Honda Insight

Perhaps Honda can give some insight on how to make a winning model. The Honda Insight is a two-seater hybrid automobile produced by the Japanese automaker Honda. It was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle retailed in the United States, and at its introduction in 1999 achieved nearly 70 miles per gallon. According to the EPA, the 5-speed manual transmission variant of the Honda Insight was the most fuel-efficient mass-produced automobile sold in the United States. No doubt then, the Insight's engine won the International Engine of the Year award for 2000, and unrelentingly held the "Sub-1 liter" size category for the next six years. Not to mention, it was also nominated for the North American Car of the Year award for 2001. As if things could not get any better, the Honda Insight also features low emissions: the California Air Resources Board gave the 5-speed model a ULEV rating, and the CVT model earned a SULEV rating. The 5-speed's lean-burn ability is a trade-off which increases efficiency at the expense of slightly higher nitric oxide emissions. During heavy acceleration, the electric motor provides additional power; during deceleration, the motor acts as a generator and recharges the batteries using a process called regenerative braking. A computer regulates how much power comes from the internal combustion engine, and how much from the electric motor. In the CVT variant, it also finds the optimal gear ratio. To make things easy for the driver, the current battery charge is shown on the dashboard, as is the instantaneous fuel efficiency and current state of the electric motor, of which the options would be whether it was assisting the engine or charging the batteries. Behind the driver's and the passenger's seats there are a set of 144 V NiMH batteries that allow this technology to function.