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We know that Honda has gone to great lengths in engineering the Insight in the pursuit of low emissions levels, but just how low have they actually achieved?

There are two major categories of vehicle emissions that people are concerned about:

  • Air polluting compounds that contribute to smog and are health hazards

    These are the compounds measured by the various emissions standards. The Insight is certified to meet the ULEV (Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle) standard when sold in California and some other U.S. states. We aren't aware of any differences in the car itself as sold elsewhere.

    As the chart below shows, independent measurements have been done on the Insight, which show that it is far better than the ULEV (and even SULEV) standard in some aspects, while being just about exactly at the ULEV level in hydrocarbon emissions. Note: This chart applies to the ULEV Insight. The CVT Insight is available with SULEV-certified emissions.

    Technology in the Insight that allows it to achieve these levels include:

    • Careful computer control over fuel injection and ignition timing.
    • The VTEC-E valve system, which produces a high degree of swirl for very complete combustion.
    • The head/exhaust manifold/catalytic converter configuration that allows the primary catalytic converter to get up to operating temperatures quickly.
    • The second (NOx absorptive) catalytic converter designed for lean-burn conditions.
    • The various technologies that lead to a reduction of the total amount of fuel burnt.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions believed to contribute to global warming

Carbon dioxide is the primary "greenhouse gas" of concern in vehicle emissions. Carbon dioxide emission levels are not currently measured by most emissions standards.

The amount of carbon dioxide produced is directly proportional to the amount of fuel burned. As such, it is the Insight's superior fuel efficiency that allows it to achieve the lowest level of CO2 emissions ever achieved by a mass-produced car.

 

Insight Emissions Levels
Category Smog-Causing Compounds Greenhouse Gas
Hydrocarbons Carbon Monoxide Nitrogen Oxides Particulate Matter Carbon Dioxide
TOG (1)
g/km (g/mi)
NMOG (2)
g/km (g/mi)
CO (3)
g/km (g/mi)
NOx (4)
g/km (g/mi)
PM (5)
g/km (g/mi)
CO2 (6)
g/km (g/mi)
Insight Emissions Level, According to Honda ULEV
(as certified in California and some other U.S. states)
80 (129)
Insight as Independently Tested on Dynamometer 0.03 (.05) 0.12 (0.2) None detected - -
Comparison to Various Car Emissions Standards
Category Smong-Causing Compounds Greenhouse Gas
Hydrocarbons Carbon Monoxide Nitrogen Oxides Particulate Matter Carbon Dioxide
TOG (1)
g/km (g/mi)
NMOG (2)
g/km (g/mi)
CO (3)
g/km (g/mi)
NOx (4)
g/km (g/mi)
PM (5)
g/km (g/mi)
CO2 (6)
g/km (g/mi)
Pre-standards
(1970)
5.5 (8.8) 54 (86) 2.2 (3.5) ? ?
TLEV (7) - 0.097 (0.156) 2.6 (4.2) 0.37 (0.6) 0.024 (0.04) -
LEV (8) - 0.056 (0.090) 2.6 (4.2) 0.04 (0.07) 0.006 (0.01) -
ULEV (9) - 0.034 (0.055) 1.3 (2.1) 0.04 (0.07) 0.006 (0.01) -
SULEV (10) - 0.006 (0.010) 0.6 (1.0) 0.01 (0.02) 0.006 (0.01) -
Canada 1975
standards
1.2 (1.9) 16 (26) 1.93 (3.19) - -
Canada 1987
standards
0.25 (0.4) 2.1 (3.38) 0.62 (1.0) - -
Canada 1997
standards
0.25 (0.4) 0.16 (0.26) 2.1 (3.38) 0.25 (0.4) 0.05 (0.08) -
 

Notes:

  1. Total organic gases (hydrocarbons)
  2. Non-methane organic gases (hydrocarbons)
  3. Carbon monoxide
  4. Nitrogen oxides
  5. Particulate matter, 2.5 microns and less. A health hazard, such particles are major contributor to smog.
  6. Carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a non-toxic "greenhouse gas".
  7. Transitionary low emissions vehicle. This is considered to be "50% cleaner" than was the 1999 minimum new car standard in California.
  8. Low emissions vehicle. This is considered to be "70% cleaner" than California's 1999 basic new car standard.
  9. Ultra-low emissions vehicle. This is considered to be "85% cleaner" than California's 1999 minimum new car standard. In 1999, 5 models available in California met these standards. They were the natural gas Ford Crown Victoria, the gasoline Honda Accord EX/LX sedan, the gasoline Honda Accord EX/LX coupe, the natural gas Honda Civic GX, and the gasoline Mazda Protégé.
  10. Super-ultra-low emissions vehicle.
 
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