Hybrids Electrics Hydrogen Cars
Honda has released the first images of its upcoming 2009 Insight hybrid, expected to be the least expensive hybrid car available in the U.S. when it hit showrooms in the Spring. The car, according to Autoblog Green, “looks almost identical to the concept that appeared at Paris and LA this fall. In fact, aside from the bar under the grille being body colored instead of chrome and the conventional halogens replacing the LED headlights, it’s pretty much spot on.” That concept looked remarkably like the current Toyota Prius.
The Insight will make its first appearance to the press and the public at the Detroit Auto Show next month.
The U.K.’s Autocar notes, “The teaser picture doesn’t show the Insight hybrid’s rear styling, but judging by the slightly less sloping roofline and shorter rear overhang, the boot will no longer feature a lower window positioned between the rear lights.”
That lower window was presumably intended to solve the rear visibility problems that have bothered some Prius owners.
Washington, D.C.’s Examiner reports, “the Insight will use the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist) introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in the Honda Insight Concept. Eco Assist rewards drivers with supportive visual cues, including a speedometer background that fades from green (for most economical operation) to blue (for least efficient driving).”
The most crucial performance figure for any hybrid – fuel economy – still has not been revealed. The insight is said to share most of its hybrid components with the Honda Civic Hybrid, which has an EPA rating of 40/45 mpg. But with its low-resistance teardrop shape, it may manage better mileage numbers.
Final pricing has also not been disclosed, but Honda has said the Insight will probably cost under $19,000 – significantly undercutting the Prius, which begins at $22,000 and easily climbs to toward $30,000 when fully equipped.
Australia’s Motor Report speculates, “If the Honda can match the Prius in function and reliability, and manages to hold its price advantage, Toyota may have a real battle on its hands. They’re so darn similar that badge loyalty may be the only defining factor. At the very least, the price-leading Insight may help push down the cost of hybrids to ‘conventional car’ levels.”
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