable hybrid (< $15k)

I think it's odd that the looks of the civic and accord hybrids are being blamed for the lack of sales. I personally would rather have a regular looking car that also happens to be hybrid than a car that is ugly and hybrid. I think the real reason is that people simply like the way the Prius looks better than the accord or civic... the Hondas have always been very boring looking. While the Prius is ugly, at least it's different.

RE: competition
By mdogs444 on 8/28/2007 9:43:32 AM , Rating: 2
I personally hate the Prius. Looks like a modern day grocery getter. But Honda's will have a similar look as well. The reason they look that way is for 1)Aerodynamics, and B)they need the room to be able to store components that make it a hybrid.

Dont you think if they could make full hybrid that looked like a G35, or Audi A4 they would? I believe the parts just arent small enough yet.

As far as the price is concerned, i wouldn't pay $22k for it either. But then again, honda civics are around $20k to begin with. The day of buying QUALITY cars under $20k is about to come to an end. If you want to stick to that price range, you will have to buy a Hyundai, Kia, Daewoo, or some other piece of crap.

RE: competition
By WhiteBoyFunk on 8/28/2007 9:59:19 AM , Rating: 3
As a reader of DT, aren't you familiar with the Tesla Roadster? I believe the components of that were pretty small AND it looks hella good.

RE: competition
By killerroach on 8/28/2007 10:23:53 AM , Rating: 3
As a DT reader, I'm also familiar with the price tag on the Tesla Roadster. It's just not in the same class as the Prius.

The Prius is the iPod of hybrid cars. It may or may not be the best one out there, but it's synonymous with its market, and they're thought of as being "cool" to own. I'm sure Honda will be able to come up with one heck of a product, but it'll probably take more than a better car to dislodge the Prius' market dominance.

RE: competition
By Sulphademus on 8/28/2007 1:55:54 PM , Rating: 3
The Prius is the iPod of hybrid cars.

So would that make Honda's competitor the Zune?

RE: competition
By PCDestroyer on 8/29/2007 7:12:03 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe more like a SanDisk Sansa Connect player. It has more features, but they're not as stylish...

RE: competition
By ss284 on 8/28/2007 11:12:19 AM , Rating: 3
Are you yourself familiar with the Tesla yourself? The Tesla isnt a hybrid, its fully electric car. Its just a battery and electric motor stuck into a lotus elise. You can't fill it up with gas, and it has to be recharged when its batteries die.

RE: competition
By WhiteBoyFunk on 8/28/2007 12:26:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, it's a full electric and 2 speed. The body style WAS taken from a Lotus (although it doesn't really look like the Elise ). It's not even that expensive, but production numbers are low. Why go with hybrid/slow when you could go electric/fast? I don't follow that logic.

RE: competition
By Moishe on 8/28/2007 11:24:31 AM , Rating: 2
1 billion dollars, and it's a sports car. very impractical and tiny.

What we need is a regular affordable 4 seat/4 door hybrid.

RE: competition
By FITCamaro on 8/28/2007 12:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
Uh yes and it also costs $100,000.

RE: competition
By tjr508 on 8/28/2007 12:53:39 PM , Rating: 2
Let's not forget, that car uses battery technology that EVERY major automaker has dismissed as currrently unsafe for this type of application.

RE: competition
By leexgx on 8/29/2007 10:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
exploading cars :)

thay are unsafe when thay fail but there is allways wasy to put in safe gards

RE: competition
By Spivonious on 8/28/2007 10:12:18 AM , Rating: 4
I think the person buying the Prius is the same person who gets the groceries, so the styling issue isn't an issue at all.

You can buy lots of quality cars for under $20k:

Aveo, Cobalt, Colorado, HHR, Malibu, Silverado

PT Cruiser, Sebring

Avenger, Caliber, Caravan

Escape, F-150, Focus, Fusion, Mustang, Ranger

Canyon, Sierra

Accord, Civic, Element, Fit

Hyundai (much better than they used to be)
Accent, Elantra, Sonata, Tiburon, Tucson

Compass, Patriot, Wrangler

Mazda3, Mazda6, Tribute




Altima, Frontier, Sentra, Versa

G5, G6, Vibe

Ion, VUE

tC, xB, xD


Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Tacoma, Yaris

Jetta, Beetle, Rabbit

I left out the Isuzus, Suzukis, and Kias because you're right, they're crap. I can't attest to the quality of all of these cars, but I can say that my Focus, my brother-in-law's Rabbit, my sister's Matrix, my friend's Cobalt, my other friend's Altima, and my other friend's Aveo are all running fine and haven't had any major problems.

RE: competition
By therealnickdanger on 8/28/2007 10:24:11 AM , Rating: 3
I'm beginning to believe that "crap" cars are a bit of a myth. Every vehicle is bound to have a lemon or a recall, but ultimately if you define quality as "not breaking down often", there are plenty of quality cars out there. Keep any car clean and well-maintained and it will last a long time. I have a couple friends that drive what they claim to be POSs, but I never seem them treat the vehicle with an ounce of respect. It's a POS because of neglect.

Some people only define "quality" as a plush, powerful ride with a sporty suspension, in which case I think may mislead you to believe that anything without a .85g skidpad rating is "crap". I'm actually shocked by the perceived INCREASE in quality sub-20k cars.

RE: competition
By Moishe on 8/28/2007 11:23:34 AM , Rating: 2
Some cars simply are flimsy and break often (relative to most cars). Generally those are fixed fast because they really damage the manufacturer's rep.

but overall, even the Suzukis and Kias are way better than they used to be. I think what we pay for is the luxury items that we all take for granted.

99% of people want AC and a stereo. I think everything not essential should be optional. When I price computers at dell, I find the cheapest and then try to downgrade it to see what the floor is... we should be able to do that with cars.

RE: competition
By FITCamaro on 8/28/2007 12:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
You're not helping yourself by admitting you shop for computers at Dell. They are hardly the cheapest or the best.

RE: competition
By Oregonian2 on 8/28/2007 12:50:36 PM , Rating: 2
Note that the cheapest one won't be the best and vice versa. It's a matter of finding the compromise that suits one best.

RE: competition
By Shark Tek on 8/28/2007 2:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
Amen to that, I agree 100%

RE: competition
By Moishe on 8/28/2007 2:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
I've never bought one from Dell.. in fact I've never bought a prebuilt computer :) BUT whenever I build one (or in research for others) I do go to Dell and customize one down all the way to see what the bargain is.

RE: competition
By retrospooty on 8/28/07, Rating: 0
RE: competition
By skissinger on 8/28/2007 10:37:47 AM , Rating: 3
Kia and Hyundai are the same company and have been sharing platforms for several years now. So, I have a hard time buying the Hyundai is good but Kia is crap argument.

Isuzu currently doesn't sell anything that isn't a re-badged GM product.

Most of Suzuki's line is rebadged Daewoo (a division of GM now) cars. The exceptions are the Vitara and the SX4 (and the SX4 was co-developed with and sold by Fiat as well).

And the 100k mile warranties are all powertrain - and GM went to 100k a few months ago (though for only 5 years, not the longer terms you get from the Korean manufacturers).

RE: competition
By retrospooty on 8/29/2007 12:01:24 AM , Rating: 2
"Kia and Hyundai are the same company and have been sharing platforms for several years now. So, I have a hard time buying the Hyundai is good but Kia is crap argument."

Agreed. Both are the same platform. Both pretty cheap.

RE: competition
By mdogs444 on 8/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: competition
By RjBass on 8/28/2007 2:27:58 PM , Rating: 2
I purchased a Suzuki Forenza last year and it has so far been the best car I have owened in the last 10. I only paid $12,000 for it brand new.

RE: competition
By Chernobyl68 on 8/28/2007 4:10:33 PM , Rating: 2
and not one of those has headroom enough for a 6'2" guy.

a lot of the hybrid's efficiencies are from the small size and aerodynamics. The original geo metro got over 50 mpg.

RE: competition
By Spivonious on 8/31/2007 3:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
The Focus does. My brother-in-law is 6'3" and every time he gets in the backseat he tells me how amazing the headroom is.

RE: competition
By Dog Meatson on 9/3/2007 1:59:05 AM , Rating: 2
I'm 6'6". Damn near every one of them has enough room for me to drive them comfortably. I own a Civic and a Protege, and have owned or driven the P.T. Cruiser, Focus, Escape, F-series, Mustang, Mini Cooper, Camry, Corolla...

Of those, the Mini Cooper was the stunner. Incredibly roomy for its size, and I had more than plenty of head and legroom. Actually slid the seat forward a couple notches from the back setting. It's what I'd go buy right now if I had the cash drop in my lap.

You're right about fuel economy, though... it's stunning to me that one of the cheapest cars on the market in 1987 gets better mileage (Chevy Sprint, EPA rated at 53MPG) than anything produced for under $20K now.

RE: competition
By A5un on 8/28/2007 10:21:27 AM , Rating: 2
The '08 Mitsubishi Lancer could be under $20k, as long as you stay away from the GTS model. And I think, this is the most gorgeous car out there today. And as far as I'm concerned, the G35 is butt ugly.

On another note, diesel seems to be the better choice. It seem to me the amount of energy required to make the battery is significantly higher than the amount of energy needed to make an entire normal car. More energy probably means more coal burned. And well, more coal burned is bad (well, I'm basically burning coal as I type too, but that's another story).

RE: competition
By glennpratt on 8/28/2007 10:58:07 AM , Rating: 4
08 Mitsubishi Lancer... is the most gorgeous car out there.

the G35 is butt ugly.

Clearly your tastes match up closer with the high school demographic then your average car buyer. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
diesel seems to be the better choice.

If only because we are too stupid to not follow France's lead and build some more nukes. Not to start a conversation that exists in 90% of DT comments.

RE: competition
By FITCamaro on 8/28/2007 12:47:35 PM , Rating: 2
If only because we are too stupid to not follow France's lead and build some more nukes.

What? Regardless of how the power is generated, it takes far more energy to produce a hybrid car than it does a normal one. And the problem really isn't the power plant. Its all the shipping that has to take place to build the components. We don't have nuclear powered ships yet (other than military subs).

I'm all for nuclear power but it doesn't correct the fact that diesel and bio-diesels are a far better alternative than hybrid cars. Even with clean power to create them, you still have the fact that eventually those batteries are going to die out and be thrown away. Batteries that contain substances that are in the club of some of the most toxic chemicals we know. Diesels can run clean fuel and die out no sooner than a well built gas engine. The only problem is producing enough bio-diesel.

There are plenty of ways to make things be more eco-friendly. All it takes is money. Do you have a ton? If you did, would you give it away for the betterment of mankind (the answer is no, no matter what you might initially blurt out).

RE: competition
By helios220 on 8/28/2007 1:04:44 PM , Rating: 2
We don't have nuclear powered ships yet (other than military subs).

While I still agree with the spirit of your post, there are many other Nuclear powered vessels other than military subs. Aside from the obvious other nuclear powered surface vessels such as Aircraft carriers, there actually quite a few nuclear powered civil vessels.

There are 7 or 8 Russian nuclear powered civil ice breakers and another two Finnish nuclear ice breakers. In terms of merchant ships which are more applicable to this conversation, there have been various attempts both in the US and abroad that have met with limited success, but the Russian NS Sevmorput has been successfully operating as a multi-purpose commercial vessel for quite some time.

All and all, I personally don't believe vast fleets of nuclear powered civil vessels are too great of an idea... but some examples do exist.

RE: competition
By seppoK on 8/28/2007 5:43:40 PM , Rating: 2
There are 7 or 8 Russian nuclear powered civil ice breakers and another two Finnish nuclear ice breakers.

Actually Finland has no nuclear ice breakers. Two ships were made in Finland by Finnish companies without reactors for Russia and Russians installed their reactors into those ships by themselves.

RE: competition
By Samus on 8/28/2007 10:26:37 AM , Rating: 2
Honda definately makes better engines than Toyota (and anybody, for that matter) but they're lacking in quality of other components. Every Honda my family has ever owned has had the air conditioner compressor fail (90 Accord, 96 Civic, 99 Odessey, 04 CRV!) and the former two cars had terrible front-end problems. CV joints, sway bar link pins, ball joints, tie rod ends, all the rubber components failed like clockwork every few years making the cars drive like slop.

Unfortunately their engines are also extremely expensive (see Ariel Atom, now using GM powerplants instead of Honda's because they shave thousands off the final price) but always put out more power per gallon.

Honda, the core duo of engines :)

RE: competition
By spindoc on 8/28/2007 1:26:10 PM , Rating: 2
I drive a Honda and agree with your post but I am still plagued by one question. Why does Honda do so poorly in F1? Their problem clearly isn't drivers.

RE: competition
By Hare on 8/28/2007 2:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
Their windtunnel has been plagued with problems and the data that they've collected seems to be bad. Bad data equals bad aerodynamic development -> slow car. They have just recently discovered this.

RE: competition
By GoatMonkey on 8/28/2007 3:20:06 PM , Rating: 2
It worked fine for their old car. The Super Best Friends are doing relatively well this year with that design.

Sato passing Alonso was the greatest moment this season.

RE: competition
By Hare on 8/28/2007 11:48:50 PM , Rating: 2
Google "honda wind tunnel problem" ;)

RE: competition
By GoatMonkey on 8/29/2007 8:21:09 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not denying that that's what they say the problem is. It's just a weak excuse.

RE: competition
By GreenEnvt on 8/28/2007 10:54:50 AM , Rating: 3
Hyundai's quality has been MUCH better in the last 4-5 years then in the past. It's to the point now where Hyundai is scoring as good as, or better, then Toyota and Honda in several studies.

They've long surpassed the quality of german vehicles (other then Porsche which does too small volume to compare), and the North American companies.

RE: competition
By FITCamaro on 8/28/2007 12:40:28 PM , Rating: 1
Being able to fold up on impact to protect the occupants and scoring high in "Initial Quality" awards hardly makes them better than anyone.

You could put a gun to my head to try and force me to drive one, but you better be prepared to either stand there a while waiting or shoot.

RE: competition
By Brandon Hill on 8/28/2007 12:50:55 PM , Rating: 2
Well, that's your problem. Bury your head in the sand and watch the world pass you by.

People said the same thing about Honda and Toyota in the early 80's. Look at where they are now.

Now Hyundai is in the big leagues and is on the verge of releasing its RWD Genesis luxury sedan which will have a 380HP 4.6 liter V8 engine and a 6-speed auto tranny.

RE: competition
RE: competition
By spindoc on 8/28/2007 1:29:35 PM , Rating: 2
You lie! That's a Camry. They just changed the badges.


RE: competition
By Brandon Hill on 8/28/2007 1:31:24 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, you're thinking of the Chinese :-)

RE: competition
By GoatMonkey on 8/28/2007 3:23:43 PM , Rating: 2
The Tiburon replacement is supposed to have a V-8 also, possibly the same one I'm not sure. It might actually be a worthy contender against the Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger.

RE: competition
By mdogs444 on 8/28/2007 3:26:17 PM , Rating: 3
LOL a tiburon w/ a V-8, thats almost hilarious. The day someone in Hyundai rolls up next to me and says "you wanna drag", i might literally laugh myself into an accident.

RE: competition
By Brandon Hill on 8/28/2007 3:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
The V8 rumor is just that a rumor, but it is RWD.

The new Tiburon will come with a turbocharged 4-banger producing 200+ HP and the corporate 3.8 liter V6 producing around ~300HP.

Both will be hooked up to 6-speed transmissions (manual or automatic).

Spy pics:

RE: competition
By GoatMonkey on 8/29/2007 8:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
That's true. The turbo 4 or V-6 is more likely. But the V-8 rumor keeps popping up everywhere.

RE: competition
By kamra on 8/28/2007 12:04:47 PM , Rating: 3
lol @ the "1.)" and then "B.)"... but come on... VW makes a pretty cool set of high quality cars for under $16k! and when the new TDI (diesel engines) are back in the states, the Prius will have 50 MPG to worry about from the Germans.

RE: competition
By Lord 666 on 8/28/2007 1:40:26 PM , Rating: 2
Toyota will also have to worry about the Honda diesel in 2009 that will average around 50mpg as well.

The 2008 VW TDI is estimated to average around 50mpg with some test vehicles hitting the 65mpg on the open road. Currently with my 2006 Jetta TDI, the record on the open road is 54.3mpg

If and when the Mini Cooper D are imported (using a Toyota diesel powerplant), it will approach 70mpg on the highway.

RE: competition
By MADAOO7 on 8/29/2007 3:10:09 AM , Rating: 2
Do some research buddy:

2007 Civic starts at $14,810 and a loaded Civic EX Sedan is $19,910 or $18,710 for an EX Coupe.

Don't make up numbers just to prove your point, these boards are for constructive comments.

RE: competition
By mdogs444 on 8/29/2007 6:39:35 AM , Rating: 2
Ok you are obviously clueless and did not read my post. I said the civics start around 20k with tax title and destination charges - base price. Which they do.

Take a base civic $15k, add tax, title, destination charges and you are at about $18k+. Thats with no options, no automatic transmission, no cd player.

Just one upgrade and you'll be at 20k. And the Civic Ex's starting at 19.9 and 18.7 - how is that not around 20k? Add in tax, title, and destination and you are over 20 easily.

You obviously have never bought your own new car from a dealer. Im not so sure what it is about this so extremely difficult for you to understand. Get some experience and then come back.

RE: competition
By mdogs444 on 8/29/2007 8:31:32 AM , Rating: 2
And its the base model EX that starts at that price - with no options.

RE: competition
By rcc on 8/28/2007 11:41:19 AM , Rating: 2
As the article said, owning a hybrid is all about posturing. People look a Prius and think Hybrid. People look at an Accord and think Honda. It doesn't matter whether or not the Honda variety is more efficient, it needs to be instantly identifiable to everyone as a hybrid. Otherwise why shell out the extra bucks.

Not that I agree, but that does seem to be the overriding attitude of most hybrid owners I know.

Where the Hell are the Diesel Hybrids?
By KingofL337 on 8/28/2007 3:21:53 PM , Rating: 2
Where are the Diesel Hybrids if we are ever going to get any descent MPG we need some diesels. On top of that they don't even need to be hybrids they just need to stop the motor instead of idling and restart as soon as you push down the pedal. With this I'm sure we would get into the 70s for MPG.

By nbesheer on 8/29/2007 5:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
We better get MPG in the 70's because replacing the starter that often is going to be expensive, or at least getting a starter that is built to last like that. Just think on a day where I just go to work and don't go out. I start my car 6 times. throughout the day. now just on my way to work I stop 7 times so thats 42 times the starter has to start, not good on it at all.

Prius looks fantastic
By joey2264 on 8/28/2007 12:05:23 PM , Rating: 3
Those of you that don't like the look of the Prius, speak for yourself. Personally, I love the look, and it would be one of the main reasons I would want to buy the car, if I was in the market. And the fact is that it also has more efficient and more mature hybrid parts in it than the Civic Hybrid and the Accord Hybrid. Those are the main reasons people are buying the Prius over the Accord Hybrid and Civic Hybrid, not because of some stupid status symbol.

I am sure Honda recognizes this, which is why they are bringing a true competitor to the Prius out.

BTW, I currently drive an Accord, and love it for the most part, so I certainly am not biased against Honda in general.

what's wrong with the insight?
By zornundo on 8/28/2007 2:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
The insight gets insane mileage. It's an excellent commuter car.

RE: what's wrong with the insight?
By mdogs444 on 8/28/07, Rating: -1
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