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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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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...

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