Honda to stop producing Insight hybrid due to weak sales

Article by Anita Panait, on February 27, 2014

Honda Motor Co. will terminate output production of the Insight model due to slumping demand and continued lag against the Toyota Prius. Honda informed its dealers in November 2013 that the current generation of the Insight will be discontinued this month, asking them to halt taking orders, according to Yuka Abe, a spokeswoman for the Japanese carmaker.

The Insight was the first hybrid vehicle in the United States when Honda rolled it out in 1999 -- seven months earlier than the Prius. The Toyota Prius, however, rode on a good sales momentum and eventually became the best-selling hybrid car of all time, with cumulative sales of 3.19 million vehicles as of January 2014. 

In comparison, Honda has only sold 280,629 Insights globally as of the end of 2013, of which 157,275 were delivered in Japan. Honda saw sales of the Insight drop 18 percent to 4,802 in 2013, making it the second-worst selling car in the Honda brand lineup.

Honda started February with 237 days of supply of the Insight, according to Automotive News Data Center, while carmakers typically consider a 60-day inventory to be ideal in the US. Honda stopped output of the first-generation Insight in 2006, and revived it in 2009.

The latest iteration of the new Honda Insight five-door still offers the highest EPA-rated fuel economy figures among vehicles with a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of under $20,000, even better than its predecessor. Compared to the 40 mpg city/43 mpg highway/41 mpg combined of the previous model, the new Honda Insight boasts of an EPA fuel economy rating of 41 mpg city/44 mpg highway/42 mpg combines.

For the 2012 model year, the new Honda Insight dedicated hybrid vehicle features an interesting combination of tweaks both inside and outside. Still aerodynamically styled, the new Insight now dons a more distinctive grille design with a thin, blue accent bar that identifies it as a hybrid unit. Its front and rear bumpers as well as some parts under it have been restyled to ensure that the new Insight is more aerodynamic than its predecessor (plus 2 percent).

The headlights as well as the brake light internal reflectors have also been redesigned. Insight and Insight LX models are marked by new 15-inch wheel covers while the Insight EX version comes with newly styled 15-inch alloy rims. These wheels are now wrapped in wider tires -- 185/60R15 tires – for better driving performance.

Inside, the new Honda Insight comes with a reconfigured rear seat area that allows for larger head and leg room. It also features reshaped center-console beverage holders that could now accommodate larger drinks. The gauge cluster background of the new Insight was also redesigned to feature a more technically look. Insight LX and EX models are provided with a more supportive front armrest.

Meanwhile, the seats in the Honda Insight LX are upholstered by new, more premium fabric, while in the Insight EX they are wrapped in new synthetic leather and premium fabric. By tweaking the shape of the rear headliner and sculpting of the rear seat cushion, Honda was able to improve the rear seat headroom by 0.6 inches.

A thinner rear spoiler and more compactly mounted housing for the rear-wiper motor helped improve rearward visibility. The new Honda Insight is now quieter thanks to the fact that the noise-insulation materials are now thicker and extra insulation panels have been installed in the cargo area.

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