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Honda Expands on 2010 Vision, Says Goodbye to the Insight

18 May 2006

by Jack Rosebro

Insight
The Insight rides into the sunset.

Adding to the vision set forth by Honda CEO Takeo Fukui during his mid-year speech delivered earlier this week (earlier post), Honda executives provided additional details on the path that Honda has chosen for the future, including the disclosure that production of Honda’s first hybrid, the Insight, would end this year.

A Honda representative said that the company would end production of the iconic Insight hybrid in September. Introduced in December of 1999, the Insight was the first mass-produced hybrid sold in America, beating the Toyota Prius to the North American market by a matter of months.

Early 5-speed Insights which were shipped to the US without air conditioning garnered a 70 mpg EPA highway fuel economy rating. Current production Insights equipped with manual transmissions and A/C are rated at 66 MPG highway/60 MPG city.

The Insight has thus maintained Honda’s title as maker of the most fuel-efficient passenger car sold in America as measured by EPA fuel economy ratings, a distinction long enjoyed by a succession of Honda models beginning in the 1970s.

However, Honda never aggressively marketed the Insight, which was regarded as a “halo car” by many industry observers—a vehicle designed more to burnish its maker’s image than to produce profits.

Sales of the vehicle never rose above 1,000 per month, and usually remained below 100 per month over the last two years as the vehicle was relegated to availability only by special order.

Last year, an inventor, Mike Dabrowski, introduced an open-source kit called MIMA (Manual Integrated Motor Assist), which allows the driver to manually override the Insight’s software that controls the dynamic relationship between the vehicle’s two power sources (earlier post). Users reported around 15% gains in fuel economy during normal driving.

Ramping Up US Production. Expanding on Honda’s announcement of a new manufacturing plant in the US, which Fukui pledged would have the smallest environmental footprint of any Honda plant in North America, Honda manufacturing executive Larry Jutte said that the company was “in the final phases of the due diligence process” preceding the selection of the site for its planned US plant in the Midwest.

Honda executives also quashed rumors of a hybridized version of the Fit (earlier post), a subcompact recently introduced to the North American market, and confirmed that the company’s new hybrid-specific platform, due in 2009, would be smaller and significantly cheaper than the current Civic. Honda has set a yearly production target of 100,000 for the new model, which will be built at its Suzuka plant in Japan.

May 18, 2006 in Hybrids, Vehicle Manufacturers | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

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"Honda executives also quashed rumors of a hybridized version of the Fit (earlier post), a subcompact recently introduced to the North American market"

I think that's pretty important. Any more details on it?

That would really be too bad, especially after some Edmunds contact confirmed it in Inside Line.. I had my hopes up.

The dedicated hybrid certainly is good news, but it's only for 2009.

Damn. I was really looking forward to one of those FITs.

I'm guessing they want the impetus on expanding the Civic HB line. Meh.

What? No Honda bashing?

Despite the end of the Insight, Honda still sells a 4-door, 4-passenger car which gets over 40 MPG... unlike another company people are talking about.

Picture this... 2008

Honda has just TWO hybrids out, the excellent hybrid Civic and the not so excellent hybrid Accord. Sorry the news is in, the Insight is canceled, the Crv and Fit will not be going hybrid and Honda's next new hybrid out in 2009.

Toyota will be the king of hybrids as it is now. The next Prius is going to be over 70mpg and they will be selling six or seven full hybrids

GM will be the US leader in hybrids. The Saturn Vue will be selling in large numbers, the Malibu will be out and the large hybrid system will be available in both pickup trucks and SUV's accross GM's brands.

I always thought this car was a bit on the ugly side, but still, what an excellent car for its purpose! The first hybrid in N.A. An icon. The insight is to hybrids what the Austrian Oak was to bodybuilding.

This news (about the insight and no fit hybrid) stinks!!! C'mon Honda, what'up??? I'm filing a complaint! They better have something real good cooking up that they will throw at us suddenly and without warning. I demand a snarling prius killer! Keep the competition going, don't give Toyota the edge temporarily: then they'll just get fat heads & charge more money.

The Insight will become a classic, like 356 Porsches. Snap 'em up now while you've got a chance.

Welcome everyone, to the world of automotive economics. Honda is pulling the plug due to low sales. It probably had a pretty low profit margin in it anyway. Everyone bashes GM, but they pulled the plug likewise on their EV1 due to the same reasons, low sales and little, or no, profits.

Honda still has highly fuel efficient models, as well as inovative thinking in regards to at home hydrogen generation. If they are pulling the plug on this, lets hope something better is on its way. Automakers seek efficiency in their cars, and also in their manufacturing processes. I would like more details on their new manufacturing plant, and its supposed "smallest environmental footprint". What is that? Can we all learn something from that?

I know there are not high sales with the insight right now, but my understanding was there was much demand for the EV1 and when it was killed there was a magnificent hue and cry raised by many people. Am I wrong on this?

Didn't GM basically crush the EV1's to make a power statement to CARB along the mature lines of: "nah nah, can't get me now"? I could see why they would stop making them if they weren't required to anymore, that's one thing: but to recall the cars already made and in happy homes and crush the life out of them? What an incredible display of petty and assinine stupidity! Notice: Honda is not recalling and crushing insights now. They're smarter than that.

Sorry, I just didn't see the comparison being legitimate in every way between the cancellation (and demolition!) of the EV1 and the insight.

If Honda puts the same powertrain in Civic LX model and sells without any jazzy stuff of just 18K, it will outsell every other hybrid model.

Nothing is lost, Honda can still make Civic-Hybrid a Star. Anyidea as how many Insights were sold.
I guess they sold around
Units - Year
2500 - 2000
4500 - 2001
3500 - 2002
2000 - 2003

in USA.

Well that stinks.
I was going to upgrade my Insight in an other 2 years to a new model... now it it looks like it'll be the most economic car on the road for an other 10 years at least. Guess I'll just upgrade the IMA motor and install MIMA.

The good news is that US law requires Honda to have replacement parts, engines, and transmissions available for at least an other 10 years.

Lets see:

GM LEASED the EV1 to people (meaning NO ONE owned the car other than GM).

Honda SOLD the Insight to people (meaning, once paid for ownership transferred from Honda to the bank or other purchaser).

Do you see the difference? Of course you won't see Honda recalling Insights...they don't own them anymore once they leave the lot unlike the EV1. Why did GM crush the EV1? I don't know, but I wanted to point out the enormous difference here between the ownership of EV1s and Insights.

GM only leased the EV1 because it did not pass the current crash safety tests when it was sold. It was in design phase for so long that by time it was released the safety standards had changed. Instead of doing a redesign, GM was able to aquire a temporary waiver, and lease the vehicles for testing purposes. When the waiver ended GM had the legal responsibility to reclaim and render the frames unuseable. I'm sure that the bad publicity GM got for crushing the EV1s was nothing compared to the headlines that would have been made if GM shouted "BUT THE GOVERNMENT SAYS WE HAVE TO TAKE THEM BACK BECAUSE THEY ARE UNSAFE IN A CRASH".
NOTE: I don't think the EV1s were unsafe at all, they just didn't follow CURRENT fedaral guidelines.

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