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Transportation Power User Journal

Redesigned, Bulkier Honda Insight to Challenge Prius 638

Posted by timothy
from the identical-cousins dept.
In what probably amounts to good news for consumers eyeing a hybrid for their next vehicle purchase, Honda is resurrecting the "Insight" name, this time in the form of a five-seat, Prius-like hatchback. The automaker's announcement included the tantalizing statement that the cost would be "significantly below [that of] hybrids available today," but provided no further details on pricing. Although Honda may have some trouble unseating Toyota's dominance of this particular hybrid market, hopefully the Insight's reintroduction will help to make hybrid cars even more affordable to consumers. This is also welcome news to folks like myself who, after the initial flurry of excitement when the now-retired original Insight was introduced in '99, were left scratching their heads at Honda's hybrid strategy as Toyota picked up their dropped ball and ran with it.
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Re-imagined Honda Insight to Challenge Prius

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  • by Shaitan Apistos (1104613) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:38PM (#24883225)
    What would manbearpig drive?
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:34PM (#24883609) Homepage Journal
      Hey, if they can ever make a hybrid that isn't as fugly as a Prius, call me.

      Why can't they make more 'green' cars that look svelt like the Tesla? At a reasonable price.

      I want looks, style, performance...and if they throw in the mileage, I'm interested.

      • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:02PM (#24883853)

        Well, my Civic Hybrid looks just like a regular Civic.

        Whether or not that's fugly is a matter for debate, though.

        What gets me is that for 15 years, I was a light-truck guy (Nissans), and there are no hybrid light trucks. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada.

        I'd love to see a compact truck (smaller than either Nissan's current Frontier or the Tacoma) with a hybrid motor that can handle everyday use. I'd be first in line to buy one when they come out.

        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:06AM (#24884625)

          I'd love to see a compact truck (smaller than either Nissan's current Frontier or the Tacoma) with a hybrid motor

          I'd like to see one with an inline-4 Diesel. Nissan actually used to make such a thing, back in the 80s or early 90s.

        • by MMC Monster (602931) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:31AM (#24885915)

          Don't ask for a hybrid truck.

          What you want is a truck with a "green" diesel engine. Quiet and fuel efficient and still able to generate a lot of torque.

      • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Friday September 05, 2008 @07:49AM (#24886831) Homepage Journal

        The Prius features the raindrop design, which has a lower drag coefficient compared to most other consumer level cars. For example the Honda Civic has a drag coefficient of .36 while the Prius is .26. The Bugatti Veyron is .36 and a Hummer H2 is .57.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_drag_coefficients [wikipedia.org]

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by the_humeister (922869)
          You're not really comparing the right cars. The .36 for the civic is for a 2001 model, non-hybrid. The last redesign of the Prius was around 2004 and the last redesign of the Civic was around 2006. Looking closer, 2004 Prius has a drag coefficient of .26 whereas the more normal looking 2006 Civic Hybrid has a drag coefficient of .27. Now if only Honda would just make the same body-tweaks for the non-hybrid Civics...
        • Kammback (Score:4, Informative)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:58AM (#24889977) Journal

          The Prius features the raindrop design,

          The Prius features a modified raindrop design
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kammback [wikipedia.org]

        • I own an 07 Prius. You can really feel the drag coefficient when you coast. The thing will coast just about forever.

          On my commute home, I jump off the freeway and up an off-ramp hill to my neighborhood. One of the things I like to do is to take my foot off the accelerator at freeway speed a ways before the ramp and see how far up the hill I can coast.

          It's really a bizarre sensation. I usually can make it all the way at a decent speed and still have to use the brakes. It almost feels like you're sli

      • Why can't they make more 'green' cars that look svelt like the Tesla? At a reasonable price.

        Well if you want a Tesla-like car, you'll have to hire Lotus to design it for you, which won't be cheap. And to meet modern safety standards, you'll have to use different (and expensive) construction methods and materials.

        Otherwise you can go with the usual design process of the big automakers:

        1. Someone who's had the creativity systematically beaten out of them draws up a decent looking but still somewhat bland and and forgettable design on paper.

        2. The sketch is drawn up in CAD and goes through the dullif

    • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:40PM (#24883659) Homepage

      What would manbearpig drive?

      She blinds everybody with her super high beams
      She's a squirrel-squashin', deer-smackin' drivin' machine
      Canyonero! Canyonero! Canyonero!

  • The problem is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:40PM (#24883249)
    The problem is with hybrids is that for most you end up paying more than you would your current car:

    If you have your car payed off and spend $70 a week for gas, that is a total of $3640 for an entire year.

    On the other hand, if you buy a $25000 hybrid, you might only need to buy $30 of gas a week, but unless your car payments are less than $120 a month, you aren't saving any money by buying a hybrid.

    Yes, over time a hybrid is going to save you money, but by the time you get it payed off, there will be a more effective hybrid that costs less.
    • by maino82 (851720) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:42PM (#24883261)

      Yes, and don't buy that new computer now, because in a few months it will be obsolete!

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:44PM (#24883277)
        The difference is, you usually don't have to pay that much for a computer. You pay a one time fee of ~$500 and that lasts you a good year or two. On the other hand, a hybrid costs $25000 and still uses up gas money and will have some expensive repairs before it breaks beyond repair.
        • by maino82 (851720) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:50PM (#24883327)

          Very true, but you seem to be ignoring the fact that other cars also cost thousands of dollars. Granted, their is a premium for a hybrid, but using your own numbers as an example (and my own experiences with a $17,000 regular civic vs. a $20,000 hybrid civic), your hybrid will pay back that $3000 premium in about 6 years assuming gas stays the same price (which intuition tells me it won't). Considering my last 2 cars have lasted me over a decade each before finally crapping out, that's a pretty good ROI. Granted, past performance of vehicles is no guarantee of future performance, so there's no telling if the hybrid will last me 12 years, but it's not unreasonable to believe that it probably will.

          • Re:The problem is... (Score:5, Informative)

            by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:48PM (#24884181)
            The problem is that the hybrid costs $3000 more up front and money now is always worth more than money in the future, hence the reason why interest is charged and why money has a time value [wikipedia.org]. so a stream of payments adding up to 3000 six (6) years from now is actually worth less than $3000 right now so you are paying $3000 more upfront for a savings of less than $3000 (i.e. a loss). In order for the investment to really "pay off" it would have to save you more money in gas than you could earn instead by investing the $3000 difference in treasury bills (4.75% yield or thereabouts) or in other words it would have to save you more than $3000 at the end of the 6 years to be worth it. If you are looking at it purely from a financial standpoint hybrids rarely make sense (for now) because there are almost always cheaper non-hybrid alternatives no matter what you are presently driving.
            • by shmlco (594907) on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:32AM (#24884779) Homepage

              'Course, the new Insight gets 60 MPG and only costs $19,000, so it would appear that efficiency is going up and costs are going down. And all your math is predicated on a $3,000 difference, and not, say, a $1,000 difference.

              Plus you're not considering the alternatives. If you're going to invest your savings, then so can I.

              I could, from day one, easily begin banking the savings gained from one $60 tank of gas a month vs. FOUR tanks of gas per month ($240 in the SUV I'm driving now), whichs saves $180/m or $2,160/y. Put $180 per month in the bank for six years, compounded at 5%, and you get $15,077, whereas you only made $4,020 on your inital "savings" of $3,000. Some savings.

              Now, you're going to say that I need to be considering a more comperable "alternative", like, say a Jetta TDI. But a TDI only gets 45/mpg, its fuel costs are roughly 15% higher in the US due to the price of diesel, and the diesel version of the Jetta cost about $1,500 more than the gas version. Plus there's a waiting list and dealer premuim for those as well. All of which means that the Jetta comes out on the bottom when you run the same kind of numbers.

              Finally, you're assuming that the guy who saved $3,000 invested it. From my perspective, it's equally likely the idiot put $3,000 down on a $5,000 72" flatscreen TV, and is now paying down his credit card at 18% interest. Compounded daily.

        • by sampson7 (536545) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:48AM (#24884543)
          My 2002 Prius probably cost me more than a comparable non-hybrid car would have. But I love my hybrid -- and the reasons have nothing to do with economics and everything with being a nerd.

          1. I drive the most advanced and highly engineered car on the road today (well, other than other hybrids). The engineering in my Prius is far more advanced than anything BMW or Mercedes throws into their cars.

          2. I can drive silently on electric power only. Do you have any idea how cool that is? The freak'n car shuts off at traffic lights! If I go gently on the gas, I can drive 30/40 MPH on electric only and the car is SILENT!!! So freak'n cool. I've been dreaming of electric cars since I was a kid -- and I now have one (sorta)!

          3. I feel good about having supported a fledgling environmentally beneficial technology with my dollars. My purchasing decision in 2002 played a part in revolutionizing the car culture in this country and the world.

          4. Nerdy chicks dig Priuses.

          5. I drive a damned reliable and cheap to operate automobile that I enjoy driving.

          In short -- economics was largely irrelevant to my decision. Instead of buying a sports car (also generally an economically irrational decision), I decided to go the hybrid route. Actually, when I analyzed purchasing the car, I conservatively assumed that I would get 60,000 miles from the car before it started falling apart or incurred expensive repairs. I also assumed that the car would have no re-sale value, as I expected the technology would be largely obsolete by the time I went to sell it. Even with these "worst-case" scenarios, I bought the car because it was worth it to me to be part of the revolution.

          Of course, I'm now well over 60,000 miles and have had no troubles, but that's not really the point, is it?
      • Good advice, I won't buy a new computer. Mine works just fine! Just like my non-hybrid car that is fully paid off. Maybe I could donate that $500/mo that I would normally spend on car payments to some coral reef project or some other global warming related thing. Then I'd be way ahead of those hybrid guy. Plus donating to a charity gives me a way bigger tax break.

        • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:57PM (#24883807)
          We bought a brand new Camry hybrid last year (a 2008 model). We received a $2000 tax credit for it, which reduced are total tax bill by $2000. When you donate to a charity, you only get a deduction, which means you don't pay taxes on that $2000 (which ends up saving you around $400 in taxes, not the same as a tax credit). We were going to buy a new vehicle anyway, so getting the hybrid was really at no extra cost than a standard Camry with the tax credit. We also average around 55mpg in it, spending no more than $250/month in gas (and we drive around 2000 miles/month).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcrbids (148650)

          Is it really about cost?

          Around the corner, and down a mile or so from my house is a wrecking yard. They seem to focus on late-model passenger cars. They *always* have a couple of Saturns for sale, and they sell a TON of them, for between $2,000 and $5,000 each.

          For this, you usually get:

          1) Midrange mileage. ~50,000 to 75,000 miles.

          2) Clean body, paint, interior. They look nice, but usually have some kind of blemish on them. Everything "works" - A/C, lights, radios, heater, power windows, etc.

          3) Excellent mec

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Gordonjcp (186804)

            What are they? Salvage cars. They've been in an accident, they've been written off by the insurance company, and they piece them back together. Both of my sons drive them, they are excellent cars.

            It's worth remembering that if a car has been in even quite a serious accident *but has been repaired properly* it's perfectly safe to drive. We repaired a friend's BMW that was quite badly damaged, and when the engineer came to assess the repairs (it was actually that bad) he pointed out that we should have cut

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That's not even close to being insightful. In fact, that insightless. After reading it, the reader will have even less insight into the topic.
    • by SoapBox17 (1020345) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:56PM (#24883375) Homepage
      Your math was completely un-understandable: Ignoring all interest payments, let's say you pay cash for the car (a best case scenario): If you save $26 per week on gas, but you paid lets say $5000 more for the car. That means you earn back that money you spent on the car from the gas after about 200 weeks, or almost 4 years.

      Thats a pretty long time, but not unrealistic. You should probably be keeping the car for at least 5 and maybe more like 8 or longer years.... So if you kept it for 8 years you'd actually save $5000.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Robert1 (513674)

      Very true. I was in the market for a new car 3 months ago. I tabulated vehicles based on gas consumption, monthly cost to own, projected maintenance etc. Hybrids tended to have a minimal savings per month ~80-100 bucks~ but had a massively larger investment upfront were always smaller in size and had weaker engines than the cheaper gas car.(people seem to forget hybrids in addition to higher cost don't have good financing)

      Hybrids weren't worth buying even if the price of gas was 8 dollars a gallon. I projec

      • by rock56501 (1301287) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:26PM (#24884041)

        Hybrids tended to have a minimal savings per month ~80-100 bucks~ but had a massively larger investment upfront were always smaller in size and had weaker engines than the cheaper gas car.(people seem to forget hybrids in addition to higher cost don't have good financing)

        I hear this argument all the time (I own a 2008 Prius). I paid $24K for my car. People say that I paid $10K more than a Kia (or whatever compact car you want) so I will never really see the savings.

        The fact is though, that the Prius is a mid-size car and when you compare the features to other mid-size cars, the "hybrid premium" is only $3-4K. With gas currently averaging $4.30/gal here in Hawaii, I save on average $1200/year over the Ford Escape that I was driving. That means I will have the "hybrid premium" paid off in about three years.

        As an aside that 11 year calculation doesn't take into account what happens when you need a new several thousand dollar battery - they supposedly have an 8 year life-cycle; chances are you'll have to replace it and that pushes the break-even point out to 15 years!

        Toyota tends to make very reliable cars and their warranty on the Hybrid system (including the battery) is 8 years/ 100K miles (10year/150K in Cal). The battery costs $3K (incl labor) to replace btw.

        At the end of the day, I love my car. I dont care what other people think of it cause I am the one who drives it, not them.

        Also, do yourself a favor and talk to your bank/credit union, you will see that you will usually get better financing through them than you will at the dealership.

        • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:30AM (#24889601)
          I'm puzzled that people insist that the hybrid vs. non-hybrid choice is purely economics. When I buy gas, I'm sending money to Wahhabi terrorists who want to kill me, and oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia. I am directly sponsoring torture, terrorism, etc. If I divert that expenditure to a hybrid vehicle, some of my money at least is going to paying for better engineering, and funding a program meant to lower our dependence on oil, and thus our funding of terrorism etc. No, I don't have a Prius. My '91 Subaru, with the $200 per month of gas I use, are sufficient for my needs. I have more money tied up in bicycles than I do in automobiles. But if I were looking for a new car, my eyes would be on the plug-in hybrids. I wish I weren't so convinced that the major automakers and petroleum companies are sabotaging the development of electric cars. Yes, I've watched "Who Killed the Electric Car." Pretty nauseating.
      • Re:The problem is... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:03AM (#24884261)

        This October's Consumer Reports article "Which affordable hybrids save you the most money?" disagrees with you.

        Conclusion: "Despite their higher price, many models pay off after only a year" and some models "can save more than $4,000 over five years."

        http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/news/2008/10/affordable-hybrids/overview/affordable-hybrids-ov.htm [consumerreports.org]

        |

        You also complain that hybrids have "weaker engines than the cheaper gas car," forgetting that electric motors have much better torque than gasoline engines (eg. even diesel locomotives use electric motors) so higher horsepower isn't needed.

        |

        Finally, a reply to your battery FUD: http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=954363&cid=24883785 [slashdot.org]

      • $10000 difference? This cars projected price is $19K. So you must have went with something cost in $9K. What would that be?

        The only thing close seems to be stripped down Chevy Aveo.

      • by figa (25712)

        You forgot depreciation and federal tax credits. Consumer Reports ran the numbers [consumerreports.org] this month and came up with several hybrid cars that will save money over their non-hybrid equivalents. These were often the same model of car for a true apples-to-apples comparison. They claim that many hybrids will save money after the first year.

        There's a nice table of the results [consumerreports.org], but it's for subscribers. They calculate the total cost of ownership for a five year period, and they come up with $28,250 for the Prius and $29

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ucblockhead (63650)

      Why is it that people never use this argument when talking about BMWs? I don't get it. Pay $20k extra for a BMW, and no one says anything. Pay $5000 more for a Prius and you can't go a week without people telling that you aren't saving money. Are you saying that we should all by buying Hyundais?

      I didn't buy mine to save money. I bought it because it is a damn reliable car that puts less crap in the atmosphere than the average.

      • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:26PM (#24883569) Homepage
        Because nobody is trying to push BMW's as a cost saving measure?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gbjbaanb (229885)

          I think its more the 'environmental' measure. A BMW 1 series has all this fancy tech in it to increase its fuel economy (like shutting the engine off at lights etc), and as a result its got the co2 emissions down to 119g/km. Over here (UK) that puts it in the £35 tax bracket, so a lot of people (especially company car drivers) are buying them. It helps that it has a 1.8 diesel engine so it goes faster than someone walking.

          Of course, if people really wanted to save the planet and save on fuel they'd bu

    • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:12PM (#24883483)

      The problem is with hybrids is that for most you end up paying more than you would your current car:

      Yes, but a new hybrid isn't competing with old cars. Its competing with new cars. Your argument could be made of ANY new car. Better logic would be to subtract the gas savings from the cost of a new hybrid and compare that number to the cost of other new cars.

    • by Bombula (670389) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:31PM (#24883589)

      It's not as simple as just gas mileage. The other major factor is resale value. The Prius is currently (and for several years) the leader in value-retention. I could sell my 8-month old Prius right now for sticker price. You simply cannot do that with a Chevy Malibu or a Ford Taurus.

      So the calculus for the cost of owning the car depends entirely on what you plan to do with it afterwards. In my case, I'm financing my Prius and will sell it after 2-3 years and recover something like 1/2 to 2/3 of the sticker price. The total cost of ownership per month therefore ends up being lower than any other car of comparable quality/size/features.

      If it was just about gas mileage, you'd be right. But it's more complicated than that. So you're wrong. Sorry! :P

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sporkinum (655143)

      If you have your car payed off and spend $70 a week for gas, that is a total of $3640 for an entire year.

      On the other hand, if you buy a $25000 hybrid, you might only need to buy $30 of gas a week, but unless your car payments are less than $120 a month, you aren't saving any money by buying a hybrid.

      Or you just drive your old car more sensibly and spend less than $25 week on gas. Going from driving the way I used to, I got 28 mpg per tank. Slowing down and applying a few mileage enhancing techniques, I h

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MidnightBrewer (97195)

      That doesn't seem like a very good comparison. You're comparing the economics a car you've already paid off to one that you haven't bought yet?

      Let's compare buying two new cars with equivalent features, but one is a hybrid and one isn't and then see how the comparison goes. If my car payments are the same but one involves paying less for gas, then I go with the one with the cheaper gas. If the cheaper price of a non-hybrid is canceled out by the higher gas cost, then I at least benefit by using less of a

  • Screw this (Score:5, Informative)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:42PM (#24883259) Journal
    We need Diesel first. Then maybe double clutched diesel hybrid manuals, I don't know; using a torque converter is a horrible, horrible idea (coupling: 10% efficient. Acceleration: hahahahahahahahaha).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)
      Coupling is 90% efficient, not 10%. Oops. I don't think we'd much care about acceleration being less after that.
    • Re:Screw this (Score:5, Informative)

      by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:00PM (#24883413) Homepage

      Well, VW has double-clutched diesels in the American market right now. (For those who aren't familiar, the double-clutch design essentially allows a car to be driven as an automatic while preserving the superior characteristics of a manual, also allowing for millisecond shift-times.)

      Diesel fuel economy is arguably good enough that it don't need any sort of hybrid system. They're also decently fun to drive, which you certainly can't say about the current crop of hybrids.

      Unfortunately, VW probably has the double-clutch design patented to hell and back, and has no hybrid technology of its own. Seeing the two together therefore seems fairly unlikely. On the other hand, a diesel Golf/Rabbit should be making its way to American markets in a year or two.

      • Re:Screw this (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hendrix2k (1099161) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:37AM (#24884471)
        You mean something like this?

        VW Golf TDI Hybrid (from May '08) [autoblog.com]

        More info:

        69 MPG Golf TDI Hybrid [ecogeek.org]

        Though it will probably only be available in Europe for a while, it's still a step forward.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        While the double clutched transmission is a great innovation, the hybrid completely side steps it. Hybrids run on CVTs and electric assist. The electric motor's torque curve peaks at ZERO RPM.

        So if you have an efficient diesel engine you can forget all the torque worries and go for a hybrid without any conventional transmission, innovative or not. In fact using diesel engines to drive an DC generator and then using the electricity to drive a motor is a very very very old technology. Every locomotive you

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:43PM (#24883269) Homepage
    The original Insight got slightly better gas mileage than the Prius-- for people who don't need the room of the 4-door, it was a nice car. I wonder if the new one will also blow away the Prius mileage?
  • EEEEEVIL (Score:5, Funny)

    by evilviper (135110) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:46PM (#24883297) Journal

    In 2005 just 666 Insights were sold.

    Good to know Honda's merger with Satan Corp. is working out for them.

  • Almost bought one. (Score:3, Informative)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:49PM (#24883321)

    I almost bought one when it first came out but the test-drive was horrible. The rear-view mirror was unusable due to the design of the rear window/hatch. The main support cross-member completely blocked the view splitting the mirror in half. That left you with trying to look over the top of it (and seeing mostly sky) or under it through a darkly tinted 'lower window' which only left a view of the bumper of the car 5 feet behind you.

    I am 5'10" tall so completely 'average' by North American standards, but perhaps this car was designed to 'fit' an average Asian.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by davros-too (987732)
      I assume you're referring to the Prius. I agree. The font visibility is awful too. My Peugot 307 gets exactly the same mileage under my typical driving conditions as a Prius I hired for 3 weeks (5.5 to 6.0 l/100km) and is a million times nicer to drive.
  • Or maybe turnabout? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:53PM (#24883361)

    Honda should pick up Toyota's all-electric "dropped ball" and run with it. If memory serves, Toyota used to have a 100% electric car and stopped making it. Since ALL of my weekday driving is well within about 50 kilometres of home, I'd kill for one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CSMatt (1175471)

      The problem with current all-electric vehicles is that the battery technology that is most affordable (lead acid) doesn't last long, the most efficient battery (lithium ion) is too expensive, and the in-between (NiMH) is patented by Ceveron-Texaco and therefore will never be seen in an electric vehicle*.

      *Yes, the patents will expire in 20 years, but by then lithium ion should be much cheaper, making NiMH batteries pointless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jcnnghm (538570)

        NiMH batteries are going to be used in the 08 Chevy Malibu Hybrid. In fact, Cobasys has a large contract with GM*.

        *Energy companies want to make money, they don't give two shits how. You don't make money selling expensive large format batteries one at a time, you make money selling in bulk.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796)
        The Chevron patent in questions expires in 2014:

        http://pppad.blogspot.com/2007/05/nimh-held-hostage-by-chevron-texaco.html [blogspot.com]

        It's a moot point though. Li-Ion (or a variation of lithium tech) or EEStor's Ultracaps will have surpassed Ni-MH by 2014.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ironsides (739422)
      Chevy did that and is running with it. Go to gm-volt.com some time. Warning, fan boy site, but it's useful.
  • Uhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @09:55PM (#24883373) Homepage

    Why not just buy a Civic or a Fit?

    They're both pretty nice compact cars that get fantastic mileage (~34mpg) without any fancy hybrid stuff.

    For a good bit less than a Prius (which you couldn't even buy at the moment if you wanted to), you can get a car that gets better mileage, drives better, and is likely to be considerably more reliable.

    On the other end of things, diesels are beginning to make a very big comeback, as virtually all of the traditional downsides to diesel engines have been taken care of. The fact that they get 40+ MPG makes them pretty attractive.

    Also, now that the natural gas industry has woken up to the fact that there is a metric shit-ton of money waiting to be made by packaging and selling their product as automotive fuel, I imagine that we'll be seeing quite a few CNV vehicles in the upcoming years.

  • by momerath2003 (606823) * on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:13PM (#24883493) Journal

    Thanks, but I'll stick with my car that doesn't use 20 pounds of cadmium and which cost only $6000 used.

    Also, I'll walk and bike when possible.

    And I'm never, ever going to buy a hybrid unless it has a manual transmission.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:19PM (#24883519)

    The 1989 civic got 50mpg highway, [fueleconomy.gov] better than the Prius.

    Yes, we need extra safety items. Yes, those add weight. But all the advances made in improving efficiency have been burned away on power and sportiness and cup holders.

    50 Mpg TWENTY years ago.

    And no mention of a plug-in aspect.

    Very discouraging.

  • by Tmack (593755) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:25PM (#24883557) Homepage Journal
    Yeh, and the first headline when googled [jalopnik.com] is:

    New Honda Insight Hybrid Revealed, Expected $18,500 Price Tag To Make It World's Cheapest

    Dont know about you, but I would say thats a bit more detail on pricing, $18500, about the price of a standard/econo car these days.

    tm

  • by juventasone (517959) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:27PM (#24883573)

    Honda already has a car that is more fuel efficient than any car they sell in North America, and would easily out-sell the Prius. But they choose not to sell it in North America.. why?

    It's called the Civic CTDi. The Civic is already the most popular car in North America. It is less expensive than the Civic Hybrid, offers a heap more power, and has arguably better combined mileage. In fact, this engine was awarded "International Engine of the Year" in 2005.

  • by xutopia (469129) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:56PM (#24883803) Homepage
    I drove both the insight and then the prius. The insight started with gas motor by default so it made noise when you started unless you did more than 3 starts and stops in a short period. The electrical motor only kicked in at higher speeds (most of the time). The Prius did things the other way around. When you start it's electric only unless you push the pedal to the metal. Because of the way the insight started you never could hear the silence that makes driving the Prius so much fun. That and the insight had poor visibility behind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by afidel (530433)
      Actually to warm the catalytic converter the Prius will almost always run the engine at startup, this is to make sure that when it IS needed the engine isn't making too much NOX emissions. There is a way to override this behavior and have essentially a plugin hybrid but AFAIK it voids your warranty.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      The insight started with gas motor by default so it made noise when you started unless you did more than 3 starts and stops in a short period.

      The Insight worked that way because it had a normal transmission. It was not capable of moving without the gasoline engine turning (except when coasting in neutral with the manual transmission model).

  • by dinther (738910) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:18PM (#24883969) Homepage

    I own a real 2000 Honda Insight. It is an amazing car. Aluminum bodied two seater made to last.

    The low weight and the 990 CC engine with electric assist ensure that I am the one pulling away with spinning wheels at the lights leaving muscle cars in the dust.

    This new Insight although it looks like the original one, is a stock standard steel vehicle, high curb weight. Bigger engine on even bigger weight would mean less acceleration, poorer MPG and thanks to the steel body shorter lifespan. I test drove a brand new Honda Civic last week and came away less than impressed. Just another over sized car.

    I think the real Insight showed a vision of smaller more nimble cars as frugal with gas as a small motor cycle. No you can't carry 10 bags or cement it it but that is why it is called a commuter vehicle.

    The "new" "Insight" does not do the original car any justice.

    • by RedWizzard (192002) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:02AM (#24884255)

      The low weight and the 990 CC engine with electric assist ensure that I am the one pulling away with spinning wheels at the lights leaving muscle cars in the dust.

      Bullshit. Unless the other guy was asleep. 0-60 in 10.6s [insightcentral.net].

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014)

        I used to leave muscle cars in the dust at stoplights on my bike, however my 0-60 time was, roughly speaking, forever.

        0-20 is probably a more important figure for around town driving. 0-60 is what you need for merging from full stop onto the highway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frangible (881728)
      If you don't need to carry cargo, why don't you just get a bicycle with an electric motor? No taxes or licensing and is still considered a bicycle in most locations.

      I own an electric bike and a Honda Element, and think ultra-small hybrid cars aren't particularly useful. City commuting is most efficiently done by a bike or electric bike, and other tasks are best suited to a vehicle with more versatility and cargo room. Some days you DO need to carry 10 bags or cement.

      And yes, I live in a state with
  • by Joker1980 (891225) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:51AM (#24885765)

    This is purly off hand, but i drive a 2001 Golf but one of my friends has a prius. We have both come to the conclusion that a hybrid is only sensible if you live/drive in town. I live out in leafy surrey and given the runs we do i get the same MPG as he does (44MPG ish). Now obviously this is different in town where my fuel economy goes down and his goes up. I guess the point im desperatly fumbling to make is that these hybrids can be worse than a normal ICE if they are (i wont say missold) sold to people that will see no benifit from switching.

  • Full EV? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjonke (457707) on Friday September 05, 2008 @06:51AM (#24886333) Journal

    Aside from no mention of a plug-in hybrid, when are we going to get some full EV cars from the manufacturers? For my commute I don't need a fossil-fuel burning car at all, plus EV cars are inherently more reliable with far fewer moving parts, no spark plugs, no oil changes ever, etc. Almost no maintenance at all. Which, it would seem, is the problem, as manufacturers makes tons of money from parts and maintenance.

    If they can put out a small EV that has an 80 mile range, that would be more than enough for me. And they can - GM did it years ago with the EV-1. Surely with todays tech they can put out an affordable car that has similar range, and, for more money, much longer range if you want it, but most people don't need such range at least for a second car.

    EVs wouldn't be for everyone, but they would definitely be good for many of us. I really hope I can keep my 1997 Escort running until we finally see an EV from some manufacturer, as I really don't want to spend any money on another gasoline powered car for me, hybrid or not. If they don't, my only other option would be to pay for or do a conversion myself. The big problem with that is we don't have the best technology available to us at an affordable price and usually you convert a really old car. We need the manufacturers to build EVs because they can build them in quantity, get the costs down and the technology in our hands.

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