Honda introduced the first gas-electric hybrid for purchase with the Insight in 1999, then came Toyota's Prius and everyone forgot about Honda's little hybrid that could. We all knew that Honda was working on a larger Prius-fighting, dedicated hybrid vehicle, but Honda has denied that they'd be reviving the Insight moniker for this new vehicle. On Thursday, Honda released the first official information and images of their Prius-killer concept and it's called, you guessed it, the Insight.
The Insight Concept carries over the styling cues of Honda's fuel cell vehicle, the FCX Clarity. It looks to us that Honda has been taking lessons from the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" school of thought, as the five-door, five-passenger hatchback configuration of the Insight is the same as that of the Prius. Squint your eyes and you'll see that the proportions from the a-pillar back are decidedly Prius-like. It's almost as though someone slapped the nose of the FCX Clarity onto Toyota's hybrid and called it a day.
Under the hood, the Insight will be powered by an evolution of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid technology, which powered the original Insight and the current Civic hybrid sedan. Honda is making almost as much of a big deal about the cost-efficiency of this power train as it is the fuel-efficiency and it's no secret that Honda is planning on winning the hybrid wars by undercutting the price of the incumbent Prius.
Honda will reveal a concept version of its new small hybrid vehicle at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and the production model is planned to go on sale in the U.S. next spring, the all-new purpose-built Insight will come to market at a price significantly below hybrids available today. Following the launch of the new Insight, Honda also plans to introduce another hybrid vehicle based on the CR-Z, first shown at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.