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Mar 102009
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Honda says the new 2010 Insight hybrid will go on sale March 24, and you could argue its timing is bad as fleets of hybrids are going unsold on dealer lots.

But the base LX model Insight will sell for $19,800, and that might be just the right price for consumers who have rejected paying a premium for hybrids when gas is once again relatively cheap. At today’s gas prices, experts say it would take nearly a decade for most hybrid buyers to make up the higher upfront cost of the vehicle.

The five-passenger, five-door Insight will be powered by a 1.3-liter gas engine and a 10-kilowatt electric motor that together deliver an EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy rating of 40/43 miles per gallon. The Insight also will feature Honda’s new Ecological Drive Assist System, a new technology intended to help drivers obtain the maximum fuel efficiency by providing real-time feedback related to individual driving styles.

A premium Insight EX, available for $21,300, adds features such as Vehicle Stability Assist, alloy wheels, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, an upgraded audio system with six speakers, a USB audio input and heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals.

Honda says Insight models sold in California and other states that have adopted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ZEV standards will receive an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) emissions rating.

Perhaps the car’s most unique feature will be the new Eco Assist technology designed to help drivers optimize fuel efficiency for their given set of driving conditions. Honda says that pressing the ECON button will enhance the efficiency of multiple vehicle systems such as throttle control, idle-stop duration, air conditioning and cruise-control operation. Eco Assist also provides ongoing feedback to the driver about his/her driving style via a 3D-appearing background within the speedometer. The background changes colors from green to blue to reflect how efficiently or inefficiently the driver is accelerating or braking.]

The driver’s results are continuously tracked as fuel-economy ratings are shown per drive cycle and on a lifetime basis in the form of plant-leaf graphics that appear in display . Up to five leaves can be ‘earned’ as the driver demonstrates a fuel-efficient driving style, and a real-time score is shown in the Eco Guide screen.

All that pro-active technology, along with an aggressive pricing strategy, might help Honda reach the larger market of more casual green believers who will opt to drive smarter if the upfront costs are in line with non-hybrids.