The new Honda Insight will debut next month at the 2008 Paris motor show, giving everyone an early look at Honda’s Prius-fighter.
Taking its name from the pioneering hybrid that Honda introduced in 1999, the new Insight demonstrates how far hybrids have come both technologically and in their acceptance in the marketplace. Whereas the first two-seat, 70 mpg highway Insight was something of a halo vehicle meant to show Honda’s achievements in fuel saving technology, the new Insight has decidedly populist aims. Honda says it will be the most affordable hybrid on the market, thanks to some cost reduction in its Integrated Motor Assist technology. It plans to sell 200,000 Insights a year – a full 100,000 of them in North America. It will be built at Honda’s Suzuka, Japan factory, sharing a production line with the Civic Hybrid. With the Insight and Civic, as well as the CR-Z sporty hybrid it plans to introduce, Honda hopes to sell 500,000 hybrids a year, making up more than 10 percent of its total vehicle sales.
Honda says the Insight borrows many of its styling cues from the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle. That may be true, but looking at the five door hatch, there is no mistaking another primary influence on the vehicle: the Toyota Prius.
Honda has not released specifics on the pricing, other than to say it will launch with pricing “significantly below hybrids available today.” This includes the Prius, which currently carries an MSRP of $22,720.