Hybrid Car Sales Surge Along With Gas Prices

Sales of the Honda Insight gas-electric hybrid vehicle reached record-breaking levels in May, pushed in part by record gas prices. Insight sales of 903 were up 137.6 percent compared to year-ago results and topped the previous one-month record of 573 set in April.

The Insight will also be the focus of a new television commercial airing in late June, showcasing the Insight's industry-leading fuel economy and that the car's battery does not need to be "plugged-in" for recharging, a common misconception about hybrid vehicles. The television commercials will run nationwide and focus on the Insight's appeal to the driving enthusiast -- concentrating on the vehicle's technologically-sophisticated Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) engine, standard anti-lock braking system, racing-inspired seats and top-quality audio system.

"There is still a misconception among many consumers that hybrid vehicles need to be plugged-in to be re-charged," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of automotive sales for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "The reality is the Insight re-captures energy and re-charges itself. You treat the Insight just like a regular car, and it treats you to great gas mileage and a cleaner environment."

In May, a new version of the Insight began arriving at Honda dealers nationwide equipped with an advanced continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). With EPA fuel economy ratings of 57 mpg in the city and 56 mpg on the highway, the Insight CVT is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in America with an automatic transmission. The Insight CVT also meets California's Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standard, the most stringent exhaust emissions standard in the world.

The Insight has earned several accolades since its introduction in December 1999. The Sierra Club presented the "Environmental Engineering Award" to the Insight, making it the first vehicle ever to receive an award from the Sierra Club. In 2000, the U.S. EPA honored Honda and the Insight with its "Climate Protection Award" for leadership and technical innovation, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) acknowledged the Insight with its top rating for 2001.

In addition to the Insight, Honda will also launch a gas-electric hybrid version of its class-leading Civic, which is scheduled to hit showrooms in the spring of 2002. The Civic hybrid will employ the same type of technologically-advanced IMA system that powers the Insight, and like the Insight will not have to be plugged-in to an external energy source.