We'd had it pegged as a 2010, but we just learned that Honda's new four-door Insight Hybrid
hatchback sedan, which is reportedly poised to be the most affordable hybrid when it goes on sale next spring, will be tagged an '09 and debut at Detroit's North American International Auto Show. The vehicle shown in January at Detroit's Cobo Hall will be the production version.
Honda has an aggressive sales goal of 200,000 Insights
annually, with 100,000 in the U.S. alone. The vehicle will be a gas/electric hybrid similar in concept to the Toyota Prius
, and it will use a driver-coaching system called EcoAssist to help extract max economy. Thus far, Honda has relied on a mild-hybrid setup, one that cannot operate on electric power alone. The Insight
name was first applied to a CRX-like three-door hatchback, which was America's first commercially produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle.
We will be driving the 2009 Honda Insight
later this week, and we're curious to see how it stacks up to the Toyota Prius
in terms of drivability, comfort, and efficiency. Stay tuned for the full report.--Colin Mathews
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