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Honda to stay with slow-selling Insight, says no hybrid SUV

9848 Views 37 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Delta Flyer


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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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:
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.
If it's that hopeless, let's just get those mammoth vehicles and trade-in our obsession of large mpg numbers for know. :wink:
What I'm wondering about is why the Insight does not sell very well in Europe? They don't seem to have the obsession of many Americans that:
Big = Power + Validation
Wern't they saying that hybrid Escape production was being slowed down by who ever supplies the hybrid batteries? They also supply Toyota.

I would like to see hybrids in every size of vehicle. Among other things, it would drive down the cost of the hybrid batteries and mature the technology.

Several months ago, they was talk an H3 would be sold - smaller than other Humvee to improve milage. Critics said the target market will give it a pass since they want the biggest vehicle on the road (short of a tractor-trailer). They suggested a hybrid H2. :D I'll expand on that - what if the Pentagon ordered hybrid Humvee's?
The Pentagon is into to size.

The F-16 is unusual as it's the only single-engine fighter - all others are two-engined. Being so much lighter, it is as manuverable as any fighter currently in production.

So (small) size matters. :D
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