The Honda Insight Hybrid
automobile is perhaps the world's most fuel-efficient
production vehicle. For certain, the Honda Insight Hybrid
was the first mass produced hybrid car to hit the market,
dating back to its introduction in 2000.
The Honda Insight Hybrid
is one of only two cars (Toyota Prius being the other)
to break the 60 mpg barrier so far with the 5-speed manual
transmission model coming it at 61 mpg city/66 mpg highway.
Other independent reports have had the Insight coming
it at over 70 mpg in some circumstances.
The Honda Insight achieves its excellent gas mileage rating
through its 2-seater, lightweight aluminum design, plastic body
panels, extreme aerodynamics, an efficient 1.0-liter 3-cylinder
12-valve, SOHC VTEC® aluminum gasoline engine with an ultra
thin, lightweight electric motor that kicks in when extra power
is needed. The Insight contains a linear air-fuel sensor and
lean-burn NOx catalyst that allows the use of stratified-charge
lean burn combustion technology.
The Honda Insight Hybrid comes with either a 5-speed manual
or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The
CVT generates slightly less efficient fuel economy at 57 city
and 56 hwy mpg, but also gets a slightly higher fuel emissions
rating as a Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV) as compared
to the manual transmission, which receives a Super Ultra-Low
Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating. The Honda Insight Hybrid is
also a long-range vehicle needing to be refueled every 500 -
Honda was first to market with the gasoline-electric Integrated
Motor Assist (IMA) system. The super-efficient 3-cylinder
engine runs most of the time and gets a boost as needed
from the electric motor, which runs off of a bank of 120
D-size nickel-metal hydride batteries (with a total output
of 144 volts) housed under the cargo floor.
The Insight also uses a regenerative braking system, where
the electric motor turns into a generator and recharges
the battery pack every time the brakes are applied. The
Insight also applies an "Auto Stop" mode in that
the gasoline engine will actually shut off when the car
comes to a complete stop, such as at a stoplight. This is
done to reduce idling time and create even greater fuel
efficiency. When you want to Insight to go again, the electric
motor quickly starts the gasoline engine and away you go.
The Honda Insight Hybrid comes with standard features that
include anti-lock brakes, electric power steering, dual
air bags, power windows and mirrors, a remote entry system,
anti-theft Immobilizer system and automatic climate control.
Air conditioning, however, is not standard.
A couple of the downsides to the Honda Insight have been reported.
The first is the ride on the Low Rolling Resistance (LRR) tires
can seem harsh due to their harder composition and these same
tires can often get caught in the grooves already worn in the
roadway. The second downside is the future of the Honda Insight
Hybrid itself. Reportedly, Honda has decided to promote its
new Civic and Accord hybrids heavily and expects to sell approximately
50,000 of those two models combined in the 2005 calendar year,
but it only expects to sell a couple thousand Insights in the
The Honda Insight Hybrid has been an excellent automobile
for the green car enthusiast for the past 6 years, setting
the standard for fuel efficiency. Hopefully, Honda will
be able to find a way to keep the Insight commercially viable
and improve upon its efficiency so it can still be offered
to the consumer for some time to come.