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http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=101529

Quote:


Honda to stay with slow-selling Insight, says hybrid SUV not in 3-year plan

YUZO YAMAGUCHI | Automotive News
Posted Date: 1/4/05

TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. has no plans to remodel the poor-selling Insight hybrid.

But it has no plans to kill the two-seater, either, says President Takeo Fukui, because it is the most fuel-efficient car sold in the United States.

"That's an image car with the top fuel economy," he says.

The Insight's U.S. November sales numbered only 5, down from 39 a year earlier. For the 11 months of last year, Honda sold only 575 Insights, a plunge from 1,124 in the year-ago period.

The car was launched in 1999 to demonstrate Honda's fuel-saving technology. It is powered by an electric motor and a three-cylinder gasoline-powered engine.

With a five-speed manual transmission, the Insight achieves 61 mpg in the city and 66 mpg on the highway. That tops the Toyota Prius' 60 mpg in the city and 51 on the highway.

The Prius, which was launched in 2000, has been embraced by environmentally conscious Americans. In the first 11 months of this year, Toyota sold 47,704 Prius units in the United States, more than double the number sold in the same period of the previous year.

Hybrid SUV not in 3-year plan

Unlike Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. has no plans to build hybrid SUVs in the next three years.

"For now, we are not thinking about it" for the three-year plan starting in April, says Honda President Takeo Fukui.

SUV owners care little about fuel economy, Fukui says. "If they look for fuel efficiency," he says, "they could shift to a car."

Fuel-efficient hybrids use gasoline- or diesel-powered engines teamed with an electric motor.

Honda sells the Insight, the company's first hybrid, and hybrid versions of the Accord and Civic.

Fukui added that a hybrid powertrain is "an extremely expensive system," and that Honda can devise cheaper alternatives to save fuel in vehicles. For example, the Odyssey and the hybrid Accord use cylinder deactivation. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine runs on all six cylinders when accelerating and three when cruising.

Honda's reluctance to offer hybrid SUVs contrasts with Toyota's plans. The Lexus RX 400h hybrid is scheduled to go on sale April 15, and the Toyota Highlander hybrid is scheduled to go on sale in June.
 

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I have to say, I'm a little surprised that Honda will not be putting a hybrid powertrain in a CRV any time soon. I figured that since that vehicle is essentially a Civic platform that they'd probably be putting a hybrid engine in it for the '08 model year (seems like they've been introducing a new hybrid every three years or so, Insight in '99, HCH in '02, Accord Hybrid in '05). That seems also to be a good time because if I'm correct in my timelines, that would be the year Honda would bring out the 3rd generation CRV or maybe the 2nd year of the 3rd generation. Just speculation of course. Maybe the article is intentionally shifting focus away from potential Honda hybrid SUV's so that Honda does not seem to be following Toyota.

As for no Insight replacement, that's kinda a bummer too. At least they basically said that production, albeit at a trickle, will continue for the Insight. At least until Toyota decides to maximize the Prius or something else to best the Insight's chart topping mileage. Once someone knocks the Insight from the top of the mileage heap I would imagine at that time production would end.
 
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Hi Rai Ka:

___Thank you for the link … I have also read recent Honda press releases that mention all Hondas after MY 2005 will have Side and Curtain air bags? Now if the above is true, I wonder how they are going to accomplish this feat in an Insight without major redesign?

___In regards to SUV’s, I as well as many other Honda enthusiasts were almost positive the new Acura RDX had a good shot at using the AH’s drivetrain? Honda might be about ready to get their head taken off as VCM is not showing the promise of increased FE that many had hoped for from the preliminary AH owner’s postings. It works and works well from a smoothness standpoint but balancing those 3-cylinder with AM’s and ANC to cover up the sound is not cheap either let alone how IMA helps maintain 3-cylinder operation with slight changes in load vs. a stomp of the gas pedal?

___I don’t know if you have read of Ford’s - Mercury Meta-One technology test bed but if the numbers present themselves as I think they will, this PZEV rated Diesel-Hybrid will not only achieve AH like performance and close to similar FE, it will do so in a Crossover SUV that will cost very similar to what Acura sells the MDX for today. This is not even considering the Volvo inspired Active Avoidance that the Meta-One is currently equipped with. Of course this automobile is a technology demonstrator but the way Ford has been revving up; they cannot afford not to jump ahead with their world-class and patented Diesel power and emissions tech now that they have a means to deliver the power, efficiency, and cleanliness through a hybrid drivetrain. As long as the EPA mandated LSD does actually appear in all 50 states in just 1.5 years that is.

2005 Detroit: Mercury's Meta One sport wagon concept for Detroit showcases advances

___Of course I am a little biased given the Ford Ranger P/U’s FE performance and utility as of late as well as the fact that Ford has been a part of my family and now my locale for quite some time. As I mentioned in the other thread, if the Meta-One becomes available at anywhere near what Acura receives for the MDX, my wife’s MDX will be removed from our fleet post haste given the sickening 17 mpg she has been achieving back and forth to work over the last month or so :evil:

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:g7n1dao0][email protected][/email:g7n1dao0]
 

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That it is just crazy. I cannot believe there is not going to be a redesign. Smoke and Mirrors?

There was a recent newspaper article in the UK (Sunday Times) about the highest and lowest selling vehicles in the UK during 2004. The bottom three read:

Honda Insight - 2 !!!!
£150,000/$270,000 Supercar (can't remember which one) - 2
Honda Legend - 1 ?!?
 

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saying it again...

Comparing the Insight with the Prius is really apples and oranges. Really the only thing they have in common market-wise is both are hatchbacks. The Prius has a big-car, SUV look, evoking the horrendously-ugly Pontiac Aztek.

But more importantly, it's a four-seater, and the Insight is not. Even single, childfree people I know wouldn't own a two-seater.

I'd find comparing Insight sales numbers with those of the CRX in mid- to late-eighties more interesting. Or perhaps with other two-seaters on the market, such as the Miata.
 

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I think that is great news for every Insight owner.

I believe the Toyota Prius is maxed out for efficiency, which considering its 3,000 pound weight is astounding. Toyota has nothing to gain financially by building an Insight clone. Honda has little to gain building an Escape clone.

Perhaps we should look for an Accura hybrid?
 

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This makes me wonder what I'm gonna do for my next car. I was banking on getting the IMAS in 2006/2007. It frustrates me that only the Prius II is offering anything interesting as far as new hybrids.

I have no desire for an accord or civic hybrid as they are just marginally better than the standard version but cost significantly more. Plus honda isn't even going the PZEV route which makes no sense.

Another Insight-like car that consistently gets 85mpg at 85mph is another story.
 

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bigtrouble77 said:
This makes me wonder what I'm gonna do for my next car. I was banking on getting the IMAS in 2006/2007.
Me too. The Insight is the only car I 'love' and the IMAS is the only car that could replace that. I will keep a watchful eye for any updates on the BBC Top Gear cars coming soon list.

One of the principles I have is to always drive the most environmentally friendly car available. If another manufacturer produces something that betters the Insight (Daihatsu UFE?) then I will buy that. Failing that, I may convert an Insight to all electric as a special project.
 

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xcel said:
Hi Rai Ka:

___Thank you for the link … I have also read recent Honda press releases that mention all Hondas after MY 2005 will have Side and Curtain air bags? Now if the above is true, I wonder how they are going to accomplish this feat in an Insight without major redesign?
What about the NSX....that doesn't have side/curtain-bags either. :wink:
 

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Rats! I wanted to have an Insight 2 so there would be no way Ford F250's and H2s could see me in a rear-view mirror. :twisted:
 

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What kinda business is Honda running?

According to the article (http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=101529
, thanks Rai Ka), Insight's sales are pretty crappy.

There has GOT to be something going on. Honda is NOT going just let their sales flounder. My guess is they are doing 1 of 3 things:

1) Smoke and mirrors (thanks, Citrus Smoothie). They're intentionally deceiving us as to their plans for the Insight, because they don't want us to know too much too soon. If this is the case, then they're probably not discontinuing it.

2) They are putting their eggs in the Accord/Civic basket. If this is the case, then they are very much planning to discontinue the Insight, but they don't want to start the ball rolling until someone tops their "my car has the best fuel efficiency in the world" bragging rights.

3) They just don't know what to do with it. Fuel efficiency is all the talk right now (just look at Ford's Escape sales), so the Insight has given the market something to talk about. By the same token, when you think about it, a 2 seater isn't that practical. Practicality is still king over fuel efficiency, and most 2-seaters are turbo-charged and are meant to fit the stereo-type "fast and little" car. Insight is little, but doesn't have explosive performance. If this is the case, then Honda might be waiting to see what happens in the market.

In general, it is expensive to keep a low-selling oddball product on the shelf, even if you do have bragging rights, but if the fuel prices climb too much higher, a redesigned Insight might be a goldmine. The REAL question is: How long can Honda afford to wait?
 

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heah...

Delta Flyer said:
Rats! I wanted to have an Insight 2 so there would be no way Ford F250's and H2s could see me in a rear-view mirror. :twisted:
Keep your Insight -- your name "Delta Flyer" for it is just too good.

Seriously, I plan on keeping mine unless, for some reason, my cargo carrying needs really change or it wants to go to the shop as much as my high school '82 Prelude did when it got older and higher in mileage.

I'm thinking our Insights will be a classic "period" car, like my uncle's orange '70 MGB, for example.
 
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Hi No. 166:

No. 166 said:
What about the NSX....that doesn't have side/curtain-bags either. :wink:
___According too many in the automotive press, the NSX is gone this year as well :(

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:1944yfct][email protected][/email:1944yfct]
 

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Crappy sales?

More Insights have been built than all the electric vehicles from all car companies.

At the present rate, that is still more than two every single day of the year.

I don't have the precise number of Insights produced, but I'll assume they have built 7.500. The Insight is thirteen feet long, parked bumper to bumper the line up would stretch more than 18 miles long, or 9,500 storeys high comprising 15 million pounds of high tech, aluminum, and plastic.

If they loose 25,000 on each one, as some have suggested, that's 187 million USD. A nice practical gift to the world's environment that isn't going to rust away. Thanks Honda!
 

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Xcel - the motoring press I have read says that the NSX is going to be replaced by the HSC concept.

b1shmu63 - I don't believe it is as much as $25K per car. One motoring program I watched (Jeremy Clarkson's The Car Years) stated a rumour that it costs Honda £24,000/$43,000 to make the car but it sells for £17,000 in the UK - that's a £7,000 / $12,500 loss on each UK Insight. Not sure what the USA price is. However that is still very altruistic for a multi-national!

I refuse to believe that they are not going to replace the Insight. During the motor shows where they showed off the IMAS, it is clear that Honda told motoring journalists 'unofficially' that the Insight would be replaced at the end of 2005.

Even if Honda don't fully redesign the Insight (an expensive process), it would not be excessively expensive for them to give it a 'facelift' (sharp edged IMAS style body), cure any inherent problems and give it the latest IMA technology. They could then consider charging full price for the Insight to those that can afford to drive the greenest car and stop it being a loss leader.
 

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Bring back the CRX with their three versions and a hybrid option. The "next generation CRX HF" could incorporate the Insight 2 features. The CRX Si would be a hybrid pocket-rocket. Maybe they could even put a 6/3-cylinder engine in the CRX Si.
 

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Funny you should mention the CRX, for two reasons. One is that there's been a rumor that Honda will indeed bring a new CRX to market, it had such a cult following and the cars, the newest now more than ten years old, still has a fairly large following and respect from pocket rocket aficianados. Two, when I first got my Insight one of the most common questions I got, especially from others in Honda's, was to ask if the Insight was a new CRX (similar in appearance in many respects).

So, it would make a lot of sense to me if Honda were to decide to do a new CRX to somehow roll the Insight into that line. I'd love it if Honda would bring back the CRX. Heck, I've thought about buying a late model Si if I could find one in good shape. It was the car that I drew in my notebooks when I was in high school. My uncle had one and I thought it had to be the greatest car ever! Until I bought my Insight!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well, I used to be very optimistic about the Insight, especially now that hybrids and smaller cars have gain some sort of a renewed interest... but reality sets in when I read that US Insight sales was only FIVE cars for the month of November!

Environmental friendliness didn't sell the Insight, and now, even with higher gas prices, the sales number continue to fall. The only good reason for Honda to hold onto the Insight is for the bragging rights, and to hope that the consumer still remember that Honda makes hybrids. Ok, ok. I'm exaggerating, but when it comes to hybrids, the Prius II is king. Honda and its products are just living in its shadow. (I'm just talking about sales numbers and press coverage here, not about design or quality, etc.)

There may have been A LOT of talk about companies bringing out two-seaters, but sad to say, I think they are all doomed to fail, and it would be foolish for companies to continue to do so. It is true that people LOVE or would like to own a two-seater, and it is probably true that most people don't even use their backseats, but when it comes time to put money down for a car, they always end up getting a 4-seater, or at least a two-seater with useless backseats.

Two-seaters probably can only survive if it is in the affluent category. Cheap cars like Honda DeSol or Honda CRX will never make it in today's crowded automotive market.

Toyota has already failed and decided to kill off the MR2. The sales numbers for the S2000 is falling. Trucks, minivan, and SUV sales, on the other hand, are so good, Honda is scrambling hard to add more trucks to their product line.

There won't be another Insight, and there should not be another CRX. The new Civic Hybrid is probably the only thing in the hybrid category that we have any hope for. And the Honda Jazz will the closest thing we'll see to a CRX sized vehicle.

Sorry to be doom and gloom, but that's just how I see it.

Charles
 

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If it's that hopeless, let's just get those mammoth vehicles and trade-in our obsession of large mpg numbers for large....you know. :wink:
 
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