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Honda Insight PDF Print E-mail

Hybrids are all the rage currently and although Toyota is the clear market leader with its ultra-successful Prius, Honda has introduced its second generation Insight hybrid and it is a vast improvement over the original.

The Insight gasoline-electric vehicle was first launched in 1999, but it was generally not well received: small, unsightly, all it had to offer was remarkable fuel economy.? The new car, however, looks more of a conventional sedan and yet still offers all the advantages of a genuine hybrid.

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Honda?s ?green? credentials go back even further.? In 1956, Soichiro Honda said: ?After materials are carried into a factory, nothing but products should be carried out.?? The result is zero waste to landfill sites at all Honda?s Japanese plants and the UK plant in southern England aims to achieve this by 2010.?

Hybrids have been around since the Thirties in one form or another, but they currently only represent 2.5 percent of the U.S. market and around one percent globally.

The Insight features an economical 1.3 liter gasoline engine, paired with an electric motor.? It is though a full five-door hatchback, with plenty of comfort and is particularly well equipped for such a low cost model.? Combined output of the hybrid system is 101 bhp, but the combined torque reaches a substantial 199 Nm.? Honda claims that the Insight only produces 101 g/km of carbon dioxide making it easiest the best performer in terms of emissions in its class.

Honda says the aim was to make gas-electric technology available to more people by developing an affordable family hybrid.? The company expects the car to have a significant impact on the industry because it makes clean car technology available to more people.

When asked if the Insight was designed to rival Toyota?s Prius, Honda says: ?Yes, it?s natural to compare the two cars as they are both 5-door hatchback hybrids.? However, they will be positioned very differently in the market because of the difference in price.?

Low CO2 emissions was Honda?s goal and the company adds that sub-120 g/km cars are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in western Europe.? The majority, though, are small diesels. And while their CO2 emissions are lower than conventional gasoline cars, they produce higher levels of nitrous oxides and particulates.

Honda adds, ?We are seeing increasingly stringent Euro 5 and 6 regulations and manufacturers are having to fit expensive diesel particulate filters to meet these standards, thus adding additional cost to the on-the-road price of their cars.? Equally, the smaller margin between the price of diesel and gasoline at the pumps means the cost benefits associated with small diesels are ever decreasing.?

The sales targets are hard to quantify at present but clearly the United States represents the largest potential market. Despite this the styling of the Insight is firmly European.

?American Honda asked us to build a car with a trunk,? says project leader, Yasunari Seki. ?But we rejected that idea, because to compete with other green cars and sell more in Europe, it had to be a 5-door hatchback.? And of course, aerodynamically it is also a more favorable shape.?

The Insight will be built at Honda?s Suzuka factory ? close to the Formula One circuit ? where a new production line has been added to double the per-hour production capacity.

The new hybrid goes on sale is western countries immediately with Asian destinations to follow later this year and in early 2010.? Globally the target is 200,000 Insights per year, while over the next few years Honda will launch a sporty hybrid ? based on the popular CR-Z - a Jazz hybrid and a new Civic Hybrid.? With the four hybrids, Honda expects annual sales to top half a million.

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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