The all-new 2009 Honda Insight hybrid will make its world debut in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The five-passenger, five-door Insight is expected to be the most affordable hybrid car available to date when it goes on sale in the spring of 2009. The Insight will utilize a new interactive, driver-focused fuel economy enhancement technology named the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist ™).


2009 Honda Insight. Photo Courtesy of Honda Motor Company

Eco Assist combines multiple functions including the driver-activated ECON mode. The ECON mode optimizes control of the continuously variable transmission, engine, and related powertrain components to conserve fuel. The ECON mode also adjusts air conditioner operation, increases the potential for engaging the idle stop feature, and increases battery charging during regenerative braking.

A feedback function uses a speedometer background color in the Multi-Information Display to provide real-time guidance on environmentally responsible driving. The guidance function uses the speedometer background’s color changing, three-dimensional appearance to indicate fuel efficiency in real time. Fuel-saving activities like smooth acceleration and braking make the meter glow green. Aggressive starts and stops that consume extra fuel make the meter glow blue. An economy scoring function further provides feedback about current driving techniques, as well as feedback on cumulative, long-term driving style. In particular, the scoring function provides cumulative, long-term feedback through graphic ‘leaves,’ which grow over time as drivers learn and implement driving practices that increase fuel economy such as smooth acceleration and braking. The Multi-Information Display also allows drivers to view fuel economy figures for the past three trips, as well as instantaneous and average fuel economy statistics. The visual nature of Eco Assist is intended to help drivers improve their efficient driving skills by making the hybrid experience more fun and rewarding.


Eco Assist System. Photo Courtesy of Honda Motor Company

The original Honda Insight pioneered hybrid technology in the United States. The new 2009 Insight will combine affordability with great fuel economy. The next-generation Insight will sell from under $18,500, priced below the Honda Civic. The Japanese-built hybrid will carry over much of the hatchback styling from the Honda FCX. Inside, the Insight will appear similar to the Prius with a flat floor and larger space. Honda will equip the new hybrid with the same 1.3-liter inline four cylinder engine found in the current-generation Honda Civic Hybrid. Although the new Insight will be based on the Fit, it will measure 3 inches longer and 1 inch wider. Engineers are predicting that the Insight’s fuel economy could top 70 miles per gallon! Honda plans to build 200,000 units annually, with half of that production to be sold in the United States.

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