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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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By steven975 on 7/30/2009 12:03:53 PM , Rating: 2
My S2000 can also maintain 30mpg on the highway at 70 with the engine turning 4000rpm with the AC on (and, no, it is not terribly loud or bad for the motor...it is probably it's most optimal RPM range for economy).

I think Honda's mild hybrid strategy was the better one...10 years ago. I also think they would have better US fuel economy with a larger displacement engine, too. Of course, that drives up taxes outside the US.

Honda's basically bet on fuel cells, and they're probably the furthest along of all MFRs...but that's a big bet as I don't see H2 fuel stations happening any time soon.

IMO, I think Toyota's got a new battery tech up their sleeve that will blow Li-Ion away.


By FITCamaro on 7/30/2009 2:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
Damn 4K at 70 mph? I mean yeah I know it revs to like 11K but still.


By mcnabney on 7/30/2009 9:43:26 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding. I know the S2000 revs high, but I would guess around 2300-2600 at 70. I don't think I have ever owned any vehicle that travels slower than 90 at 4000.


By Jimbo1234 on 7/30/2009 10:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
I test drove an S2000 in 2002, and it had no power whatsoever until it got up to 4K RPM. It was like driving with a realy poorly designed turbo engine, minus the turbo. I like my torque at any RPM. The S2000 required constant shifting to make it drivable. My S4 twin turbo on the other hand... pick a gear, any gear, mash on the gas, and hold on.


By Sazabi19 on 7/31/2009 3:52:07 PM , Rating: 2
I have an '08 Saturn Aura and i still get 30ish mpg doing 70 (about 2.5k rpm) and i still have another gear somewhere after about 80 or 85 (only get it when i step on it to pass some slow person on a contry bumpkin road). I only paid about 24k for it (4 cyl. 2.4L) and i think i get pretty good mileage on it, about 28mpg avg with 70 city/ 30 hwy. I try not to floor it and i do coast quite a bit and flutter the pettle, but i do love my car and it drives very well (also has a slight luxury feel with the 'wood grain' and nice colors and other accessories i got with it). I'm just not sure paying the extra money for it being a hybrid will pay for the gas, i only plan on having a car for about 3-5 yrs at a time. If you want to go 'green' though i have no problem with it, it's a good idea and has the potential to save money/gas/emissions. It's a step in the right direction but i personally think its just a tad bit too expensive for the trade-offs. Lower the prices on them and i bet they sell a whole lot more.


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