AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
To Frugality and Beyond!
Fuel economy is a major purchase consideration for new-vehicle shoppers; in fact it’s the No. 1 thing they look for in a car or truck. Consumers continue to demand ever greater mileage, and so does the federal government. Washington keeps turning up the wick on its Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations. In response to these stimuli automakers are working day and night to improve the efficiency of their products.
Fuel efficiency is at the forefront of every new car-buyer’s mind. No one wants to spend $30,000 and find themselves throwing money away at the gas pump, so we’ve compiled a list of the cheapest vehicles that get 40 miles per gallon (combined) in order from most expensive to least expensive.
10. Mazda2: 1.5L (1498 cc)
The motors in these vehicles don’t pack much power, or torque, and are all aimed to use the least amount of fuel. These cars are all ranked in order, right down to the cubic centimeter from most displacement, to least, so take a look below, to see the list of smallest engines available today.
The subcompact Mazda2 is the first on our list, with the biggest engine here. Thanks to its 1498cc four-cylinder engine, the Mazda2 makes 100-hp at 6000 rpm. Of course, that’s not much but what else do you need in a 2300-lb city car? The Mazda2 starts at $14,530 which isn’t too much for a car that gets 29/35 mpg city/highway with the manual or 28/34 mpg city/highway with the auto.
Zipcar, the nations largest car sharing service, is teaming up with Honda to provide customers with the latest in fuel saving cars and EVs.
All Zipcar customers, known as Zipsters, will have access to Honda’s Insight hybrid, the new CR-V and the all electric Fit EV come this fall. The Accord plug-in hybrid will be added to the stable beginning in early 2013.
Zipcar’s urban presence has driven up the demand for fuel efficient small vehicles which make more sense in the city, and Honda is answering the demand, also spurred by the fact that Zipcar customers have consistently rated Honda vehicles as the most favored cars in the fleet.
“As the car sharing market leader, Zipcar is the best choice for us to showcase our newest energy-efficient transportation technologies, given the strength of their brand, their tech-savvy, conscious and connected members and the geographic reach of their operations,” said Steven Center, the vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office at American Honda.
Zipcar was the first car sharing company in the US to adopt electric vehicles to its roster, and is now expanding on its fuel efficient choices to make sure that they stay current with the the latest market trends.
It’s amazing to think that it’s been 12 years since Honda introduced its first hybrid vehicle – the first generation Insight – to the world. Back in November 1999, the Insight was a peculiar hybrid but still boasted the world’s highest fuel economy among all gasoline-powered vehicles.
And despite Toyota clearly surpassing Honda in hybrid development (and sales), the Japanese automaker is still proud to announce that it has surpassed 800,000 hybrid vehicle sales worldwide.
Currently, Honda sells seven hybrid models in approximately 50 different countries around the world. The Acura ILX, which will launch in the North American market in spring 2012, will bring that total to eight.
Honda’s hybrid sales have increased steadily over the last couple of years. In 2005, with just the Civic Hybrid, Accord Hybrid and first-generation Insight on the market, Honda hit 100,000 units. May 2007 saw the achievement of 200,000 units, but it wasn’t until August of 2009, when the second-generation Insight came to the market, that Honda topped the 400,000 mark. In 2010, Honda introduced the CR-Z and the Fit Hybrid and by the end of the year has surpassed the 600,000 unit landmark. A year later in December of 2011, Honda was happy to have surpassed 800,000 hybrid vehicles total.
While Honda continues to be one of the biggest names in hybrid technology and sales, it’s well off the pace of Toyota which to date has sold well over three million gas-electric vehicles.
10. 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE: 43/39 MPG
The Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient cars have been named for 2012 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA (those guys that come up with the official ratings for cars) has compiled the list, which is dominated by Japanese automakers. Those remaining two are domestic vehicles, although with one being a commercial van, it almost should count. On the list are electric and hybrid vehicles only, with no diesels or pure gasoline engines.
In 10th spot is the first of three Toyota models and the first of four if you count the larger Toyota company and Lexus. The Toyota Camry Hybrid LE is officially rated at 43 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. With a combined rating of 41-mpg, it’s the only true mid-size sedan to achieve an average of 40-mpg or better. And these numbers don’t come at the expense of performance either, with 200-hp on tap. Of note, XLE models, which have more content and are heavier, are rated at 40 mpg city and 38 mpg highway.
While perusing through the Central Hall of this year’s massive SEMA Show, we came across this little gem tucked away in AirREX’s booth. There was a bit of information that was lost in translation, but AirREX is an air suspension manufacturer out of Taiwan and decided to use a Honda Insight to show off their product.
It probably sounds strange to hear of a Honda Insight sporting air bag suspension, but AirREX also equipped with sleek black Insight with a custom widebody – that’s surprisingly done well – and an aggressive set of Volk Racing TE-37s in a brilliant, bright red shade. Matte gray was applied to the body to give it some contrast, but we feel that the Insight would have looked a lot better without it. Nonetheless, this is one of the nicest and coolest Insights we’ve ever spotted and kudos to AirREX for finding a way to get people to their booth.
GALLERY: Widebody Honda Insight
Honda may be a little low key for this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, but the Japanese automaker has announced a refreshed version of its Insight hybrid will make its debut. For the newly updated model Honda has fine-tuned the aerodynamics of the car, reduced engine friction, made improvements to the Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) and incorporated a better air conditioning system.
All of these changes are combined for better fuel mileage, with Honda claiming that the 2012 Insight will produce 96 g/km of CO2 or about 57-mpg in the European cycle. Typically speaking, the European cycle yields around 10- to 20-percent higher than the U.S. cycle, so don’t look for numbers quite that impressive when it comes here. Currently the Insight is rated at 40/43-mpg.
Regardless, we hope the exterior improvements do make their way here, with a more aggressive front end and a slimmed tail spoiler. In addition, tweaks have been made to the engine and the suspension for overall improvement to the ride quality and stability. Lastly, Honda claims the interior has been enhanced for “a superior quality.”
The world’s greenest race car has been banned from racing—for being too fast.
God forbid. Like the great race cars of history, kneecapped for being too dominant, the Oaktec Honda Insight joins the Porsche 917 and Brabham BT46 as one of the quick yet misunderstood motorsport legends.
Developed for Formula 1000 rallying, the hybrid Insight race car was tuned to get 100mpg when pushed slowly, and 82mpg at a quicker pace. Formula 1000 emphasizes mileage as well as speed, and the Insight was regularly beating the next-best car, a diesel, by over 17mpg. Overall, it has dominated the current 2011 series with two wins and a second place in just the first three rounds. This, competitors whined, was an unfair advantage.
“It was a bit of a shock when I got the call as after six years of hard work we finally had our chance for a bit of glory,” said Paul Andrews, Oaktec boss. “But I fully understand the perspective of the organisers and their wish not to spoil the sport for the other drivers. It’s a shame it had to happen mid-season but it’s the risk you face in going against the grain and trying something radical. If it fails, no one notices; if it’s successful, you have an unfair advantage.”
The team is now looking to race in a class above, where the competition hopefully won’t be so quick to cry foul.
Despite being written off as a failure in both critical acclaim and unit sales, the Honda Insight has seen sales explode as higher gas prices, a promotional blitz and a general upward trend in sales resulted in a 62.2 percent improvement in year-over-year sales numbers for Honda’s hybrid hatchback.
The Insight was regarded by almost everyone as a colossal flop, and its direct competitor, the Toyota Prius still outsells the Insight exponentially ( with 42,779 sold versus 6,058 Insights), but customers appear to be trickling back to the Insight, which can deliver 40 mpg in town and 43 mpg on the highway.
While Honda initially predicted 90,000, but in its peak year, Honda sold just under 21,000 Insights.
[Source: Ward's Auto]
Honda loyalists who long for a CR-Z with the hybrid internals removed and a K-Series engine swapped in have finally had their prayers answered by LHT Performance, a performance shop that was also one of the pioneers of the K-Series swap into the first generation Insight, which yielded an ultra light weight VTEC powered aluminum rocket.
What separates LHT’s K20 swap from other tuners is that all the vehicle’s electronics will work, including the power steering, ABS, stability control, cruise control and air conditioning units, which normally are lost due to wiring and ECU issues.
All we have right now is a short video of the car not doing anything exciting, but hopefully there will be more to come.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that Honda‘s Odyssey is destined to be a brisk seller. As the undisputed king of the minivan segment, the Odyssey is still popular even with an onslaught of new competitors from Chrysler, Dodge, Kia and Toyota.
The rest of the lineup isn’t so hot. The Insight is being outsold by an 8-1 margin by its arch rival, the Toyota Prius, while the Crosstour’s projected 40,000 sales aren’t materializing, with the car selling closer to 20,000 units. The CR-Z also appears to have slowed after a promising start, although sports car sales are always dismal in the colder months.
Honda faces a predicament, since the rest of their lineup, like the Civic, Accord and CR-V are all fairly old, and due for replacement. But with only stagnant or unappealing products in the showroom, 2010 will be a dismal year for the big H. Hopefully the company can pull out of their nosedive, but their legendary maverick attitude (and accompanying arrogance that their way is the right way, market desires be damned) may see a number of lean years before their once faithful customers return.
Honda is cutting the base price of its slow-selling Insight hybrid by $1,600, and offering a base model that retails for $18,950, putting it $4,610 below the cheapest Toyota Prius.
Honda achieved the price cut by removing features like Bluetooth connectivity and a GPS navigation system, while using cheaper seat fabric and a two speaker stereo system. The base Insight will still feature stability control, keyless entry, power windows, automatic climate control and a tilt steering wheel.
While the Prius sells around 115,000 units per year, the Insight sells a dismal 17,000.
[Source: Automotive News]
Honda has made some improvements to the stop-start system on their Insight hybrid car, allowing drivers to keep the engine off for up to 3 times as long as previous years.
Insights before 2011 could keep the engine stopped for up to 30 seconds, but new improvements for this coming model year allow for the engine to be stopped for as long as 90 seconds. The initial figure was based on a “worst case scenario” of extreme humidity, a car full of passengers and poor weather, but Honda has now revised the rating.
The 90 second engine-off feature will help improve mileage in town by a noticeable amount. Unfortunately, we’re not sure just how significant the improvement will be, as no official figures have been released yet.
With the Toyota commanding over 70% of hybrid market share, and Honda’s Civic, Accord and Insight hybrid models all falling flat, the big H must do something quickly to avoid losing the segment for good. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, the company hopes to regain their foothold by introducing both a plug-in hybrid and an electric vehicle concept.
No further details have been announced, but with Honda’s CR-Z meeting or exceeding sales targets (against the predictions of many), the future looks bright for Honda.
AutoGuide’s coverage of the 2010 LA Auto Show starts November 17th. Until then, see our complete LA Auto Show Preview here.
In response to rumors that Honda‘s Canadian division would axe the low-selling Insight and Civic Hybrid, Honda Canada has issued a statement confirming plans to continue sales of the two models… for now.
We contacted Honda Canada and received a message from PR boss Richard Jacobs confirming the models for the future, but the “official statement” also included an important qualifying statement.
Calling the rumor just what it is, Jacobs says there is currently a six month supply of both models. “Honda Canada is planning to offer both Insight and Civic Hybrid as 2011 model-year units, and we have no plans to discontinue either model.”
That sounds quite certain, however, also included in Honda Canada’s official position is the statement that, “Honda Canada will listen to the voice of our customers and
will bring the products they want. If there is market demand for Insight
and Civic Hybrid, we will bring the appropriate supply.”
That’s less reassuring, as demand is obviously the key issue here with sales of just 748 Insight models and 643 Civic Hybrids so far this year indicating that Canadian’s are not interested in either model.
Honda may drop both the Civic Hybrid and the Insight from its lineup in Canada. According to a recent report by Monvolant, the two hybrids will be eliminated from the product plan – likely in response to dismally poor sales. This would then leave the new CR-Z as the only hybrid in Honda Canada’s lineup.
When the Insight launched over a year ago, Honda Canada projected sales of 10,000 units. But poor press, a high-dollar asking price and competition from the significantly more fuel efficient third-generation Toyota Prius may all be contributing factors to the fact that just 748 Insights have been sold so far this year. Worse still are Civic Hybrid sales, with just 643 units moved in 2010.
With such low Honda hybrid sales you’d expect the Prius to be conquesting a lot of buyers, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with just 2,272 third-gen Prius models sold in Canada so far this year. While there are no hard facts surrounding why Canadians are turning away from hybrids, possible factors include the higher price of the cars in Canada, the lack of large urbanized cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal stand out as exceptions) and the colder climate often means hybrids don’t perform up to their lofty MPG targets.