Last year Toyota sold 158,884 copies of the Prius; it hopes to sell 187,000 in 2010. Honda hopes to build 200,000 of its new Insights, half of which will be available in the U.S. beginning in April. Both companies are setting the table for a power lunch, since the cars are aiming at virtually the same market.
However, the Insight is cheaper (at around $20K, some 20% less than Prius), a little sportier, maybe a little better looking, with not quite as good mileage (41 mpg combined vs. the Prius’s 46). Except for its Civic Hybrid powertrain, the Insight is basically a Honda Fit with a new Prius-like body.
And everybody loves it, not least because it’s challenging Toyota’s long dominance in hybrids. But remember, Honda landed on these shores with the first hybrid, the smaller version of the Insight that a lot of people also treasured.
The iconic Prius enters its third generation with more power, better mileage, better acceleration, and a host of features, extras, and improvements over the earlier version. It’s larger and has some new styling touches. The press swarmed all over it at Detroit, reviews have been uniformly excellent, and its selling points of quality and tech leadership remain viable.
Ford’s new competitor, the Fusion Hybrid, also wants a place at the table. This is a midsize car, not a compact, that gets 41 mpg city/36 highway). That certainly gets it within shooting distance of its rivals and brings another target into view, the Camry Hybrid. The car can do 47 mph on the electric motor only, faster than the competition, giving it better performance and economy in that range. Batteries are 20% more effective than those used in the Escape. And its price will be somewhere in the $27K—Prius’s range.
Wouldn’t it be a gas if Ford, with no bailout money, could take at least a piece of the hybrid pie next year?
Do you think Ford can build a successful hybrid? What will it take?