Last post on May 23, 2001 at 1:42 PM
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Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Hybrid Cars, Fuel Efficiency (MPG)
Jan 20, 2000 (10:41 pm)
But Honda made two statements (from CNNfn site)…
- Increase in Insight production
- Using hybrid technology in a mainstream car for 2001 model (likely to be the Civic… perhaps something like Civic HX that was introduced as 1997 model to provide the first CVT car to us, and is still the middle model in the Civic coupe lineup, and then Civic GX)
Honda has promised launch of a car based on its concept FCX sedan (fuel cell) by 2003. Y'day I noticed in an environmentalist magazine that a version of the FCX concept is already out (wearing Honda EV costume), reassuring that FC tech will be out soon.
Insight would sell very well in Europe and Asia, as is Prius doing. It is the low volume that is hurting profits(?) so if they can put the concept into a mass production car, it will be much cheaper.
#107 of 257 robertsmax
Jan 21, 2000 (1:44 am)
I think it's the fuel cell is much more reasonable way to go. One car one engine will always cost less than the same car with 2 engines.
I don't think it's the small production scale that's hurting the profit. Just look at the S2000 roadster. I don't think Honda lost any money on that one even though only 5000 is built. Of course the amount of loss per car would be lowered if the production scaled up. But I think the biggest cost here is the components in the car. The amount of high tech engine, electrical engine, costly batteries, complex transmission, etc that Honda and Toyota puts into these babies are just too costly to be covered by $20 sticker. So if the production is scaled up, you might only lose $10k per car, but the greater number produced would cost just as much, if not more.
Honda is saying "it's going to increase the Insight production". Considering how few Insights have been built, it would have to be true in any case. But at the loss of $20K per car, you can expect neither cars would ever approach the production number of the Civic or Corolla.
I think it's entirely possible for Honda to put out a Civic HX with hybrid engine. It wouldn't be hard since the technology is there. And another good thing, HX trim has never been too popular, so the loss could be kept in control. But once there is the Civic HX hybrid, who would buy the 2 seater Insight? If this happens, I think the Insight would then be discontinued.
I think both the Prius and Insight are mostly public relations act, and a feasability test. After few years, it will be discontinued, or scaled back to a symbolic level (like Honda EV). After all, no corporation on earth is here for money losing business. Maximizing profit and keep the share holder rich is their goal.
I for one am waiting for the fuel cell technology. It's less complex (at least mechanically), cleaner (use no gasoline at all), more efficient (we don't have to live with 60 hp hybrid engine any more), and also be cheaper. GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda all massive programs on it. Ford said fuel cell cars will count as 20% of the cars sold worldwide by 2010. And I believe him.
Jan 21, 2000 (5:20 am)
First, I wouldnot believe an automaker losing $20K on each car. (I've not heard this from Honda, although they have quoted it that the car is not profitable). Secondly, I could see Insight as a concept, not a mainstream car. To be able to put a successful mainstream (mass production car) like Civics or Corollas, the technology has to be competent with the rest of the world. As I said earlier, Insight will make way for near future cars, and then, Honda has already promised FCX into production by 2003! What I mean is, if Honda would combine 1.6 liter VTEC (say the CVT version that puts out 115 HP) with boost at low rpms (electric engine develops all its torque at low engine speeds), it will be a great combination. Mileage will not be the best of hybrid vehicles, but perhaps 20-30% improvement over gasoline engines, and much cleaner. It is the stop and go traffic that consumes gas and pollutes the most, and this is where the electric engine will help. Regarding cost, I don't think Honda is losing any or much money over each Insight. Not sure about Toyota though but I don't always believe the statements made by their spokesperson (perhaps I don't like the tone... same goes for Nissan).
Civic HX is a completely different case. I see plenty of HXs on the road, and one of my colleagues wanted one, but it is not available most of the time. It is a nice value at $13-14K (power everything, auto, a/c, audio, except for cruise control which may not be compatible with the CVT technology for now).
S2000 is a different case where only materials differ, and some are even shared with hi-tech Hondas (Type-Rs and the NSX, example the engine technology, electrically powered steering, lightweight, tiny suspension system etc.), and with production of about 12K cars per year, the cost would be easier to control. In fact, Honda churns out fewer Integra Type-Rs than S2000s!
#109 of 257 well, we will just have to wait and see
Jan 21, 2000 (6:13 am)
I agree there is no concrete number on how much Honda and Toyota are losing on each vehicle. It's certain that they are losing money, even though the sticker is already considerably above other similiar non-hybrid products. The $20K is an estimate by industrial analysts. I don't think it's right on the money, but probably in the ball park. Eitherway, like you said, the Prius and Insight are concepts, not meant for mass production.
I agree that fuel cell technology will become commerically available very soon. I am encouraged by Honda's projection of a fuel cell car by 2003. Toyota lead the way in fuel cell technology with the world's first prototype in 1996 to carry it's fuel in hydrogen absorbent alloy. It also has the 2nd generation fuel cell technology, displayed first time in 1999 Tokyo Motor show. It's actually quite interesting. I was reading Toyota's technology news. With the second generation fuel cell technology, the Toyota fuel cell now has more capability than U.S department of Energy's 2004 target (it hold more than 1 kW energy per liter). Toyota stated that the R&D phase of the fuel cell vehicle is already complete, and it is already in the production developement phase. It won't be too long now. The major hurdle that remains, cost is one of them, securing reliable fuel source is another. But I can see by 2003-05, most manufactuers will have found or created solutions for them.
As for HX, I haven't seen on the road. Maybe it's more popular where you live. When I was shopping for a compact car last year, one of the HOnda dealers offered me a left over 98 Civic HX. There were 3 to choose from. It doesn't seem to be very popular here.
Anyway, we will just have to wait and see if these things catch on. Well nice talking to ya. Got to get some shut eye.
#110 of 257 Insight CVT and Prius in GT2
Feb 02, 2000 (2:00 am)
The brochure for the Honda Insight given to me this afternoon states that the CVT will be available as an option sometime later in 2000. That means a hybrid engine, and a hybrid transmission!
Since I drive 60-80K per year as a courier, the gasoline savings would be seen in about four to five years. People who drive long commutes daily, who put 30-40K a year or more on their cars, would see the gas savings well before the life of the car was up.
Interesting note: the Toyota Prius is available for 21,500 credits in the Playstation game Gran Turismo 2. It's strange to see the tachometer drop to 0 when braking or cornering with my finger off the accelerator. I was able to win a couple of races with it against VW Lupos and other small cars.
Feb 02, 2000 (2:05 am)
CVT is the rubber band transmission. It's a Continuously Variable Transmission, with no preset gears. See the January 1996 issue of Car & Driver for an explanation (Civic won 10 Best that year, and also Automobile magazine's Car of the Year), or maybe somewhere online might have it.
The Civic HX comes standard with a 5-speed, gets 37 city and 43 highway. The CVT has been available since 1996 on the Civic HX coupe, and it gets 34 city and 38 highway. Those are figures I remember from 1997 when I worked at the Civic factory in East Liberty.
#112 of 257 Europe Maybe . . .
Feb 02, 2000 (4:53 am)
Hydrids don't make sense in the US, gas is just plain way too cheap, even now. Even with the huge subsidies that are provided by maker, the numbers just don't add up.
I think Europe is the place they should be pushed - gas is 2 to 3X more expensive there. If they are offered there it will be interesting. The question is not whether people will want hybrids, but at what gas price? 3 bucks per gallon, 4, 5, 6, 10?!
Feb 02, 2000 (10:58 pm)
Hybrid cars will be used by environment conscious more than by money conscious in the USA since gas is cheap. There will not be big savings here in terms of money but when one would go back and think how much of the limited natural resource (gas) he/she burnt every week, the results would come faster. Small attempts like this are for advancements in the future. 5000 little Insights sharing road with 50000 Excursions (BTW, 95% of the time, both will have only one passenger) makes the "green" advantage insignificant. But, future Hondas could use the technology in the mainstream cars if the battery pack could become cheaper. Again, Hondas are not all there are, but then the rest will follow. It has to begin somewhere.
Feb 04, 2000 (4:42 am)
51 Insights sold in the USA in January 2000.
#115 of 257 hybrids
Feb 06, 2000 (2:45 am)
Few days ago I went to check out the 4Runner, (Chicago Suburbs) and my daughter noticed Toyota Echo. She was sold immidiately.! She said it is the right size and right amount of options. Even though it is sold below the manufacturers cost right now, it will pay off later. Not because of the environment (we don't have that much impact on it) but because of the loogic behind the the more economical car.