Click above for a high-res gallery of the Honda Insight

The Honda Insight concept took a hushed bow under the lights of Paris today. It's Prius-esque, but in person the car is less evocative of its Toyota challenger. The Insight's width and rather low height give it a substantial presence, and there's a bit of attitude out back with the hatch sliding into a flick of a tail. We imagine some of the more complex elements, such as the headlights reminiscent of shards from Superman's home planet of Krypton, will not make it to production. We hope the interior, however, is left untouched -- it is just the right blend of tech and common currency. The production version will be introduced to the public at the Detroit Auto Show in January and pricing is rumored to be just under $19,000 when it goes on sale. In the mean time, enjoy the gallery of high-res photos below, and check out the press release after the jump.

Related GalleryHonda Insight LIVE

Related GalleryHonda Insight Concept


PRESS RELEASE

HONDA GIVES AN INSIGHT INTO THE FUTURE OF HYBRIDS

Honda has always intended Hybrid vehicles to be a bridge to a hydrogen powered future, the potential of which has already been demonstrated by the FCX Clarity. The Insight Concept has clear stylistic links to the world's first production fuel cell car, with both vehicles' forms shaped to maximise the efficiency of their respective drivetrains.

The Insight Concept is the stylistic inspiration for the production version which will go on sale in 2009. From this unique position in the marketplace, Insight will open hybrid technology to a new generation of customers.

The 1.3 litre Insight is powered by Honda's acclaimed IMA system, which has been extensively modified to reduce its cost and weight. With careful engineering of key components and refinement of manufacturing processes, the cost of the hybrid system has been significantly reduced. This ensures that Insight can be sold at a very competitive price without compromising ability, quality, environmental performance or profitability.

The Insight will benefit from a significant cost reduction in Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) components resulting in the most affordable hybrid vehicle to date. This dedicated hybrid vehicle will be offered as a 5-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and built on a newly developed platform. Engineers have mounted the compact control unit and battery beneath the boot space to give the Insight both a low centre of gravity and the practicality of a conventionally powered hatchback.

This reduction in cost has not been brought about by compromising the quality of the Insight, instead the Japanese manufacturer has tasked its engineers with finding more intelligent cost reduction solutions.

Insight will utilise various technologies, including a function to assist more fuel efficient driving giving customers a further improvement in real world fuel consumption. Along with the Civic Hybrid, the new vehicle will be produced at Honda's Suzuka factory in Japan which recently has expanded hybrid motor production line.

CO2 emissions and fuel economy are targeted to be at a similar level to the existing Civic Hybrid, giving drivers a flexible and highly practical lower environmental impact car. At its expected price point, Insight will have a unique combination of passenger space, luggage capacity, emissions and economy.

"The original Honda Insight launched in 1999 was the pioneer of hybrid technology in Europe and remains an iconic symbol of Honda's environmental innovation," said Takeo Fukui, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. CEO. "This new Insight will also break new ground by providing an affordable hybrid to an expanded number of customers craving great fuel economy and great value."

The Insight will form the first part of Honda's new hybrid strategy, which will see a further dedicated hybrid model, derived from the CR-Z show car and a hybrid version of the Jazz. The strategy will make hybrids both more accessible and more appealing to a range of customer types.

The Insight Concept is the culmination of two decades of hybrid petrol electric hybrid research and development. The Insight production vehicle will go on sale in Europe, Japan and North America during the first half of 2009.