Photo Courtesy of cars.com
Far less cartoonish than the show car, very slick. In musical terms, some could say they sampled quite a few lines from Honda on this one. Slated for a 2010 US production year release, they reportedly are going to also offer an Opel badged version to the EU market in 2011, and though this part is speculative on my part, likely a Holden variant to the Aussie market will come further down the road.
But let's face it folks, if we are looking at one of these, we aren't looking to buy a plug-in hybrid on looks alone, are we? Let's take a look at the specs.
Battery power is provided by lithium ion(LiO) cells as seen elsewhere in the Tesla roadster, rather than the nickel metal hydride(NiMH) cells seen in current production hybrids. The advantage? As a plug in, it takes only three hours to charge fully, vs a 5-6 hour charge on the NiMH packs. So if you only use it for bombing around town, up to 40 miles on one charge, you can do so gasoline free. The disadvantage; LiO packs run hotter than a NiMH, and if not cooled properly cooled, well, if you know anyone who owns a Sony laptop, you know why this could be a bad thing. They go boom.
Your 150hp combined drivetrain(electric and gasoline) yields you a top speed of 100 mph. The length at 177 inches is halfway between that of the Honda Civic and the Toyota Camry. The projected price, at about $40k, is nearly double that of the nearest offering from industry leader Toyota. But what you get for all that money inside are clean lines, enough video screens and tech gadgetry to make any geek feel right at home, and a quiet ride environment promised to be rivaling any luxury car on the market.
Nipping at it's heels and that of the industry leading Toyota Prius is Honda's new Insight hybrid, their first dedicated hybrid model since they introduced the original Insight to the US market in the late 1990's.
Photo courtesy of consumerguideauto.com
The Insight concept, shown above, is rumored
to be a pre-production prototype slated for release in mid 2009.
The new Insight is said to feature a lighter, simplified version of the Civic Hybrid’s basic Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) drive system. Unlike Toyota’s Synergy Drive system, IMA uses a battery-powered electric motor only to assist the 1000cc gasoline engine; the car does not run on electricity alone except in certain low-speed conditions. Also like the Prius, they deemed to stick with NiMH battery packs, but unlike Toyota and Chevrolet, will not be offering a plug-in model in 2010. But at $22,000, only about three thousand more than their entry level Civic, it is sure to get a look from buyers looking frantically for Hybrid technology in the US market with $5-6 /gal gasoline prices looming overhead.