The Honda Insight is the Japanese automaker’s contribution to the green car revolution. It is also the first vehicle in its line to include its Integrated Motor Assist system. The first version of the Insight was produced from 1999 to 2006 and garnered the recognition as the most efficient car in the United States from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2000.
The second generation Insight was introduced in Japan in February 2009 and in the United States in March 2009. This latest version is a five-door hatchback vehicle and was considered as the least expensive hybrid vehicle in 2011 with its base price of just US$18,200. The Insight was introduced to the UK market in 2009 and became the most affordable green vehicle with a base price of GBP 15,940. These prices made the Honda Insight the best selling hybrid not only in the UK but in other markets as well.
The Insight is able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 10.3 seconds and a braking distance from 70 to 0 mph of 181 feet. The mileage of the Insight was at 38 mpg and has been lauded by Car and Driver magazine as “fun to drive” because of its superior handling, steering power, braking ability and the paddle-shifted transmission.
The second generation Insight is a five-passenger vehicle with the patented Integrated Motor Assist system power train. This system connects an internal combustion engine with an electric motor mounted into the engine’s crankshaft between the engine and its transmission. This design allows for lesser complexity, lower cost and space saving to allow the vehicle to accommodate more capacity.
The gasoline engine is a 1.3 SOHC I-Vtec four-cylinder engine that is highly efficient, lightweight and produces less friction. The engine is rated for 98 hp at 5800 rpm producing 123 pounds per foot of torque from even at 1000 to 1700 rpm. When the engine is at high torque but low rpm, the electric motor also contributes to power the vehicle with 13 hp at 1500 rpm through 58 lbs per foot of torque to the power train. These two power sources would assist the acceleration of the vehicle.
Another aspect of the hybrid engine is that the motor would become a generator during braking, cruising, deceleration and coasting to be able to recharge the car’s battery. When the engine starts, the motor would rev up to idle speed which would then switch to back up, a conventional 12 volt starter to start the engine on its way.
The IMA battery of the Insight is a flat, nickel metal hydride battery pack located under the cargo floor and the rear wheels. The battery provides 100.8 volts and is recharged automatically through the regenerative braking system.
Another plus for the Insight is it s ECO Assist system which is designed to provide guidance to the driver to maintain a fuel-efficient driving style. This system monitors and displays the effects of driving style to the vehicle’s overall fuel economy.