Honda Insight 2 concept (2009) first photos

Published: 04 September 2008

The Honda Insight is back! Honda today unveils the Insight 2, a concept version of its new global hybrid. As extensively scooped by CAR Online, the new Insight is claimed to preview the world’s cheapest petrol-electric hybrid car.

We’ll see the new Honda Insight concept at the Paris motor show in October 2008 – and the real production car follows not soon after. Not that much will change; this show car looks production-ready to us…

Expect the roadgoing Insight to make its debut at the November 2008 Los Angeles motor show.

So how cheap will the new Honda Insight be?

Honda says it ‘will be priced significantly lower than any other hybrid car on the market, making petrol-electric technology accessible to more people.’

That’s quite a claim. Insiders we’ve spoken to claim the production Honda Insight will be pitched around the £15,000 mark, making it £2000 less than the existing Honda Civic Hybrid. And yet Honda vows this is a profit-making model, not a loss-leader. That’s one very impressive business model.

It’s interesting they’ve picked the Insight name again!

Indeed. It recycles the badge of 1999’s low-slung, futuristic coupe. The Insight was in fact the first production hybrid to be sold in Europe, although it lost the global race to Toyota’s Prius.

Takeo Fukui, president and CEO of Honda. said: ‘This new Insight will also break new ground by providing an affordable hybrid to an expanded number of customers craving great fuel economy and great value.’

Click ‘Next’ for more on the new Honda Insight 2

So what else do we know about the new Honda Insight concept?

Honda is keeping many of its cards snuggled close to its chest on this one. We don’t know exactly how Honda has managed to achieve such a low price for this complicated technology – but there are one or two clues. Much of it is in the manufacturing processes at the Suzuka factory in Japan, which now has capacity to double production of hybrid models.

These first photographs of an FCX Clarity/Prius lovechild are slightly misleading; it is in fact smaller than the Honda Civic Hybrid, and is a full five-door family hatchback capable of carrying five in comfort, says Honda.

And what’s underneath?

The new Honda Insight is underpinned by a new platform, and therein lies the penny-pinching nous. The control unit and battery for the IMA hybrid system are mounted beneath the boot and engineers claim they are much lower than usual – to the benefit of packaging and centre of gravity.

We don’t yet know how big the petrol engine is, although we’d expect a 1.4-litre unit. Drivers will be advised by the car how to adapt their driving to save fuel (although that is hardly new; we’ll have to see if Honda has come up with anything truly innovative).

How many Insights does Honda want to sell?

This is where it gets interesting. Honda is targeting 200,000 sales – just of the Insight. That’s a punchy ambition, but it reflects Honda’s forecast that a tenth of its global production will be hybrid-powered by 2010. That’s a huge proportion – and 2010 isn’t far away…

As we’ve previously reported, the hybrid push will come from a raft of new petrol-electric models. The CR-Z sports coupe will be a hybrid, there will be a similar version of the new Jazz and the Civic Hybrid will continue.

Honda says it will sell more than half a million hybrids a year with that little lot. And you sense that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Want an Insight 2 or are the looks just too similar to the Toyota Prius? Click ‘Add your comment’ below and have your say.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet