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Honda Insight in blue, Toyota Prius in red  (Source: Motor Trend)

Toyota Prius interior

Honda Insight interior
Honda's Insight brings a knife to a gunfight

Honda has been touting its second generation Insight as a worthy competitor to the Toyota Prius. In the real world, however, sales aren't quite backing up those statements.  The Insight is indeed a worthy competitor to the second generation Prius, but Honda is quickly finding out that it doesn't quite have the firepower to go up against the new third-generation Prius -- at least in the U.S. market.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Honda sold just 2,079 Insights during the month of June in the U.S. while Toyota was able to move a whopping 12,998 Prius hybrids. Since the Insight's introduction in March of this year, Honda has sold a total of 7,524 vehicles -- Toyota, however, has managed to move over 40,000 of its “green” icon. Honda is not expected to meet its sales goal of 90,000 Insights for 2009.

"We're all pretty disappointed. We thought we had the next hit on our hands," said Don Marino, Honda of Santa Monica's General Manager.

"Honda just hasn't had a cogent hybrid strategy at all," added Eric Noble, president of research firm Car Lab.

Honda's Insight does have a few characteristics which can win over consumers. It has a lower price tag than the Prius and more nimble handling. However, the Prius offers better fuel economy (50 mpg combined for the Prius versus 41 mpg combined for the Insight), is larger (the Prius is rated as a midsize vehicle, the Insight is a compact), is faster in acceleration runs, and offers more technology/options to pamper its driver and passengers.

Things are expected to get even worse for Honda when Toyota introduces its "stripper" Prius later this year. The current base Prius has an MSRP of $22,000 compared to $19,800 for the Insight. However, the price of entry for the Prius will drop to $21,000 with the new model in September making the price delta even smaller.



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Don't forget the Fusion Hybrid
By boobot on 7/30/2009 11:50:23 AM , Rating: 2
Ford Fusion Hybrid : June 2009 - 2,244 units and I believe they are scaling much higher in the month of July in sales. 2nd best selling hybrid in June but still far behind the Prius.

It is a bit more expensive and bigger than both the Prius and Honda but rated fairly well in mpgs 41/36 city/hwy. Many reports of owners getting much more than 40mpg mix driving. Not bad Ford, not bad!




RE: Don't forget the Fusion Hybrid
By Yawgm0th on 7/30/2009 12:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
You beat me to it. The Prius and Honda are too weak and too ugly. The Fusion is a much more appealing car to me, but it needs a price drop.

And yes, everything I've seen and heard is that the average mpg is usually in the low-to-mid-forties, and higher for city travel.

I am a little concerned about how it would do in the winter here (Minneapolis/Saint Paul), between being a mid-size sedan and the catalytic converter. But I wouldn't even consider taking a Prius or Insight out on an unplowed road here.


RE: Don't forget the Fusion Hybrid
By FITCamaro on 7/30/2009 2:03:42 PM , Rating: 2
Why would the cat be a problem?


RE: Don't forget the Fusion Hybrid
By Yawgm0th on 7/30/2009 7:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
It has to run the ICE longer to heat it up and remain within emissions standards. In fact, the Fusion will do poorly on any really short trip.

At least, that is what I've read in reviews, and it makes sense.


By Alexstarfire on 7/30/2009 9:16:18 PM , Rating: 2
Really short trips kill MPG in all cars, not just hybrids. I do think hybrids have it a bit worse though.

Ohh, and while I've never driven my Prius in a Minnesota winter I have driven it when we had several inches of snow on the road. And this is in Atlanta so there's no snow plows or salt down here. Only place I had trouble handling the Prius was at an intersection where the snow had been pressed into ice. Slid for a second, but that was it. In fact, I probably drove faster than EVERYBODY else on the road. For some reason they all thought a bit of snow meant to drive 50% of the speed limit in their SUVs.


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