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Future Car - Toyota / Honda

Updated on September 19, 2009
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1999 Honda Insight2010 ~ 2011 Honda Insight2001 Toyota Prius2010 ~ 2011 Toyota Prius
1999 Honda Insight
1999 Honda Insight
2010 ~ 2011 Honda Insight
2010 ~ 2011 Honda Insight
2001 Toyota Prius
2001 Toyota Prius
2010 ~ 2011 Toyota Prius
2010 ~ 2011 Toyota Prius

Introduction

Sorry to join these two models in one hub, but neither company (Toyota or Honda) has a lot to say about the new models. Toyota in particular won't say anything about the upcoming Prius, but rumors abound.

Honda, for it's part in this, is a bit more forthcoming. But it's still hard to nail down information on future models. This may make perfect business sense. Both Honda and Toyota are well known in the United States for building reliable, high-milage, well-respected cars. Why sully those impressions with hard facts that customers may or may not want to know.

Both vehicles have come a long way since their introduction. The Honda Insight, originally introduced to America in 1999 is no longer a coupe (2 seater) but a four (4) passenger four door vehicle more in line with family needs.

The Toyota Prius has had substantial changes in body design and a vast weight reduction (some sixty pounds by some estimates) in the drive train while increasing horsepower. A truly remarkable feat.

This hub will be concerned both what is known about the 2010 models and what is rumor regarding models changes for 2011 and beyond.

The first thing that catches my eye is how similar both vehicles look to each other even though the Honda Insight is three (3) inches shorter. In fact, at first glace, you might think you are looking at the same car (see pictures upper right), but closer inspection of the badges will prove otherwise.

2010 Toyota Prius
2010 Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius

The 2010 Prius has much more graceful body lines to further improve aerodynamics. The new coefficient of drag is now reduced to 0.25 Cd. There is also a "hidden" spoiler under the rear bumper to improve stability at high speeds.

The new Prius is touted to get a highway EPA mileage rating of fifty (50+) plus miles per gallon. The improved engine now produces one-hundred thirty-four (134) horsepower instead of the original ninety-eight (98) horsepower. The new higher horsepower figure increases torque, which in turn, reduces the number of revolutions per minute to maintain highway speeds. The Prius has also done away with drivebelts with an electrically driven water pump. This also increases fuel economy.

The battery pack, electric motor, and drivetrain have all been reduced in size and weight while retaining previous efficiencies. Reduction in weight to these three systems represents an approximate twenty (20%) percent overall weight reduction in the three subsystems.

Toyota has also switched from hydrocarbon based plastics to plant fiber based replacements. Both kenaf and ramie are used as bioplastic replacements for petroleum based polymers.

In the process of this redesign Toyota filed over one-thousand U.S. patents.

Toyota expects to sell four-hundred thousand (400,000) units worldwide in 2010. The Prius is expected to sell for $21,750 here in the United States for the base model and $22,750 for the Prius II. The Prius II will sport fifteen (15") inch alloy wheels, improves the specification with 15-inch alloy wheels, vehicle stability control, cruise control, a keyless entry/ignition system. six speaker audio, and a "Touch Tracer Display" which is supposed to keep the driver's eyes on the road ahead when using steering wheel mounted climate and audio controls.

Rumor
I cannot verify or determine if any of the following is true, but rumors are rampant that the 2011 Toyota Prius will have;

  • Plug-in capabilities (something some owners have been clamoring for)
  • Use Lithium Ion batteries instead of NiMH (Nickle Metal-Hydride) batteries (this claim has been disputed, but not by Toyota)
  • A completely redesigned hybrid drive
  • Better warranty on battery pack (10 years or 150,000 miles)
  • Pre-collision system (an audio/visual warning system perhaps?)
  • Lane Keep assist
  • Parking assist
  • Prius derivatives that might include a 100 MPG city only version

2010 Honda Insight
2010 Honda Insight

Honda Insight

The Insight has come a long way since it's introduction to the United States in 1999. For one it is no longer a two seater coupe. Sales here were so sluggish (though many Prius owners drive their cars ALONE the Insight died due to it's limited seating) that Honda retired the model in 2006.

The Insight is slated to make a comeback, however, due to the popularity of it's nearest competition the Prius.

The new Insight has a coeffient of drag of 0.25, identical to the Prius.

Insight's mileage figures, via EPA estimates will be forty (40) mpg city and forty-three (43) mpg highway. British estimates are much more generous at sixty-one point four (61.4) mpg city and sixty-seven point three (67.3) mpg highway.

The new Insight features a gasoline engine producing ninety-eight (98) horsepower with a thirteen (13) horsepower assist from the DC brushless motor. The Insight will also feature the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

The Insight is slated to sell in the United States for $19,800 making it the cheapest hybrid available. Honda estimates that it will have sales of one-hundred thousand (100,000) units in the United States, but this figure may be adjusted down due to so many new models being introduced...both foreign and domestic.

New Features for 2010
Eco Assist (details are sketchy) will make automatic modifications to engine and transmission settings to improve mileage. The system will also give the driver an instantaneous feedback of driving habits to help the him/her improve mileage and let the them know when they are wasting fuel. The system even gives the driver instant feedback; the lighting behind the speedometer changes color to indicate fuel efficient or rough driving. It will even issue the driver "rewards" (leaf icons and a trophy) for frugal driving and can give the driver an instant recap of the trip at it's conclusion.The system will even give you a score for the last three trips.

The new Insight is three inches shorter than the competing Prius. Each of the three models LX, EX, and EX with navigation comes with air conditioning, power windows, a tilt-telescope steering wheel, a height adjustable driver’s seat, and 60/40 split/folding rear seatbacks. The high end EX Insight will feature a six speed CVT with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Rumor
Honda is rumored to be ready to present a hybrid Civic for the 2011 model year. Some of the features of this new car are;

  • 1.5 Liter engine over the current 1.3 L offered
  • A CVT transmission as well as a six (6) speed version

The 2011 Insight is rumored to have the same engine as above and/or;

  • Diesel upgrade to achieve eighty (80) mpg
  • Could use Lithium Ion battery technology
  • A sporty Insight CR-Z two passenger coupe

Specifications for Speedfreaks

Honda Insight
Toyota Prius
0~60 MPH in 10.4 seconds
0~60 MPH in 10.6 seconds
1/4 mile in 17.8 seconds
1/4 mile in 17.9 seconds
60~0 in 127 feet
60~0 in 120 feet
lateral G .79
lateral G .82
Honda is the winner despite having less horsepower overall. G forces were lower and stopping distance longer. That said they are VERY close.

This is the sixth in a series of articles on future cars.

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