The Honda Insight, the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle sold in North America and the most fuel efficient car in America, will add a model with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) beginning in mid-2001, Honda announced today at the EVS 17 conference in Montreal.
In addition, the CVT equipped Insight also is expected to earn California's Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) certification, the most stringent exhaust emissions standard in the world. "The Insight is appealing to a wide variety of buyers," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "We believe the addition of a CVT will serve to broaden its customer appeal even further." The CVT allows for an infinite number of "gear" ratios to optimize engine performance and efficiency. With the CVT, the Insight is expected to have the highest mileage rating of any car equipped with an automatic transmission. Insight models with the CVT are expected to achieve an EPA fuel economy rating of more than 50 mpg in city and highway driving, with a driving range of more than 500 miles. The 2001 Honda Insight with manual transmission earned top honors for the second straight year in the EPA's annual fuel economy ratings with an average of 64 mpg, besting its nearest competitor by more than 16 mpg.
The Insight has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Sierra Club's first-ever award for Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Automobile Magazine's 1999 Technology of the Year award. At the heart of the Insight's cutting edge technology is Honda's innovative Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid power system, which combines an ultra-efficient 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine with a powerful but compact 10-kilowatt electric motor/generator and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack for improved efficiency. Electricity is generated by regenerative braking during normal operation, meaning the Insight never requires an outside source of electric power. Providing for about a third of the Insight's efficiency advantage is its highly aerodynamic design and extensive use of lightweight materials including aluminum, plastic and magnesium. At 1,847 pounds (with manual transmission), the Insight's aluminum body structure is 40 percent lighter than a comparably-sized steel-bodied vehicle.
The sporty, two-seat Insight also features a comprehensive list of advanced safety features including dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and three-point seatbelts with pretensioners. The Insight's extensive use of aluminum takes advantage of the high energy-absorbing potential of the material, further providing a high level of safety for all occupants. The Insight earned a Four-Star rating for driver and passenger safety in federal government crash tests. In addition to meeting current safety standards, the Insight meets 2003 safety standards for side-impact and head-injury protection. Other security features include an Immobilizer theft-deterrent system and remote keyless entry. Additional standard features include variable-assist electric power steering; power windows, mirrors and door locks; AM/FM stereo-cassette player; and digital instrument display with readouts for battery charge, motor assist and fuel economy performance.