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Honda Reveals Insight Concept Hybrid at Paris; Jazz, CRZ-Derivative Hybrids to Follow

The Insight concept. Click to enlarge.

Honda revealed a concept version of its new small hybrid-only vehicle, the new Insight, at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. (Earlier post.) The new Insight marks the return of a dedicated hybrid to the Honda model line-up and the start of a new phase of Honda’s hybrid strategy—the Insight is the first of three new hybrid models that will appear within the next four years.

Honda also plans for upcoming launches of a new sporty hybrid based on the CRZ and a Jazz Hybrid, as well as a new version of the Civic Hybrid. Honda is planning global sales of more than 500,000 units per year with its four hybrids, said Takeo Fukui, president and chief executive officer of Honda Motor Co, at the reveal.

The Insight is targeted to deliver fuel consumption on a par with the Civic Hybrid, but at a significantly reduced price. The weight and size of the new Insight IMA hybrid drivetrain, combining a 1.3-liter engine and electric motor, has been significantly reduced, Fukui said.

This new Insight represents the further advance of our concept of offering a hybrid for everyone. We have further reduced the weight and size of the hybrid system. And we have improved and strengthened our production system to further reduce the cost of our hybrid system.

While we continue to view the FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle as the ultimate solution, we will position Insight as an environmentally-responsible vehicle available to everyone now. The mass-production Insight will go on sale in Europe, Japan, and North America in spring 2009 with expected annual global sales of 200,000 units.

—Takeo Fukui

The concept will make its US debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and Honda plans to unveil the mass-production model of the Insight next January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Year-to-date, Honda has sold 10,507 hybrids in Europe.



"we continue to view the FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle as the ultimate solution"

Honda, unlike most of the other manufacturers, don't have an active lithium-ion research programme. There's a good chance they're going to get left behind when it comes to mass-market PHEVs.

richard schumacher

I thought Honda was smarter than this. Part of the value of a Prius is the high reliability of the power-split device, which replaces the conventional multi-speed transmission. Every car maker should be working on their own version or license it from Toyota. Even in an all-electric or fuel cell vehicle such a device might be used, to combine the outputs of two electric motors for greater reliability and extended torque/speed range.

Civic Hybrid fuel consumption at a less than Civic Hybrid price?


Anyone notice that it looks just like the Volt. I just put the pictures side by side, they are almost identical.


Honda has a machine to reform natural gas to hydrogen. They should sell it to customer along their hydrogen cars. I know it might be pricy at first but if they continue they can start a trend and like everything the prices will come down.


>> The Insight is targeted to deliver fuel consumption on a par with the Civic Hybrid, but at a significantly reduced price. <<

Ummm, Honda, what is going on? Reduced weight, smaller vehicle, more aerodynamically designed...this should have significantly improved mileage over the Civic Hybrid (like 10mpg or so), not equal. What a disappointment.

Maybe this is Honda low balling the mileage on purpose?

I don't see where the performance of the new insight is a big deal if it matches the hybrid civic, why because they say that is will cost alot less this is a big deal out there for people in the $15k to $20k price range but I have a filling they want to sell the new insight between $12k an $15k and if so this will be the first good MPG hybrid that the lower middle class can afford.
This along with other companies coiming out with EV's will bring change faster. JMHO


I thought Honda was smarter too. Fuel cells should be dead unless someone discovers a low energy way to create hydrogen. There is too much thermal inefficiency. Fuel cells give off heat, creating the hydrogen gives off heat and byproducts, and compressing the gas gives off heat. So what if it burns clean! Electricity is the most efficient fuel especially when you generate it with renewable energy.


After fumbling the ball, Honda is back in the game.
This vehicle hits the "sweet spot": a Prius for less than a Prius.

As we all know here at GCC - a "Concept" is pure vaporware until we see a real prototype on the road. And by the time they finish meeting CARB and safety in the US - the $15k car becomes a $25k car.


Sasparilla, "on par" isn't really a strict term, so I wouldn't give up hope on it having a good 5-10mpg increase over a HCH at 42mpg combined.


Every time there's news on the Tesla Roadster, the Whitestar, Fisker Karma or any other high end EV or PHEV people complain that there's nothing for the masses. Now there is and they say so what. If this thing is big enough, fast enough, and actually looks good, then they'll sell a lot of them in the US.


Yes they will sell a fair few in the US, but it is laughable that they even bothered to release it at the Paris show, given that a bog standard Auris 1.4D4D, 308 1.6Hdi, C4 1.6Hdi, Golf 1.6TDi, Leon 1.6TDi, Megane 1.6Cdi, Focus 1.6CDTi, the list is endless, are all cheap alternatives to the new Insight and in most cases give better fuel economy.


I have been hearing that the Paris show has been a bit gloomy, with all the economic news. BMW is saying that 2009 may be a worse year than 2008 for them. They can all see this coming and should plan accordingly.


This car is significantly larger than a Civic- it's Prius-sized. They are proud of being able to make a car one size up from the Civic Hybrid that costs less and gets the same economy.

They reduced the weight and size *of the hybrid components* and have made significant inroads against the price. That's how they can plan to sell 200,000 a year, which is huge in comparison to Honda's total hybrid sales today. I'd say it's fair for them to be proud, but the proof will be in the sales.

If you really wanted the Civic Hybrid to be better, these improvements will no doubt be applied to the next one, giving it better economy and lower cost.

Roger Pham

If Honda can really achieve equal efficiency with reduced hybrid components, it would indeed be a miracle. The Civic Hybrid is already a mild hybrid, with much smaller battery and electric motor than the Prius, and of course, resulting in the Civic Hybrid having less fuel efficiency than the Prius with slower acceleration.

Perhaps Honda have some tricks up their sleeves with respect to ICE technology like valve control, friction reduction, and improve transmission efficiency, and weight reduction...?


@richard schumacher:

Indeed, the Honda hybrid strategy only adds components, thus increasing complexity. The smart thing about the Prius is that Toyota REPLACED components, thus reducing mechanical complexity. The things that were tossed out are the gearbox and clutch, not the most reliable parts of a car.


-Wes in your response to Sasparilla, if the new Insight is in fact Prius-sized as you maintain then its IMA performance can be fairly compared to the current Prius HSD.
My conclusion is that around town and for general taxi service the Prius will still prove the more economical but for significant hiway driving the Honda will have the edge.
I might add that I used to be one of those who suscribed to the conventional theory that the HSD excels on the hiway as well as in town. It turns out when you run the numbers with 95% conversions factored in - that it doesn't.
And now the Gen III Prius will be coming with its 1.8L against the Honda with its 1.3L to make the following year quite interesting.

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