Keep­ing ri­vals In­sight

Honda is back­ing price to sell its hy­brid, writes PAUL GOVER in Paris IT WILL BE A SUR­PRIS­ING PRICE. WE PLAN TO HAVE IT UN­DER CIVIC HY­BRID

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Paul Gover -

ASUB-$ 30,000 start­ing price is the tar­get for forth­com­ing Honda hy­brid, the In­sight. The new petrol-elec­tric pow­er­house is be­ing set against the bench­mark Toy­ota Prius and will lead a range of new Honda hy­brids in­clud­ing the CR-Z twoseater and a small city car based on the Jazz.

Honda failed with its orig­i­nal fu­tur­is­tic- looking In­sight, a cramped two-seater that was a lousy drive, but has gone all-out on the new Civic-sized five-door hatch.

The change in di­rec­tion in­cludes a price-driven strat­egy that will un­der­cut the ex­ist­ing Civic hy­brid, while us­ing a sim­i­lar IMA hy­brid pow­er­train with a 1.3-litre petrol en­gine.

It will prob­a­bly be about $8000 less than the Prius and a clear price leader in Aus­tralia.

‘‘We in­tend to have

it

in Aus­tralia be­fore June next year,’’ Honda Aus­tralia manag­ing di­rec­tor Ya­suhide Mizuno said on the Honda stand at the Paris Mo­tor Show.

‘‘Pric­ing? Slightly cheaper than the Civic hy­brid and closer to $30,000. The tim­ing, to be frank, has not been de­cided. We are dis­cussing ev­ery­thing.

‘‘Cost-wise, it is very cheap. It will be a sur­pris­ing price. We plan to have it un­der Civic hy­brid.

‘‘We have to see the ex­change rate, so fin­gers crossed.’’

Mizuno says the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s green-car poli­cies are help­ing with the in­tro­duc­tion of cars such as the In­sight.

‘‘We try to fol­low the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment pol­icy,’’ he says. ‘‘One of the trig­ger points is the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment sup­port for hy­brids.’’

Honda is aim­ing for more than 200,000 In­sight sales a year and has even big­ger plans with the CR-Z and Jazz.

Mizuno be­lieves Aus­tralia will see all of the Honda hy­brids, though there is some doubt about the petrol-elec­tric Ac­cord aimed at the US. But tim­ing and fi­nal de­tails are yet to be de­cided and even the In­sight pro­gram is only at the 70 per cent level for a lo­cal in­tro­duc­tion.

The In­sight in Paris is the sub­ject of a lot of in­ter­est, with ex­ec­u­tives from ri­val com­pa­nies — in­clud­ing Ford and Gen­eral Motors — tak­ing a close look. But there is also talk the styling is too close to the Prius.

This is dis­missed by the In­sight’s de­signer, Mo­toaki Mi­nowa, who says the shape was es­sen­tial for low drag.

‘‘The fu­ture of this type of car is to move closer to the per­fect aero­dy­namic shape as a way of min­imis­ing drag and re­duc­ing fuel con­sump­tion,’’ he says.

Get the pic­ture: the new petrol-elec­tric Honda In­sight five-door hatch on dis­play at the Paris Mo­tor Show.

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