Honda is going to start giving Toyota's Prius a run for its money. The Prius has long been the best-selling hybrid car in North America, but Honda is hoping to change that with an as-yet-to-be-named hybrid-only model (update – it's called the Insight, again). Hybrid-only models are cars such as the Prius or Honda's earlier attempt, the Insight, which are offered only in hybrid form, not standard fuel.
Hybrid fans have been eagerly anticipating the Paris Motor Show in October 2008 to learn more about this car, including the name (still the Insight), but the announcement may come even sooner. Speculations had been made that the Insight name might be revived, but current rumors dispel this (or not). Will it be the Honda Green or possibly the Honda Eco? Nope … In Sight!
The new Honda hybrid Insight will likely have a similar design to the hydrogen FCX Clarity (pictured above) or the Toyota Prius, but it will be larger while still remaining in the sub-compact category. A few speculations about design are already being made. The car will be a five-door, five-passenger vehicle with the hybrid components tucked under the rear hatchback area, to offer more interior cargo room. One of the best design features of this new hybrid, currently being called the "small hybrid" by Honda spokespeople, is the reported estimated mileage – upwards of 60 MPG.
The biggest difference from the Prius? Price. The Honda Insight will come in around $ 18,500 – while the Prius starts around $ 21,500. Making the car more accessible for younger buyers is a strategy Honda is really hoping pays off.
This announcement is counter to a rumor that had been swirling in hybrid circles for months: that Honda's next foray into hybrid cars would be a hybrid version of the popular economy compact, the Fit. However, the auto giant denied that saying that the Fit got great fuel economy as is, so it would be best to offer buyers something a little different for the time being.
Honda has an annual production target of 200,000, with half of that being sold in North America. Their overall sales goal for hybrids is to be selling 500,000 by 2012, about 10% of its total sales volume. The "small hybrid" is just a small piece of the puzzle. Other hybrid offerings in the next few years will likely include a replacement for the hybrid Civic, a hybrid coupe (the CR-Z), and a hybrid version of the Fit in a year or two. And according to Autoweek, it may be a while before we see a hybrid Honda Pilot or hybrid Odyssey. The best hybrid cars are yet to come.