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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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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.

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.
See my comment in the other thread

meow77 said:
It's just plain dumb for Honda not to go with suv hybrids all the competition is going that route... they need a new CEO... period
The Escape hybrid is the second-most expensive model in Ford's lineup. Only the six-figure GT costs more.

Excursion? Cheaper. Mustang? Cheaper. Yeah, that'll move 'em--no wonder they're only making 30,000 total this year.
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