January 12, 2009 While Honda revealed the 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid at the Paris Motor Show in October 2008 the Paris car was a ‘show’ version with LED headlights and 18 inch wheels that were never intended for the final production model. Today Honda revealed the full specification of the ‘production’ version. Honda's plan to sell half a million hybrid vehicles annually by 2012 with the upcoming Honda Insight to account for 200,000 of those. It was nearly 10 years ago that Honda shook up the automotive world with the then-new Honda Insight, the world's first mass-production hybrid vehicle that looked like a CRX and packed a unique hybrid powertrain.
There's more than a subtle hint of Prius in the new Insight's 5 door bodyshell but following the poor sales of the Civic Hybrid, which was indistinguishable from a regular petrol power Civic, Honda have decided to follow the Toyota example and make a distinctive new aerodynamic Insight chassis that will only be sold as a Hybrid.
While the Prius ‘look’ may score credibility points down at the local supermarket the 2010 Honda Insight is a much milder Hybrid than the 2010 Toyota Prius. Honda call their system Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), a simple system consisting of a small efficient gasoline engine, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a thin, brushless electric motor sandwiched between the two. Comparing the Honda and Toyota hybrid powertrain specifications is revealing. The Honda Gasoline engine is only a 1.3 Litre 8 valve VTEC compared to the 1.8 litre 16 valve VVT-I in the third generation Prius. The in-line 4 cylinder engine puts out 88 hp (64 Kw) and 88 Ft/lb. The electric motor in the Insight is an ultra this Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Brushless DC (BLDC) unit that puts out and regenerates only 13 Kw (10 hp) with 68 ft/lb (92 Nm). This doesn’t compare favourably with the Prius at 59kw (80hp) and 295ft/lb (400Nm) which earns the Insight the tag of ‘mild’ hybrid. Another technical specification that no doubt keeps the price down but also classes the Insight as ‘mild’ is the 100 volt 0.58 Kw/hr battery pack. While it uses the same Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) Battery technology found in the Prius it has less than half the capacity as the 500 volt 1.3 Kw/hr Toyota pack. Honda say the 2010 Insight can be driven in EV only mode up to 30 mph (48 kph) on a level surface but with such a small battery it will probably give an EV only range of around 2 miles (3 kms). With a curb weight of 2723 lb (1235 kg) off the line the Insight does 0-60 mph in 10.9 sec and the quarter mile in 17.9 sec.
No plans for a Plug-In
While the the 18 inch wheels and LED headlights of the Paris show car are replaced by 15 inch wheels with low-rolling-resistance tires and more conventional Projector-Beam Halogen Headlights, the Insight does come with most of the features you would expect in a Hybrid. These include automatic idle stop, stepper motor controlled drive-by-wire throttle and electric power steering. Of course the most important factor for any hybrid is the fuel economy. The 2010 Honda Insight is rated at up to 43 mpg in highway driving so with a 10 gallon tank it gives a range of 430 miles (688 km) between visits to the fuel station. Unlike most of the other big names in Hybrids there has been no news on when a Honda plug-in hybrid will be offered.