New hybrid Honda Insight 2010, $18500, 60 mpg

Honda Insight Hybrid 2010

UPDATE: The 2010 Honda Insight has been introduced but with low EPA ratings of 40-city and 43-highway.

Test drives are showing higher mileage.

We recently got the opportunity to drive the new Honda Insight through the gently rolling hills just north of Phoenix, AZ, and managed to score 63.4 mile per gallon on one particular efficiency run. That’s impressive, and it’s also much higher than the Insight’s official EPA rating of 40-city and 43-highway. In fact, even the older Civic Hybrid scores better under the EPA’s testing procedure, leading many to wonder what’s up

Honda has introduced a five-door, five-passenger compact hatchback, the new Insight will feature an innovative new platform in which the battery and control unit are located beneath the cargo space for exceptional utility and better handling. The Honda Insight 2010 will start selling on April 22, 2009 with starting prices of $18,500 and fuel efficiency of about 60mpg.

Honda plans to introduce the production version of the all-new Insight to the markets in Japan, Europe and North America in spring 2009 and projects annual global sales of 200,000 units. The Insight will use a more cost-effective version of today’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) powertrain, enabling the car to be priced under current hybrids.

The new Insight is about 2.5 inches shorter bumper to bumper, one inch narrower, and two inches lower in height than the Prius.

Following the Insight launch, Honda will introduce a sporty two-door hatchback hybrid shown in Detroit, the CR-Z.

Honda CRZ Hybrid

Honda Insight 2010 revived as a Toyota Prius fighter

The Economist magazine covers the trend to more fuel efficiency.

The first stage, happening now, is an effort to wring efficiency from the internal-combustion engine. Volume car producers will soon be making cars that crack 80mpg. The direction of travel for them is clear. Engines will become smaller and lighter, and will have clever new valve-control systems and superchargers to boost power. For example Fiat’s new Multiair, which should be on sale in a year or so, uses hydraulics and electronics to optimise the engine’s valve settings. When this combines with a supercharger or turbocharger, Fiat reckons, a “downsized” two-cylinder engine can be made to perform like a bigger four-cylinder one—though it will use some 20% less fuel.

The second stage of the journey will begin about two years from now. Despite his conviction that the internal-combustion engine will remain, VW’s Mr Leohold concedes that the car industry needs to start moving away from mineral energy and towards electric-powered vehicles. Nearly all the coming hybrids are “plug-ins”. That means their batteries can be recharged from an ordinary power socket. Almost nobody disputes that hybrids are a bridging technology, however, and that eventually most cars will be powered by batteries alone. Given today’s progress, by 2020 batteries should have a range of more than 200 miles—enough for the bulk of journeys. Bucking this consensus is the Renault-Nissan alliance. Encouraged by the fruits of its partnership with NEC, an electronics giant, Renault-Nissan wants to have all-electric cars ready for mass production by 2010. Renault will supply an all-electric Mégane to Better Place, a start-up that is building a network of 500,000 battery-charging points in Israel, and has similar plans in Denmark and Portugal. Nissan has promised to launch an electric car in America in 2010. It will have the performance of a V6 petrol engine, a range of 100 miles and should be capable of an 80% recharge in one hour, the company says..