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

9851 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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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 ?!?
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.
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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