Toyota Prius pummels Honda Insight in the hybrid war

Article by Christian A., on November 30, 2009

At the marketing launch last March, the Honda Insight was being pushed to be the hybrid for everyone." Unfortunately, its sales since then belie this statement. The truth is that it has failed to capture a large part of the market. At the time of the launch, Steve Center, Honda vice president of advertising and public relations, had said that the company doesn´t only want a sliver of the market.

In what could be considered a dig at the Toyota Prius, Center said that the Insight was going to be a populist's car and not an elitist's car. However, Honda may want to step up its advertising since Honda's initial 90,000-unit U.S. sales goal was revised to 60,000 because of the weak economy.

Since the March launch, sales of the Insight total just 17,530, for an annual sales rate of about 25,000, according to the Automotive News Data Center. After eight months, it can be concluded that the Insight badly trails the segment-leading Prius.

A bright spot though is that the Insight is selling better than other rival hybrids. To illustrate it more clearly, Honda is selling one Insight for every six Toyota Priuses.

According to Compete Inc. and Edmunds.com, the Insight just isn't getting the interest needed to hit its sales goals. Honda spokeswoman Christina Ra said that the Insight was not intended to compete with Prius. Instead, it was meant to be a gateway vehicle for young shoppers who were hit the hardest in this recession.

The Japanese carmaker unveiled the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show in January. Honda Insight is laden with Honda's latest state of the art hybrid technology called Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) as well as an Ecological Drive Assist System.

The 2010 Honda Insight has and EPA rating of 40 mpg on the city and 43 mpg on the highway. These excellent fuel economy ratings are made possible by an ECON mode that optimizes control of the constantly adaptable automatic transmission (CVT), powerplant and related components.

Serving as the core of the new Honda Insight is a 1.3-liter SOHC aluminum-alloy i-VTEC powerplant and CVT, along with the latest of the IMA system. The IMA integrates a 13-hp (10kW) electric motor and a compact Intelligent Power Unit (IPU). The new Insight offers a range of more 400 miles with a full tank (10.6 gallons).

The new Honda Insight is priced lower than the Honda Civic Hybrid. Honda started selling the Insight in the US markets in April.

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