Honda to introduce hybrid gas/electric car

provided by Honda Motor Co.


he first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle available in the US will be called the Honda Insight when it goes on sale this December, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced.

Utilizing Honda's innovative Integrated Motor Assist (IMA™) hybrid system in combination with a rigid and lightweight aluminum body structure, world-class aerodynamic design and advanced ultra-low emissions technology, the Honda Insight is capable of averaging more than 70 miles per gallon (EPA combined estimate) while meeting California's stringent Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) standard -- making it the cleanest and most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicle ever offered to American consumers.

"The Honda Insight will provide American consumers with their first look at one of tomorrow's advanced automotive power plants," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. "The Insight represents Honda's commitment to developing products that meet customer expectations for quality, comfort and driving enjoyment, while responding to society's need for cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Debuting as a year 2000 model, the Honda Insight is a sporty two-seater coupe developed exclusively as a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. Dubbed the Honda VV in its concept stage, the 2000 Honda Insight features Honda's new efficient and lightweight IMA™ hybrid system.

At the heart of the system is the world's lightest 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine. The engine uses advanced lean-burn technology, low-friction design and lightweight materials such as aluminum, magnesium and plastic in combination with a new lean burn-compatible NOx catalyst to achieve a new level of efficiency and low emissions in gasoline engine technology.

The electric component of the IMA™ system consists of an ultrathin (60mm) DC-brushless motor, a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack and an advanced electronic power control unit (PCU). Unlike a dedicated electric vehicle, Insight does not require an outside source of electric power. The electric motor draws power from the batteries to boost engine performance to the level of a 1.5 liter gasoline engine and also acts as a generator during braking to recharge the vehicle's batteries. Power management is provided by the system's advanced Power Control Unit.

A pioneer in the design of aluminum car bodies with its Acura NSX sports car -- the world's first mass-produced aluminum-bodied vehicle -- Honda has employed its extensive experience to create a new type of lightweight aluminum body that offers a high level of body rigidity and advanced safety performance. This unique "hybrid" aluminum chassis uses a combination of extruded, stamped and die-cast aluminum components to minimize weight while optimizing rigidity and safety. Body weight is 40 percent less than a comparable steel body.

Most of the vehicle's body panels are aluminum, which are lighter yet more rigid than traditional steel panels. Front fenders and rear fender skirts are made of recyclable plastic. Other weight-saving features include aluminum-alloy wheels, a magnesium oil pan and plastic head cover.

In keeping with its philosophy of making environmental technology broadly accessible to consumers, Honda will price the Insight at less than $20,000 with a full complement of standard comfort and convenience features including anti-lock brakes, electric power steering, dual air bags, AM/FM stereo cassette, power windows and mirrors, power door locks with keyless entry, and a theft-deterrent Immobilizer System. A fully digital instrument panel delivers information, such as battery status, charging condition and fuel-economy performance at the touch of a button.

The 2000 Honda Insight is the culmination of 50 years of Honda research into lighter, more efficient and cleaner burning vehicle technologies, and is the latest example of Honda's commitment to bringing new environmental technologies to market wherever feasible.

This year alone, two out of every three Hondas sold in the US -- more than 650,000 vehicles -- will be equipped with advanced low-emissions technology. Honda's commitment to developing cleaner running vehicles dates back to the mid-70s when the company introduced its Civic CVCC, the first vehicle to meet federal clean air standards using regular unleaded gasoline and without the use of a catalytic converter.