Rumors are circulating that Honda may either pull the plug on the Insight hybrid or revise it.
Honda has neither officially confirmed nor denied any changes for the original Prius fighter (that lost), but it has quietly removed it from the Canadian lineup, and marketing for a 2015 U.S. model appear conspicuously absent.
Holding a mid-pack place with 5,536 sales this year, the integrated motor assist (IMA) powertrain vehicle lags the 6,644 sales for the similarly functioning Civic Hybrid with IMA, and comes nowhere close to the full hybrid Prius family members, the least of which – the Prius c – has sold 32,582 year to date.
Launched in 1999, the Insight was America’s first hybrid by a few months, and it and the original Prius established the foothold for a type of car now firmly established – if not with much more room to grow.
The present Insight is often said to look like a Prius knockoff. It does not beat the Prius in mileage, but does in price at around $19,000.
One way to significantly improve it or any of Honda’s IMA hybrids would be to adapt the powertrain from the Accord Hybrid which was just launched in October.
Honda is now in possession of technology that is truly effective compared to Toyota and could elevate its stature if Honda otherwise designs and positions vehicles correctly as well.