One of the main problems with hybrid vehicles is the cost. The government does offer tax credits that help offset the price, but those are negated by the enormous premiums that the dealers are charging in addition to the MSRP; simply because the supply of these vehicles is limited and they are high in demand, Business 101. It has been concluded that the additional amount spent to purchase a hybrid instead of the traditional model will never be recuperated at the pump because the sher number of miles that a person would have to drive is tremendous.
For example, a well-optioned Toyota Prius can around $30,000. Hopefully Honda will affect this trend by introducing an affordable hybrid vehicle. The 2010 Honda Insight will go on sale March 24th for around $19,800 becoming the cheapest hybrid vehicle sold in the U.S. The five-door five-seater gas-electric hybrid follows Honda’s latest design trend and comes with a long list of standard features.
"The all-new Honda Insight brings the cost of entry for hybrid technology within closer reach of an entirely new car-shopping audience"
Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist joins a 1.3 liter 4 cylinder i-VTEC gasoline engine with a 10 kilowatt electric motor connected to a Continuously Variable Transmission. The electric motor is positioned in between the engine and transmission. This motor provides power during acceleration and through regenerative braking generates electricity during deceleration that is stored in the battery for future use. Another benefit of the IMA system is its ability to operate exclusively on electric power during low speed driving and the fuel saving idle stop feature that shuts down the 4 cylinder engine while the vehicle is standing still.
New for 2010 is the Ecological Drive Assist System, much like FIAT’s Eco Drive software that lets you record personal driving statistics on a flash drive and then have the program evaluate your economy at home on a PC. Except that with Eco Assist displays all the information in front of the driver in real time on a 3-D looking panel in front of the speedometer. Off to the left is another new feature is the ECON button, which can manipulate the throttle, control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and in the slightly higher priced EX model the cruise-control operation in order to achieve maximum efficiency.
All of this technology is said to return 40 miles per gallon in city driving and 43 miles per gallon while cruising on the highway. The 10.6 gallon gas tank in the Honda hybrid should give the Insight a range of over 400 miles.
The vehicle will also be sold in an EX trim starting at $21,300 and $23,100 for navigation. Not to shabby for an affordable hybrid.
Press release after the jump.
The all-new 2010 Honda Insight goes on-sale March 24 with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price1 (MSRP) of $19,800 for the Insight LX, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.
The distinctively styled, five-passenger, five-door dedicated hybrid vehicle is powered by an Integrated Motor Assist™ (IMA™) system comprised of a 1.3-liter i-VTEC® gasoline engine and a 10-kilowatt electric motor that together contribute to an EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy rating of 40/43 miles per gallon2. The Insight features the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist™), an innovation that can further enhance efficient vehicle operation while providing feedback related to individual driving styles.
"The all-new Honda Insight brings the cost of entry for hybrid technology within closer reach of an entirely new car-shopping audience," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda. "In addition to making good environmental sense, hybrid technology is now entering a new era where it can also make financial sense for a broader range of customers."
A sleek exterior blends design elements from the original 2000 Insight’s highly aerodynamic side profile with a front-end design similar to the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity, a marquee environmental product for Honda. The interior offers a roomy passenger environment with a configurable rear seating and cargo area that benefits from 60/40 split fold-down seats.
Major features standard to the Insight LX include front, front-side and side-curtain airbags; an anti-lock braking system; a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); Eco Assist; automatic climate control; tilt and telescope steering column; manual driver’s seat height adjustment; power windows; a four-speaker AM/FM audio system with CD player and auxiliary audio input for external digital music players; and much more.
A more premium version of the Insight is also available. The Insight EX, with a MSRP of $21,300, adds to the Insight LX features with Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®); alloy wheels; cruise control; steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters; an upgraded audio system with six speakers; USB audio interface3; a center console with armrest and storage compartment; heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals; and much more. Exclusively available on the Insight EX, the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System4 (6.5-inch screen) with voice recognition provides routing and guidance to individual addresses and more than 7 million points of interest within the continental United States. Models equipped with the navigation system also include Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® for hands-free operation of compatible mobile telephones, along with related steering wheel-mounted controls for voice activation of navigation and hands-free telephone systems.
A 4-cylinder engine with intelligent variable valve timing and a DC brushless electric motor forms the foundation of the IMA hybrid system. The electric motor, positioned in-line between the engine and the transmission, adds power during acceleration and in certain cruising situations, and recaptures energy from the vehicle’s forward momentum during braking (regenerative braking).
Integrated Motor Assist
The Insight’s IMA system has the capability to operate exclusively on electric power in certain low- to mid-speed cruising conditions. It can also provide cylinder deactivation during deceleration and an idle-stop feature when the vehicle is stationary. With a 10.6-gallon fuel tank, the Insight delivers an estimated maximum driving range exceeding 400 miles. Models for sale in California and states that have adopted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ZEV standards receive an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) emissions rating.
The Insight introduces Eco Assist to help drivers achieve improved real-world fuel economy. Eco Assist is a feature designed to help drivers optimize fuel efficiency for their given set of driving conditions. Pressing the ECON button can further enhance the efficiency of multiple vehicle systems: throttle control, CVT operation, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and cruise-control operation (EX only). Eco Assist also provides feedback about driving style via a 3D-appearing background within the speedometer. The background changes colors from green to blue to reflect how efficiently or inefficiently the driver is accelerating or braking (green = efficient). The driver’s results are continuously tracked as fuel-economy ratings are shown per drive cycle and on a lifetime basis in the form of plant-leaf graphics that appear in the Multi-Information Display (MID). Up to five leaves can be ‘earned’ as the driver demonstrates a fuel-efficient driving style. A real-time score is shown in the Eco Guide MID screen.
Standard safety features on all Insights include dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags; front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side-curtain airbag system; anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD); driver’s and front-passenger’s active head restraints and a front body designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries. All new Insights also feature Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, which provides improved frontal-crash compatibility between vehicles of different size and ride height.
Honda is a leader in developing cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, including the original Honda Insight , introduced as America’s first mass-produced hybrid car in December 1999. Honda is also a leader in the development of advanced alternatives to gasoline, including the zero-emission, hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity fuel-cell car, the world’s most advanced production fuel-cell automobile.