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Insight to lead Honda's Aussie hybrid assault

Sight beyond Insight: Honda will position the Insight II significantly beneath the Toyota Prius’ $37,400 pricetag in Australia.

Honda plans Insight for late 2009, with CR-Z, Jazz hybrid and Euro diesel to follow

8 Oct 2008

HONDA’S fourth hybrid for Australia – and the second to wear the Insight nameplate – will be launched in the last quarter of 2009.

It will then be followed by a petrol-electric hybrid version of the recently launched second-generation Jazz light car, along with the production version of the CR-Z hybrid sportscar that debuted at the Tokyo motor show in October 2007.

There is even a chance that the pair might debut together with the Insight at the end of next year, ahead of a diesel-powered version of the Accord Euro, which is expected to spearhead Honda’s diesel car strategy in Australia from 2010.

Speaking to the Australian media at last week’s Paris motor show, Honda Australia boss Yasuhide Mizuno confirmed that the production version of the Insight Hybrid Concept is now well on its way.

“We cannot say the exact date, but definitely we will include this model into Australia,” Mr Mizuno explained.

“The timing, to be frank, is still to be decided. We are talking about homologation (and other) issues ... with our (research and development) people, so we are finding that it will be the end of the year 2009.” However, Mr Mizuno would not be drawn on the expected price of the Insight, saying that ‘costings’ ex-Japan and fluctuating exchange rates are making accurate price predictions impossible.

Nevertheless, a sub-$30,000 price is likely for Australia, at least for the entry-level model.

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“This is a very difficult question for me at this moment,” he said.

“I think that it might be cheaper than the Civic Hybrid, maybe a little bit closer to the price of the Civic 2.0 level (which in Sport guise is priced from $30,490). (This) is the target pricing for this car.” Mr Mizuno explained that the Insight’s extended range technology helps make it less expensive to produce than the Toyota Prius, which kicks off from $37,400 and extends to $46,900 for the well-equipped i-Tech version.

The Honda boss also stated that the Australian arm will definitely be pricing the Insight “to make money” and not have the car as a loss-making image leader.

Furthermore, Honda Australia will look at every hybrid variation it makes in the future as it responds to the Federal Government’s support for hybrids in Australia.

Mr Mizuno is confident that both the Jazz hybrid and CR-Z will not be too far behind the Insight for Australia.

“We plan to be (launching the Jazz Hybrid),” Mr Mizuno said.

“As we have in the last couple of years, we plan to introduce several hybrid line-ups into the Australian market.

“We are trying to follow the policy (of the Australian government), so the Jazz hybrid is also a likely starter (for Australia). We will try to do this model.” However, Mr Mizuno ruled out a hybrid version of the recently released Honda Accord large car, despite the fact that a version of the previous-generation model was sold overseas between 2004 and 2007.

Instead, Honda will concentrate on diesels for its larger vehicles, and keep hybrid technology for vehicles in the small-car segment and below.

“No, at this moment, we have no idea about the Accord hybrid,” Mr Mizuno stated.

“Our policy is that small cars like the Civic will be offered as a hybrid, and medium and big cars will be a diesel.

“In the next couple of years, diesels will join the hybrid line-up in Australia.”

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