Print 65 comment(s) - last by Spuke.. on Jan 29 at 1:31 PM

2010 Honda Insight

Honda CR-Z

2010 Toyota Prius
Honda still can't find the magic recipe to beat the Prius

When it comes to hybrid vehicles, it appears that Honda just can't catch a break. Its first generation Insight hybrid was the first such vehicle to hit American soil a decade ago, however, the vehicle was a sales failure. Honda went on to develop a Civic Hybrid which hasn't exactly been a Prius competitor in terms of sales and the company's Accord Hybrid, like the Insight before it, failed in the marketplace.

Honda looked to go after Toyota's Prius again with a larger, second generation Insight. However, Honda again ran into a brick wall. Honda managed to undercut the Prius by a few thousand dollars, but also did so with a much smaller vehicle that was not as fast, not as tech-laden, and not nearly as fuel efficient as the third-generation Prius. When it comes to actual vehicle sales, the numbers don't lie. Honda sold roughly 20,500 Insights during 2009 in the U.S. -- Toyota, on the other hand, sold nearly 140,000 Prius hybrids.

"Are we happy with how sales are going? No, we're not happy," said American Honda executive VP John Mendel.

Faced with the prospect of another dud in the hybrid marketplace, Honda chief Takanobu Ito is calling on his engineers to develop a vehicle that will "Out Prius" the Prius according to Automotive News. Ito wants a hybrid that will be able to exceed the stellar fuel economy ratings of Toyota's crown jewel. Toyota's Prius is rated at 50 mpg (city/highway combined) while the smaller Insight is rated at just 41 mpg (city/highway combined).

"We want to develop and expand our hybrids," said Ito earlier this month in Detroit. "We made some major sacrifices to shift people and resources to do that."

While Honda looks like it will have its hands full developing a vehicle to topple the Prius, it has also just launched a new "sporty" hybrid aimed at enthusiasts. The CR-Z can be had with a manual transmission, but fuel economy junkies should be warned -- choosing to the manual will result in a serious hit to city fuel economy. A CR-Z equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be rated at 36/38 mpg (city/highway). Opting for the six-speed manual transmission, however, will cut those numbers to 31/37 mpg.

For comparison, a Mini Cooper (six-speed manual) gets 28/37 mpg without the need for hybrid components.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

New Insight
By marvdmartian on 1/25/2010 8:47:18 AM , Rating: 2
While the points made are true, one of the things that also hurt the Insight's sales is the fact that it was named after the original hybrid of the same name. To the government, that made it a second generation vehicle, and not really eligible for much (if any) of a tax break, since it had been on the market for so long. Giving it a new name would have given a bigger tax break, and possibly increased sales (at least a little). However, it still wasn't a well thought out or designed vehicle, especially for Honda, who normally pride themselves in that area.

Oh, and a 17% hit in city economy probably won't prevent most enthusiasts from getting the manual trannie.

RE: New Insight
By Pneumothorax on 1/25/2010 9:06:28 AM , Rating: 2
by marvdmartian on January 25, 2010 at 8:47 AM
Oh, and a 17% hit in city economy probably won't prevent most enthusiasts from getting the manual trannie.

No, but it's anemic performance might... This car is a sporty poseur hybrid. Even for a "green enthusiast" there are better alternatives... Let's see a VW TDI get's the similar fuel economy without hybrid drawbacks, is cheaper, holds 5 people instead of 2, and it's even faster...

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki