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Honda Set to Kill Off Insight Hybrid

Maker shifting focus to new generation of hybrids.

by on Feb.26, 2014

Honda CEO Takeo Fukui (l) was one of those celebrating the introduction of the latest Insight hybrid.

It appears Honda finally is ready to end production of its dedicated Insight hybrid-electric vehicle as the Japanese automaker moves to address some long-festering problems.

News reports from Japan indicate Honda executives have finally pulled the plug on the latest version of the Insight, the successor to Honda’s first hybrid model originally introduced in 1999.

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The likely demise of the Insight has been the subject of rumors for months and appears to reflect Honda’s inability to generate much consumer interest in the model which was once seen as the maker’s answer to the Toyota Prius.  Toyota’s hybrid was the best -selling vehicle in California last year and dominated sales charts in Japan, as well, while the Insight was never in the hunt.


Honda Goes Solar

Partnership promises to deliver sun power for less than the local electric utility charges.

by on Feb.21, 2013

Honda has had an ongoing interest in solar power, such as this sun-powered hydrogen station at its LA research center.

The first automaker to offer a hybrid-electric vehicle in the U.S. market, Honda is diving even deeper into renewable energy with a project it says could make solar power affordable for its dealers and customers.

The goal of Honda’s new partnership with SolarCity is to make energy from the sun less costly than utility-supplied power, according to the carmaker – which has set up a $65 million investment fund to back the project.

“We believe Honda and Acura customers are going to be very interested in going solar once they find out that they can install solar at their home with little or no upfront cost, can lower their monthly utility bill, and can make a positive contribution to protecting the environment,” said Steven Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

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Founded by brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive in 2006, and headquartered in San Mateo, California, SolarCity provides a wide range of sun-powered technologies, including commercial and residential solar energy arrays, as well as solar charging stations for electric vehicles which Honda says it also is “envisioning” for its future EV and plug-in hybrid customers.


Revolution on Wheels: Honda’s New Hybrid SH-AWD System

Maker looking to transform its powertrain line-up.

by on Dec.08, 2011

Honda is coming up with a 3-motor hybrid version of its SH-AWD system

It’s been a tough year for Honda: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, production shortages.  And bad reviews.  The maker has taken a series of dings from the likes of Consumer Reports, no less, which panned its latest Civic model.  In some ways, that’s worse than the sharp downturn in Honda earnings in recent months. spent the better part of a week with mid-level and senior executives, all the way up to President and CEO Takanobu Ito to get an inside look at the company’s turnaround plans – which include a rapid fix of the much-maligned new Honda Civic.  But much of the effort revolves around a dramatic transformation of the Honda powertrain line-up. This is, after all, a company that likes to say it’s in the business of building engines, first and foremost.

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The new line-up includes both advanced gasoline and alternative propulsion systems – one of the most intriguing being a gas-electric version of Honda’s innovative Super Handling-All-Wheel-Drive system, or SH-AWD, a 3-motor system that we had a chance to take for the proverbial spin on the Twin-Ring Motegi race track a few hours outside Tokyo.


Honda Bringing New Battery Car, Plug-In To LA Auto Show

Maker switching direction from focus on light hybrids.

by on Oct.27, 2010

Honda is moving into electric power but will continue to push its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity, the maker says.

Confirming a corporate switch in direction, Honda Motor Co. President and CEO Takanobu Ito will pull the wraps off a pair of new battery cars at the upcoming Los Angeles Motor Show.

While the maker is saving specific details for the November 17th unveiling, it has confirmed that the preview will highlight both a battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, as well as a plug-in hybrid model.

The unveiling underscores Ito’s recent pronouncement that Honda will expand its range of options within the burgeoning electric car market.

Until recently, the maker steadfastly refused to move beyond the mild hybrid approach taken with such models such as the Honda Insight, CR-Z  and Civic Hybrid.  The Honda Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA, system was designed to recapture energy normally lost during braking and coasting, then reuse it to provide an added boost during vehicle launch and acceleration.  But unlike some competitors, like Toyota, with the Prius, Honda’s hybrids could not be run on electric power alone, even for short distances.

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Honda appears to have been reluctant about plug-ins and pure battery-electric models for similar reasons that delayed Toyota’s planned entry into such segments: the capabilities and the cost of lithium-ion batteries.