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Second generation Insight Hybrid

Third generation Toyota Prius
Honda readies its Prius-fighter

Honda has dabbled in hybrids before with the first generation Insight, the Accord Hybrid, and most recently with the second generation Civic Hybrid. However, neither model has been a runaway sales success like the overachieving Prius from Toyota -- both the original Insight and Accord Hybrid were eventually discontinued.

Now that the Detroit Auto Show is roughly a month away, Honda has officially pulled the wraps off its new Insight Hybrid which will go toe-to-toe with Toyota's wildly popular Prius. As we stated in our original article on the Insight Concept, the production model is little changed stylistically. The production Insight is wearing a smaller, less ornate wheel/tire package and the LED lighting from the concept appears to be gone.

According to Honda, the Insight will use a 1.3-liter gasoline engine and the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. Honda also says that the Insight will feature fuel economy identical to the current Civic Hybrid which is rated at 40 MPG city and 45 MPG highway. The identical fuel economy numbers may be disappointing to some, but remember that the Insight is expected to retail for less than $19,000 while the Civic Hybrid starts at a loftier $23,550.

Honda expects to sell 200,000 Insights globally each year.

When the Insight finally does arrive in showrooms next spring, it will do battle with the third generation Toyota Prius. Photos of the Prius leaked to the internet in mid-October. Toyota later confirmed that the leaked pictures were indeed of the new Prius.

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Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By FITCamaro on 12/3/2008 1:08:32 PM , Rating: 5
By swapping the grill out and changing the wheels.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By ineedaname on 12/3/08, Rating: -1
RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By Raidin on 12/3/2008 1:48:30 PM , Rating: 5
This has been discussed quite a bit in previous, related articles. The Insight looks very similar because the overall shape and design is the most efficient for aerodynamics using current technology and manufacturing techniques.

It was argued that a small car built for maximum aerodynamic efficiency that had to fit the model for a hybrid consumer vehicle in this class, would almost certainly look like these two cars.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By Drexial on 12/3/2008 2:16:03 PM , Rating: 2
I chose to comment and say you deserve a 6.... this keeps coming up. Every discussion. It is the most efficient for space/aerodynamics. The First generation Insight had the lowest drag coefficient of any car. But there was only room for two.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By Solandri on 12/3/2008 3:37:24 PM , Rating: 5
I'll add that when I was playing around with an fluid flow simulator in the early '90s, I arrived at a similar shape as the most aerodynamic for a car. The definitive trait seemed to be the lack of an angle change between the hood and the windshield. Any time I increased that angle, the drag coefficient went up relatively quickly.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By quiksilvr on 12/3/2008 5:27:25 PM , Rating: 1
I would easily agree with you guys...IF THE MPG WAS HIGHER THAN THE LAST GENERATION CIVIC HYBRID. And given that it clearly ISN'T there is NO reason for them to go with this fugly looking aerodynamic shape if nothing is coming from it.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By Raidin on 12/3/2008 5:56:17 PM , Rating: 3
You can't consider the aerodynamic property of a vehicle as the sole reason for the miles per gallon it gets. There are so many other factors. Most notably, weight.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By othercents on 12/3/2008 6:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
exactly... changing the angle between the hood and the windshield adds 200pds in weight.


RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By daar on 12/4/2008 7:50:55 AM , Rating: 1
That drag excuse is retarded, you can make a more unique looking car easily with the same windshield/hood scheme, and the drag increase from front/trunk adjustment would be minimal to such an extent that it wouldn't matter to the engineers.

By jhb116 on 12/4/2008 1:51:59 AM , Rating: 3
Did you read the whole article? Instead of striving for better mileage - they decided to go with more efficient production processes/materials which allows lower cost. Roughly $4,000 drop (from $23K to $19K) represents approximately 17% drop in price with 40/45 MPG versus the 09 Prius, advertised at $22K with 48/45 MPG. Given the US economic situation - this will likely be much more competitive than the previous version or the Civic Hybrid.

By Davelo on 12/4/2008 4:40:56 PM , Rating: 2
Then why don't they do something with those fog light scoops? Surely those must cost some drag.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By FITCamaro on 12/3/08, Rating: 0
By Murloc on 12/3/2008 4:40:57 PM , Rating: 1
people is willing to accept much less than that just to have a car that goes BROOOOOOOOOOM BROOOOOOM.

By BZDTemp on 12/3/2008 5:00:20 PM , Rating: 3
Nobody buys one of those for looks but they are not much more similar than a lot of other cars are. Take US muscle cars around 1970 for example. Today they look almost special but back then not so much.

Form follows function is a great design principle and over time we get used to things looking a certain way.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By Raidin on 12/3/2008 5:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
That's why you won't see too many vehicle manufacturers that sell only one hybrid. They'll sell one that is solely based on it's hybrid powertrain, for those that care only for efficiency, or put it first, such as the Insight and Prius; and then hybrid-variants of other models, for people that care about the hybrid powertrain second to things like aesthetics.

Like you. =)

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By Nfarce on 12/3/2008 6:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
I think the point FC was making was that perhaps more people would be interested in these things if companies like Honda would improve the design and make it more palatable to the eyes. It's a no-brainer that those who already buy these things could care less about aesthetics.

If you look at Chevy's Volt, there's really no comparison here. Point being, if Honda/Toyota/whoever figures that this is the optimum design for aerodynamics, fine. I'd be willing to bet that most of these cars are driven locally in town and rarely average a speed enough to where aerodynamics makes a big difference in mpg, like a highway/vacation cruiser. I do a lot of highway driving and rarely see these things on the road.

Honda/Toyota/whoever should really weigh the difference on appealing to larger masses, not just those who want to feel smug and happy with themselves about owning a hybrid. How could increased sales from something that looks way better and only costs 1-2 mpg be bad? Contrary to popular belief in this Green eco-conscious world we live in today (and Big Oil resentment), the majority of people (in America anyway) still buy cars based on styling.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By FITCamaro on 12/4/2008 6:10:35 AM , Rating: 3
Glad someone has a freakin brain.

If people have the choice between an awesome looking car that gets 38 mpg and a craptastic design like the Prius that gets 40 mpg, many people are gonna go with the car that gets 38 mpg.

By Solandri on 12/4/2008 6:30:20 AM , Rating: 2
Right. The fringe green crowd may look at mileage and nothing else. But for most people, the decision on what car to buy is multi-faceted: mileage, styling, cost, ride, handling, comfort, capacity, safety, etc.

That's why it's important that the automakers are offering different types of hybrid. If you want mileage uber alles, you have the Prius and Insight. If you want something more conventional, you can get the Civic hybrid. Something a little more upscale, the Camry or Accord hybrid. Something that can haul more stuff, there's the Escape and Highland hybrid. All of them get improved mileage over the standard ICE versions for some relatively small tradeoffs (ride, price).

The green crowd can sneer at the full-size sedan and SUV hybrids, but those vehicles are not meant for them. Those wanting a more conventional car can sneer at the Prius and Insight's styling, but those vehicles are not meant for them. Overall, the situation is improved from back when the only way to get a hybrid was to buy a Prius.

By Nfarce on 12/4/2008 10:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
Note how I get rated down for speaking my mind, which I thought was spot on. {sigh} You have to love some of these DT members...

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By walk2k on 12/3/2008 2:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
The rear looks like the old Insight except without the covered-wheel bit.

RE: Honda readies its Prius-fighter
By foolsgambit11 on 12/3/2008 7:35:08 PM , Rating: 2
And there's another thing. That covered wheel bit was a massive improvement to the aerodynamics of the vehicle. But they sacrificed that because it was ugly. I say it's all or nothing at all - if the car's going to be ugly for the sake of aerodynamics, why not make it really ugly?

By Headfoot on 12/5/2008 9:16:17 PM , Rating: 2
Well... this is a no brainer.

If it didn't work the first time why would it work the second time?

By spread on 12/3/2008 8:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
Makes sense.

The most aerodynamic shape for a car looks like pressed sausage.

No Insight whatsoever
By chmilz on 12/3/2008 1:23:23 PM , Rating: 1
I'd take the upcoming hybrid Fusion in a second over either of these unoriginal tin-can econoboxes. I don't doubt their quality, but they're ugly and have no class.

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By SpaceJumper on 12/3/2008 1:40:10 PM , Rating: 1
The class is Hybrid. You are comparing to the low efficiency hybrid Fusion. The Ford Escape hybrid for example consumes more fuel in real life driving than rated by Ford. The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight are actually have better real life mileage than rated.

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By JosefTor on 12/3/08, Rating: -1
RE: No Insight whatsoever
By spread on 12/4/2008 9:56:42 AM , Rating: 1
Nobody is forcing you to buy a car. There are plenty of gas guzzling SUVs that you can buy which have dropped in price right now.

Also, you do realize there is little difference between the Toyota hybrid and the Chevy hybrid. What makes a Toyota hybrid only for environmentalists, and the volt for the 'mainstream'.

Is it the fact that the Volt is more expensive? The fact that its cleaner since it can run only on batteries?

Or just that you're a dumbass.

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By KC7SWH on 12/3/2008 3:19:29 PM , Rating: 4
Ford doesn't do the fuel ratings the EPA does.

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By Spuke on 12/3/2008 4:57:44 PM , Rating: 2
The new 2010 Fusion Hybrid is supposed to get 5 mpg better in the city than the Camry Hybrid. It can also operate in all electric mode up to 47 mph. NONE of the current hybrids can do that. The expected range on this car is supposed to be 700 miles on one tank of gas!!!

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By walk2k on 12/3/2008 6:03:16 PM , Rating: 2
If Ford is still in business in 2010.

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By Nfarce on 12/3/2008 6:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
If Ford is still in business in 2010.

Oh don't worry, they will be - just like GM. American hard earned tax dollars confiscated by Washington politicians, both Democrat and Republican, will be ensure that.

Okay who's next up at the government watering hole? Corporate owned chain restaurants because people don't eat out as much any more? Corporate owned retailers because people don't shop as much? Hell, where's my car loan bailout? I demand my fair share of the pie!

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By foolsgambit11 on 12/3/2008 7:39:16 PM , Rating: 2
NONE of the current hybrids can do that.
Well, neither can the current Fusion. It's at least 9 months from release. What are the other car makers planning for the next year or two? (I'm just too lazy to do the research myself)

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By jhb116 on 12/4/2008 1:59:03 AM , Rating: 2
700 miles on a tank of gas - hmmmm - that's a long time to hold nature's call. Might have to carry an empty water bottle so I can drive that far without stopping. :)

RE: No Insight whatsoever
By Davelo on 12/4/2008 4:47:21 PM , Rating: 2
700 miles on a tank of gas - hmmmm - that's a long time to hold nature's call. Might have to carry an empty water bottle so I can drive that far without stopping. :)

The windshield washer tank has a hose going to the passenger compartment and doubles as a urinal. Only problem is your windshield develops a yellow tint. :)

They look the same but....
By rumptis on 12/3/2008 1:33:28 PM , Rating: 2
It's about aerodynamics...that's why they look the same.

I'm guessing if they could make it look totally different and it work as well and cost the same they would of.

RE: They look the same but....
By aapocketz on 12/3/2008 1:59:39 PM , Rating: 3
Well its a balance of aerodynamics and space and comfort. To maximize internal volume the car would look like a sphere. To maximize comfort the car may look like a cube (like houses do, or an old Cadillac maybe). To maximize aero it would look like a teardrop. This is simply the best compromise shape you can really come up with given the engineering constraints.

You could add a big spoiler and a fart can muffler to add sex appeal. Maybe a big battery scoop in the middle of the hood.

RE: They look the same but....
By TETRONG on 12/3/2008 2:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
RE: They look the same but....
By Entropy42 on 12/3/2008 3:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
I wish they'd had that Mazda3 out a year ago when I bought my Mazda6. I like it a lot better than the current Mazda3.

By tygrus on 12/4/2008 2:31:16 AM , Rating: 2
Fuel economy

At Idle: small ICE motor that doesn’t need much fuel to get a bang, switch to battery is even better for waiting.

On Highway: constant speed, aerodynamics, tire resistance, efficient engine at 2000rpm. Overall weight is a minor factor in itself (small affect on other factors). Battery becomes a burden once it’s range is exceeded, ICE is what matters.

In city: Stop-start is killed by weight unless you can convert&store&re-use momentum energy (regenerative braking with large battery). ICE motor becomes a burden on short trips that could just use battery power. Can the ICE be kept in the ideal rev range for efficiency during traffic (electric motor assist).
Efficient battery (size, weight, charging loss, charge/discharge current rate).

By Solandri on 12/4/2008 6:17:01 AM , Rating: 2
Gasoline engines typical for something the size of a car operate most efficiently at around 3500 rpm. That's been the big conundrum with car engines all this time. People wanted power for accelerating and passing, but that meant the engine was tremendously overpowered during cruise (which only requires about 25-30 hp). So you have cars with ICEs which are most efficient at 3500 rpm, but which are most often run at around 2000 rpm.

Hybrids solve that problem. You can put in a relative small ICE, just enough to power the car at cruise speed at 3500 rpm. The acceleration people want is provided by the electric motor. As a result, on most hybrids, the ICE is either off, or running at 3500 rpm. Nearly all the variation in power is supplied by the batteries and electric motor. The ICE is always running at its most efficient RPM when it is on.

As for aerodynamics, yes it's true that it doesn't matter as much in city driving. However, the way cars are sold, there are typically two big fuel efficiency numbers plastered on their window. One is estimated city mileage, the other is the highway mileage. A car being touted as fuel efficient needs to have a high highway mileage or it won't sell. It's necessary for marketability.

The U.S. also lists fuel efficiency backwards - in miles per gallon - creating an illusionary exaggerating effect at higher mpg. Say you drive 60 miles a day. In a 15 mpg SUV, you're burning 4 gal/day. If you switch to a 30 mpg sedan you're burning 2 gal/day - a net savings of 2 gal/day. If you switch from the 30 mpg sedan to the 60 mpg hybrid, you're burning 1 gal/day - a net savings of just 1 gal/day. So going from 30 -> 60 mpg actually represents half the fuel savings of going from 15 -> 30 mpg. But because the U.S. lists fuel economy in mpg, people think 15 -> 30 is "only" a 15 mpg improvement, while 30 -> 60 is a "wow! 30 mpg!" improvement. Because mpg is inverted, an X mpg improvement at 15 mpg is not equal to an X mpg improvement at 30 mpg.

So this also adds marketing pressure to raise the high end of mileage: An engine change that saves 10% in fuel at 25 mpg will "only" add 2.5 mpg (to 27.5 mpg). But the exact same change on a 50 mpg vehicle will add 5 mpg, even though it's actually saving you less fuel per trip.

Most other countries list mileage the other way to avoid this deceptiveness - in liters per 100 km. If your car uses 10 liters per 100km, a 10% more efficient engine would drop it to 9 - a 1 liter savings. The hybrid that uses 5 liters per 100 km drops to 4.5 with the same engine improvement - a 0.5 liter savings. So measured in liters per 100 km, it's obvious that the hybrid benefits less (in terms of $ saved on fuel) from the same improvement in fuel efficiency.

By Headfoot on 12/5/2008 9:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
Well liters per day wouldn't help American consumers very much would it? :)

By Headfoot on 12/5/2008 9:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
per 100km*

What's the big deal
By Suntan on 12/3/2008 1:27:31 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, but who really cares if the prius and the insight look similar? I mean really, its not like the overall shape of most sedans on the road are that much different.

In any case, similarities aside, I prefer the look of the Honda. The grill on the Prius (like the Yaris) gives an expression as if it just had a suppository inserted.


RE: What's the big deal
By PlasmaBomb on 12/3/2008 1:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
It wasn't a suppository, it was a rather large battery pack that was shoved up it ass...

By Shig on 12/3/2008 4:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
It could be a decent strategy. I mean the car is virtually identical minus the price, price wins. Nissan and Toyota are both great brand names already.

Are there any real key differences between these two cars other than price and maker?

RE: .
By Shig on 12/3/2008 4:12:02 PM , Rating: 2
woops, meant Honda instead of Nissan.

By beyazkeyat on 12/3/2008 4:42:34 PM , Rating: 2
the Cadillac of hybrids!

Gas Hogs
By FredEx on 12/5/2008 1:21:08 AM , Rating: 2
Check out http:\\ These guys so far have Neil Young's 2.5 ton 1959 Lincoln Continental getting 62 MPG.

A car does not need to look like a Prius to get higher mileage.

Hybrids in general are just dumb
By Headfoot on 12/5/2008 9:26:05 PM , Rating: 2
(Rhetorical question) Why are they still making these?

I can go buy a Honda CRX HF (yes its a coupe, but its also 20 years old) and get 40-45 MPG city and 50 MPG highway. And it's just an efficient gas powered car. Or I could buy a 95 Honda Civic VX and get 45-60 MPG with good maitenance and a couple basic modifications (Different O2 sensor that leans it out, different ECU if I am feeling crazy)

Hybrids are 100% marketing and feel-good ignorance. It isn't "greener" it isn't more efficient and they look and perform terrible. It just an easy way to make people feel like they are "doing good".

If a "VTEC" sticker adds 20hp...
By UNCjigga on 12/3/08, Rating: -1
RE: If a "VTEC" sticker adds 20hp...
By Xanthrick on 12/3/2008 1:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. Unfortunately the laws of aerodynamics come prepackaged with ugly sticks. *Sigh* and my physics professor said physics was beautiful... apparently he must be designing space ships.

By TETRONG on 12/3/2008 2:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Ever hear of Kelly Johnson, or the Coanda effect?

"Physics is beautiful" is most likely referring to the eloquent and concise solutions typically being the most accurate. Gell-Mann speak if you will.
Here's the talk

By andrinoaa on 12/3/2008 3:34:42 PM , Rating: 1
Why is everyone so gullible? Aerodynamics? Come on guys its a load of shit! They are just looking to minimise development costs. Same wind tunnel, same unimaginative engineers! You want aerodynamics, where are the flush wheels, cameras instead of mirrors and tear drop shape? All I see is an ugly clone.

RE: If a "VTEC" sticker adds 20hp...
By Spuke on 12/3/2008 5:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just aerodynamics. I've posted in previous discussions the aerodynamics of other vehicles that are close to the Prius but look MUCH better. Hybrid buyers are expecting the "hybrid look". This plays as great a part in design as aerodynamics and packaging.

By FITCamaro on 12/3/2008 2:20:35 PM , Rating: 1
Nah the new "VTEC" sticker for hybrids will be one with a cracked out bunny with the word "Energizer" on it.

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