Few changes planned
* Price:15k estimated * On sale: Spring 2009 * Four new hybrids planned...
The car in our pictures is the concept model that was on display at the Paris motor show a couple of months ago, although it's more than 95% representative of the model you'll be able to buy.
Honda plans to offer it as a realistic alternative to a petrol or diesel hatchback, rather than as a fringe model for a handful of green zealots, and there will be more than one specification level to broaden its appeal, as with any mainstream rival.
'In terms of timing, with finances and fuel prices as they are, this car fits perfectly,' says Kingston. 'Around 50% of sales will go to the US, but the UK will be our key European market.'
Back in 1999, Honda became the first manufacturer to offer a hybrid in the UK: a futuristic little two-seater called the Insight.
Its namesake is a car with far wider-reaching appeal, and not just because of its price.
It will be followed by a hybrid version of the Jazz supermini, a stylish coupe based on the CR-Z concept car from last year's Tokyo motor show, and a replacement for the Civic hybrid, all using a similar drive system to the new Insight.
Suddenly, that sales target of 500,000 hybrids a year doesn't seem quite so unattainable.
INSTRUMENTS Will show the driver how much help the petrol engine is getting from the electric motor
MATERIALS Despite its keen price, the quality of materials needs to
be better than on current rivals
TRIM Climate control, stability control and four electric windows should be standard on all specs
GEARBOX Continuously variable transmission will send the combined power to the Insight's front wheels