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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.

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