Prices confirmed for Insight fuel cell vehicle
2 October 2008

The biggest news that emerged from Honda’s Paris stand concerned the all-important price of its forthcoming new hybrid-only model, the Insight.

Previewed by a close-to-production concept car at Paris, the Insight has been conceived to make hybrid technology more affordable than it has traditionally been.

As one company insider revealed following the unveiling, it should be around £3000 cheaper than a Toyota Prius, costing in the region of £15,000 in the UK when it launches in Spring 2009.

Unlike its 1999 namesake, the new Insight is a four-and-a-half metre five-door, five-seater that looks strikingly similar to Honda's FCX hydrogen fuel-cell car.

"There is an intended visual similarity between the FCX and Insight," Motoaki Minowa, creative chief designer told Autocar. "We hope that those who like the FCX but can't afford it will buy the Insight."

The looks are more than a slick marketing move though. The Insight's shape - particularly the sloping roofline and blunt rear - lends it optimal aerodynamic performance. It's part of the reason why the Insight looks so similar in profile to the FCX and, indeed, the Toyota Prius.

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Inside the Inisght's typically futuristic Honda cabin, a 'driver coach' system gives visual advice on maximising fuel economy.

A Honda spokesperson admitted to Autocar that the company was "not yet satisfied" with plug-in hybrid technology and next-generation lithium-ion batteries.

It's the reason why the Insight employs neither. Instead, Honda has honed its IMA hybrid system - now on its fifth-generation - to be more compact, efficient and cheaper to build than before.

This advanced development of the hybrid system is how Honda will be able to undercut Toyota and its Prius by such a margin when the Insight hits showrooms in 2010.

Matt Saunders

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