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Honda gives Insight into budget hybrid

Five-door family model set to take on the Prius

Honda claims its new hybrid will be cheaper than rival models

Honda claims its new hybrid will be cheaper than rival models

Honda has unveiled plans to launch a new, 5-door family hybrid – and it’s going to be cheaper than any of its rivals.

Designers claim the Insight, which goes on sale in the spring, will tempt first-time hybrid buyers by being ‘significantly lower in price than any other hybrid on the market’.

New platform

The car takes its name from Honda’s 1999 hybrid coupé – the first production hybrid sold in Europe – but will be based on a completely new platform.

‘This new Insight will also break new ground by providing an affordable hybrid to an expanded number of customers craving great fuel economy and great value,’ said Takeo Fukui, Honda’s president and CEO.

The hybrid takes its styling cues from the FCX Clarity, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell car Honda is already leasing to customers in the USA, but parallels with its obvious rival, the Toyota Prius, are not hard to draw.

Efficiency assistance

Honda said the control unit and battery for the Insight’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system will sit beneath the boot space to improve practicality and give the car a low centre of gravity.

A special function that promotes fuel efficiency will also be added to help drivers save money.

Ambitious targets

The Insight is part of Honda’s ambitious targets for its greener cars. The Japanese maker wants 10% of its global sales to be hybrid by 2010 and is planning to launch a sporty hybrid (based on the CR-Z concept), a Jazz Hybrid and a new Civic Hybrid over the next few years.

And although just 17,000 of the original Insights were sold worldwide, Honda hopes to shift 200,000 of the new version every year.

However, European sales of Honda’s hybrids have rocketed from 208 in 2000 to more than 10,500 last year.

The Insight gets its public debut at the Paris Motor Show next month.

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