Honda‘s newish Insight hybrid had a lot of buzz when it first launched, but in just a year it has since faded into oblivion. Sure it undercut the Prius in price, but it didn’t get near the mpgs, and wasn’t the sort of dynamic drive that people have come to expect from a Honda. We didn’t hate the car, but we did find it to be lacking in the sort of engineering prowess Honda prides itself in. Our feelings were echoed by the industry and consumers, who opted for Toyota’s more efficient (if more expensive) Prius at a 5 to 1 rate.
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito has recognized this issue and an overall complacency at the Japanese automaker and has vowed to do something about it. Stating quite frankly that he’s not “satisfied,” with the efforts of the company, he has vowed that the next generation Insight will top the Prius in fuel economy. Currently the Insight gets just 40/43 mpg (city/highway) compared to the Prius at 51/48 mpg. Ito is also urging haste, telling Honda’s engineers to bring the car to market quickly – suggesting that the current Insight may not last for a full four or five year cycle.
To out-do the Prius in fuel economy Honda is working on a two-mode hybrid system (like the one found in the Prius), and will likely do away with the out-dated Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) setup it currently uses. In addition,
In addition, Honda is developing a new hybrid system for large cars, involving two large electric motors, one which charges the battery, the other which gives the gasoline engine a power boost. The system will be used on an upcoming Acura hybrid, as well as minivans and mid-size cars.