The first two hybrids to hit the US market back in late 1999/early 2000, were the Insight and Prius. Well, it is back to the future. Nine years later, these two hybrid titans will once again dominate.
The next Toyota Prius will be unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January 2009. The third generation Prius will be bigger and more powerful. The engine will grow from 1.5 liters to 1.8 liters—giving a boost in horsepower from 110 to 160—and the body will be three to four inches longer and about an inch wider. The combined US fuel economy rating will exceed 50 mpg, by keeping the weight down to current levels and re-engineering the powertrain to extend the range of all-electric gas-free driving.
The next Prius will not offer plug-in capabilities and will continue to use nickel metal hydride batteries, rather than switching to lithium ion batteries.
Right around the time the new Prius arrives, Honda will be shipping its revitalized Honda Insight—perfectly priced several thousand dollars below the Prius. At $19,000, the 2010 Honda Insight will be the most affordable high-mpg vehicle on the market.
The new Honda Insight will be more practical than the earlier Insight. It is a five-door hatchback with ample room for five passengers. The aerodynamic design borrows elements from Honda is FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle, and bears resemblance to the Toyota Prius is iconic hatchback profile. Honda is pinning its hybrid resurgence on the Insight—and plans to follow in future years with a Honda CR-Z hybrid and perhaps a Honda Fit hybrid.