Hybrid sales success has, in a way, been rather overstated. Even in America, the nation that has gone head-over-heels for hybrids, the best-selling cars are not gas-electric. Honda, however, is changing the story.
Since becoming the first automaker to release a gas-electric hybrid in the United States (Insight generation 1), Honda has trailed distantly behind Toyota for hybrid sales domination. The Prius, Camry Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, and numerous Lexus hybrids put the Honda Civic Hybrid and performance-oriented Accord Hybrid to shame – at least in the “units sold” category.
Honda’s new Insight, however, is really quite cheap. That’s not to say it’s a poorly-equipped car. But it’s not quite as fuel-efficient as the Prius – nowhere near as efficient as the upcoming generation3 Prius – and that price advantage is eaten away, to a degree, by the Prius’s remarkable efficiency.
What’s the point? With the Insight’s first full month of full production/full awareness in its homeland of Japan, Honda became the first automaker to take the sales leadership crown with a hybrid. 10,481 Insights were sold in Japan in April, helped by tumbling demand for the Toyota Prius in advance of the third generation’s soon-coming debut. The Insight cruised past the Japanese equivalents of the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris (and 18 other cars) to sit atop the standings.
Why is The Good Car Guy celebrating this hybrid success after so often dissing their disadvantages? That’s just it: the number 1 disadvantage relating to most hybrids is gone with the Insight. Its USD price of $19,800 ($23,900 CDN) is completely tolerable despite the downfall from the concept’s cool exterior and slightly less EPA mileage than first thought.