* Price:15k estimated * On sale: Spring 2009 * Four new hybrids planned...
To bring costs down, Honda has found a way of making the hybrid drive components lighter and smaller, and will in future manufacture them in-house rather than farming the job out to suppliers.
'Honda's experience (in building hybrid systems) spans over 20 years, and it's this engineering expertise that has allowed us to make a hybrid car that's economical, versatile, fit for a family and priced at a level a lot more people can afford,' says John Kingston, the company's UK environment manager.
It has also stuck to the tried and tested to reduce complexity. Honda has not gone for a rechargeable plug-in hybrid, as Toyota is expected to do with the next Prius.
The Insight's propulsion package is a refined and updated version of the integrated motor assist (IMA) system in the Civic. That means a 95bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine working in partnership with a 20bhp electric motor, and driving the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic gearbox.
The official average fuel economy figure will better 60mpg, while CO2 emissions are likely to be at or slightly below the 109g/km of the Civic nothing to write home about alongside the 104g/km of the current Prius, let alone the 99g/km figure of the next Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion diesel, but good enough to exempt you from road tax from next April and to attract only 7% company car tax.
'Our aim with the Insight wasn't to go for world record-breaking CO2 emissions, but to make this technology available at a more affordable price,' says Kingston.
'The CO2 savings will come from having more of these cars on the roads.'