Honda issued this solitary photograph of the new Insight hybrid car today – revealing the battery-powered vehicle in production spec. This is a bit of a mini landmark in green fuels technology: the Insight Mk2 will become at a stroke the world’s cheapest hybrid car.
Sales begin in spring 2009 and CAR understands that Honda is working on a £14,995 price tag, substantially undercutting today’s hybrids. The car pictured today is a US-spec Insight, but the Euro version will change only in minute detail, a spokesman said.
Although we rue the Prius-alike rear end on the actual Insight, this is a product of the wind tunnel rather than Honda cribbing the design of its homegrown nemesis. It’s inevitably watered down from the Insight concept car but remains an intriguing piece of industrial design.
How green is the new Honda Insight?
This thing packs everything Honda knows about saving fuel into a car. The Insight will use the latest iteration of Honda’s IMA electric drive system mated to nickel metal hydride batteries. It’s interesting that both Honda and Toyota are shying away from the much lauded lithium ion tech at this stage, saying they are not advanced enough for full-scale production.
Honda has spent a lot of time shrinking and simplifying its hybrid system – to save money and valuable space. It is mated to a 1.4-litre i-VTEC petrol engine from the Jazz, but with a bespoke head that’s optimised for economy.
The Insight is a full hybrid, capable of running at up to 31mph on electric power alone. Honda has not yet issued any economy or emissions claims, but sources have indicated to us that around 65mpg and 100g/km of CO2 are likely figures.
Honda hybrids galore!
The latest Insight is the first of a range of new petrol-electric cars from Honda, one of the pioneers of the breed. Next up is a hybrid coupe based on the CR-Z concept car (we can’t wait) and a petrol-electric version of the Jazz supermini.
But it’s the Insight that will deliver volume growth for Honda and justify the engineering cost of the new streamlined IMA system. It aims to sell 200,000 a year, half of those in the US and some 5000 in the UK.
>> Read our full six-page feature in the new January 2009 issue of CAR Magazine for a full tech preview of the new Honda Insight