The biggest bit of greenery at the Paris Motor Show may be the Honda Insight concept. This is the car that's set to give the Prius a run for its money in the ongoing hybrid arms race in America, and it looks like it may have the goods to do proper battle. As has been stated, over and over again, the Insight bears a striking resemblance to its main rival from Toyota, but perhaps that's to be expected as both cars are meant to cheat the wind in an effort to reach maximum efficiency.
This isn't the production version, but we don't expect too many changes to its external appearance before it hits the Detroit Auto Show in January in its final form. Details like those LED-heavy light clusters up front may not make it, but the overall look is what will be in Honda dealerships sometime next year. The interior looks pretty spacey, but so did the second-gen Prius' when it was introduced. Take a look at the live shots in our gallery below.
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.