• Jun 17th 2009 at 11:29AM
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Honda CR-Z concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

With news coming in that Honda isn't selling nearly as many Insight hybrids in the U.S. as it would like, it would seem the Japanese automaker could go one of a few different directions. It's possible that Honda could reverse course on hybrids and focus instead on incremental improvements to its already excellent line of internal combustion engines. Alternatively, Honda could double down on its hybrid program and commit to more models and development. It's this latter path that the automaker seems to favor.

According to a report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in Japan (via Green Car Advisor), Honda President Takeo Fukui says the automaker is working on two new hybrids that would cost less than the Insight's already low $19,800 starting price. We've already heard about the planned Fit Hybrid, but we'd be a bit surprised if the second low-cost model were the upcoming CR-Z hybrid hatchback, which is expected to join Honda's lineup as a 2011 model.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, they might try reviving the idea of a small 2 seat commuter car, which could be both less expensive and get higher fuel economy, especially if it were a slender low drag tandem seat design.

      The original Insight was also a two seat design with great fuel economy, but it cost almost as much as the roomier Prius and Civic Hybrids, so it didn't sell well.

      Alternatively, they might try designing a less expensive hybrid system, though I can't imagine what that might be.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree with the negative sentiment directed at the Insight's interior. 80's style really nails it. It is cheap looking, outdated, not elegant, and it stands far apart from the emmerging trends in auto interiors: software and or better grain plastics, slick clean design with great ergonomics, and chrome accented guages and dials. It took me about 4 seconds to rule the Insight out based on the interior.

      Now if the Insight had the interior of a Chevy Malibu I believe it would be wait-listed. New car buyers are just not willing to deal with "budget" looking interiors anymore. That Chevy and Kia have beat on Honda on interior really points to the brand being neglected in favor of Acura.

      The Germans and the Europeans won the interior style war. American style interiors and Japanese interior styles are dead. European is is now the standard. First Lexus moved to it, so did Dodge, Chrysler, GM and even Ford is moving in that directly (slowly.)

      If Honda was smart they would quickly put out a 1.1 version of the Insight with an all new interior and exterior tweaks to make it less Prius like. And deal with the issues with the CVT that the Top Gear guy was yelling about.
      • 6 Years Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Honda has a rough road ahead with hybrids. Even though their real fuel economy is similar to that from a Prius, what new buyers see are the EPA numbers which seem to provide a big sales advantage to the Toyota. Most people who have no eye for design also think the Insight is a copy of the Prius which does not help. It seems to be that Honda needs to either redesign their hybrid system so that it tests better or they need to differentiate in some way. The sports model does that, but no one buys those much. Actually they probably need to do both.

      Toyota will probably eat Honda's lunch though. I remember a prediction about 20 years ago, when there were lots more car companies than there are now, that eventually there would only be three car companies in the future by geographic region based on cash rich company dominance. They were VW, Toyota, and GM. It looks like Ford has replaced GM on the list. The prediction did not anticipate the industrial development of China and India nor the zeal of the US to throw away manufacturing capacity. Could very well be Toyota, VW, Tata, Chinese Peoples Car Company.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Honda screw up the design of the insight. The concept-car looked great, the production car a bit cheap. Bit whats really bad is the 80s-style interior.
      I just had the choice between: new prius, insight and vw golf vi bluemotion. I chose the prius over the insight not only because it can leave the parking in EV-mode (which I think is cool, though), but mainly because I was afraid about the reaction of friends and family, who are used to the high-quality-interior of the vw golf.
      The cockpit of the insight can not be explaines by its smaller price-tag. Its just an accident, in every detail.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I want a CR-Z, it looks so pretty
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yeah, the CR-Z looks very cool. I hope Honda pulls it off.
      • 6 Years Ago
      How can they make a cheaper hybrid? They've already cut every corner in the Insight.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That argument holds some water before the Insight was designed, but now that the Insight also exists, it is Also an existing design, which has manufacturing costs similar to the Fit. So there is no real monetary advantage going with the Fit body.
        • 6 Years Ago
        By using an existing design like the Fit. The Insight required engineering development of a totally new car that has to be paid for. Probably could get it down to $17K.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The smaller the vehicle the lighter and more able to design a low drag coeffecient.
      Both of these are key for good gas mileage.
      My bet is they are adding to their portfolio vehicles with these key design concepts found in the original insite. The key is to build out their portfolio of hybrids to compete with Toyota.
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