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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.

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By Lord 666 on 1/25/2010 9:21:43 AM , Rating: 2
1. Start with a diesel around 1.8 - 2.0 liters. Maybe go for the 2.4l diesel to save time.

2. Connect it to an improved version of Honda's hybrid configuration that can drive the vehicle entirely on battery up to 40 miles per hour

3. Put # 1 and #2 in an Accord body.

For extra credit, dump the newly introduced cross over.

By Penti on 1/26/2010 7:05:31 PM , Rating: 2
Volkswagen actually did have the VW Lupo 3L that sold between 99 and 2005 and only used 3 liters per 100 kilometers or 78 miles per US gallon. Building a fuel efficient car is not that hard. Now days the Volvo V50 DRIVe diesel use 3.9 liters per 100 km. The Fords do just as well in Europe with diesel the focus is on the same platform as the C30/V50 even (as it's the same engine basically which is also found in Peugeot, Citroën and Mazda).

The Prius is what? 50 miles per US gallon combined, gasoline of course, so diesel would be 11% more energy rich which should be factored in. To get the same efficiency on diesel you should at least have ~60 mpg. The European diesels do around that. But the Prius do better in city driving. So it would be better for Smog and local pollutants.

Most of the world wouldn't need 2-2.4 liter engines. In Germany for example the Golf is the most sold car and one of the most sold cares in the world (which is a better representation of Europe then my country where Volvo V70 sells best). Cars like Combi Opels might have 1.6l in none economic engines, 1.3l for their ecoflex models. A hybrid engine is a engine by it's own. It's in the engine the hybrid drive is integrated. The Accord isn't a extremely large car, it shouldn't need more then 1.8l. But I would guess (rightly) the civic is way more popular any way. The real world uses more of those :)

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