VALENCIA, Spain -- Honda wants its new Insight to raise its image in the hybrid market against rivals like Toyota.
Honda hopes the Insights lower price, smaller size and smart packaging will be help win sales.
The Insight is a purpose-designed hybrid model that will cost about 10 percent less than Hondas own lower-medium Civic Hybrid. It is also expected to undercut the price of the upcoming Toyota Prius as well.
Honda sources say the car will cost about 20,500 or less. The new Prius, due later this year, is expected to start at25,150 in Germany.
The Insight is built on a modified version of the Honda Jazz platform, sharing its engine bay, fuel tank and suspension hardware.
Compared with the Civic, the Insights packaging has been improved, with a lighter battery pack repositioned in the bottom of the luggage compartment.
This layout allows Honda to give the Insight an aerodynamic design inspired by the FCX fuel cell car, said Hideharu Takamoto, Honda assistant chief engineer responsible for hybrid development.
The electric motor in Hondas Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system cannot power the car by itself but gives an extra boost when needed. A 10-kilowatt electric motor is fitted between the 1.3-liter 88hp gasoline engine and the continuously variable transmission.
Honda decided to use nickel-metal-hydride batteries, which are provided by Sanyo, to keep production costs down and because it can guarantee the batteries for the expected ten-year life cycle of the car.
The automaker said it has found other ways to cut production costs as well as increasing the output of the Suzuka plant where it is built.
Production of the electric motor system is now five times shorter than before. Now we can produce 200,000 Insights annually at a competitive cost level, Takamoto said.
Honda expects to sell 30,000 Insights annually in Europe.