Honda will no longer be building its Insight Hybrid after this summer. Although Insight is the least expensive hybrid on the market, it has always been parked under the giant shadow cast by the market dominating Toyota Prius.
During 2013 Only 4800 Insights were sold, a 20% decline year-over-year. By comparison, Toyota sold 234,000 of its multi-bodied Prius line. Total Honda and Acura hybrid sales of all types were less than 15,000 in 2013.
Honda’s hybrid product offerings in the U.S. remains with plans to expand the application of a two-motor hybrid system. The two-motor system, introduced on the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid, is EPA-rated 50 mpg city Accord Hybrid, which is the most fuel-efficient rating for a 5-passenger sedan in the country.
The second generation Insight starting at $18,725 has EPA fuel economy ratings of 41/44/42 city/highway/combined. Introduced in the spring of 2009 to good reviews from the automotive media, the 5-door hatchback never caught on.
“Our hybrid vehicle strategy will focus on new models aimed at delivering the class-leading fuel economy and performance our customers’ desire in segments that represent significant growth opportunities,” says Michael Accavitti, senior vice president of auto operations at American Honda.
Back in November of 2011, Honda said it would lead in fuel economy in all classes its sells in by 2014 (Honda Claims it will lead in Fuel Economy in All Classes within Three Years. New EVs and Hybrids Coming). It will have a tough time making that goal since it is using the same technology that all other automakers are deploying. Japan’s third largest automaker also said it would reduce CO2 emissions by 30% for all products sold worldwide by 2020, compared to Honda emission figures for 2000.
The Honda program is called “Earth Dreams Technology,” in a rough translation. It is actually a series of efficiency and fuel economy boosting measures for engines, and transmissions, as well as electric-powered motors using existing or emerging technologies. Variable valve timing, direct injection, the Atkinson cycle, hybrid vehicles, turbocharging and friction reduction are part of the plan’s proposed techniques.
Earth Dreams Technology includes:
- A gasoline engine line with what’s projected to be best in class fuel efficiency in 660cc, 1.3-liter, 1.5-liter, 1.8-liter, 2.0-liter, 2.4-liter, and 3.5-liter displacements
- A compact, lightweight diesel engine
- CVT or continuously variable transmission line for small, medium and mid-size cars
- A two-motor hybrid system which realizes top efficiency
- A high-efficiency, high output electric SH-AWD hybrid system which combines superior driving and environmental performance
- A compact, high efficiency electric powertrain for EVs