As Toyota readies the new next-gen 2010 Prius, Honda has been working feverishly to bring its own dedicated hybrid model to market — at a price point lower than the Prius — after discontinuing the Insight nearly three years ago. We've gone to our sources and put together the best of the rumors, suspicions and ruminations to bring you this comprehensive guide of what we expect from the new Honda hybrid that has yet to receive a public name. Even more speculatively, we've spared no expense to commission a rendering from the good people at KORSdesign to show what they expect it to look like. So hit the jump to see what we expect to see first hand at the Paris Motor Show later this year.
As far as a name, the one thing we're told it won't be is "Insight." As far as a sales target and strategy Honda plans to bring to market four new gas-electric models over the next four years, as part of a broad global strategy to boost hybrid sales to 500,000 units by 2012. To overcome the Prius as the current hybrid champ, Honda has ditched the two-seat coupe format of the previous generation hybrid-only model and added a couple doors. This isn't necessarily a bad thing — the added size gives increased passenger room front and rear, and interior volume similar to the current Civic Sedan. The larger model also allows for a larger battery pack as this hybrid will likely use a battery system similar to GM's Chevy Volt, with a small 1.3-liter gasoline (or alternative fuel — we're still not entirely clear on what other tricks may be up Honda's sleeves) engine — the same IMA engine from the Civic hybrid — to power the battery pack for extended range. We've also been told to expect said engine to be mated to a continuously variable transmission. We even expect Honda may have a trick or two to take advantage of the current PHEV trend as well, giving the "Insight" a short driving range on pure battery power. But that part is pure speculation. Although the design of the new Honda hybrid sedan seems very similar to the current Toyota Prius, it's most likely due to aero requirements and not a blatant copy/paste of the Toyota. As seen in the most recent photos, the headlights will be horizontal units that pull rearward into a feature line running the length of the car towards tightly wrapped tail lights. Due to the aerodynamically efficient raked roofline, the rear of the car will feature a similar treatment to the hatch of both the first-gen Insight and the Prius to allow for rear visibility. Overall, as you can see from the rendering, expect the next-gen hybrid to feature similar styling to Honda's other alternative fuel lovechild, the FCX Clarity. Another issue faced by the engineering team is that the new hybrid is expected to be a global hybrid — meaning, expect it to be designed in such a way as to have it built to meet sales requirements in many markets. Honda's new hybrid sedan will be marketed underneath the Civic Hybrid in their lineup and we're told will carry a price tag of around $18,500. We'll see it in person when it debuts at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. You'll see it on the streets in April of 2009. Some say he has a tattoo of a Saleen S7 on his rear end. Others tell us he was born with a penchant for oil rather than his mum's milk. All we know is he's called the Auto Insider and he's always ready to provide the scoop from the other side of Eight Mile.