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Honda Insight Leads Japanese Sales Race in April

Low price strategy works. New Prius debuts next month.

by on May.11, 2009

Takeo Fukui President and CEO of Honda, right, and Yasunari Seki Development Director of

Takeo Fukui CEO of Honda, right, and Yasunari Seki Development Director of Insight at the debut where sales of 5,000 a month were projected.

The Honda Insight hybrid soared to the top of the registration list to become Japan’s best selling car in April, according to sales data this morning from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association. Insight ranked 21st in March, only the second sales month since its introduction in February. The Honda Fit ranked second in April. The sales ranking excludes mini-cars, which are limited to an engine size of no more than 660 cubic centimeters in Japan.

It is the first time in history that a hybrid model was the industry’s best selling vehicle in Japan for a monthly sales period. The Insight starts at about $19,000 there. However, the new Toyota Prius wasn’t on sale in Japan in April – it’s set for a mid-May introduction — so it’s too early to say if Honda’s low-price strategy is working. The Prius, which has a more sophisticated hybrid system, gets significantly higher fuel mileage.

Still, the undercutting of the pricing of Prius by Honda has Toyota playing defense as it scrambled and announced a low-cost version of the Prius last month with as yet unspecified equipment levels.    (more…)