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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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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?
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!
It took me a bit of head scratching to see what you mean but I understand you to be saying that the Prius could be more fuel efficient if it was less clean. Well, yes, that applies to the Insight as well, as it has to drop out of lean burn to "purge the cat". Hopefully time will prove me wrong, but I would be surprised if the Prius III achieves dramatically better gas mileage. You can only do so much with aerodynamics before the car becomes unsafe or uncomfortable, cutting off 2 of 4 cylinders is probably inadvisable, using Ultracaps is expensive and may prove unsafe, making it smaller would be unpopular, making it aluminum would probably cost more than the GDP of many countries. Besides, with the Prius being so much in demand, what is the incentive? Furthermore, the better they make the Prius, the worse their other vehicles look by comparison.

The new 2006 Civic looks more aerodynamic and appears to be a hatch back. I think that they are following Toyota's lead in this regard. Hopefully it won't get uggggggly. This should increase the Civic hybrid's gas mileage, but more importantly will raise the efficiency of the whole Civic line, which will have a more pronounced effect on Honda's overall fleet efficiency than selling twice as many hybrids.

That's just my opinion and best guess. Time will tell. God only knows.

I wasn't trying to be critical but rather noting what a stellar job Toyota did this last time. They increased the size, weight, power and efficiency, without increasing the price.
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"I'd love a white Insight, with a matte-black hood, "Type-R" markings and red colored Honda badge".

And perhaps a turbo to go with the "R" markings? :D
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