By on December 2, 2010

So check it out. I tried every approach to living, I tried it all. I haven’t tried every thing, but I’ve tried every approach. Sometimes you don’t have to try everything to get the approach the same. But… — John Mayer, rambling in a throughly demented fashion at a concert

Honda has tried every approach to selling hybrids. There was minimalist sportiness (first-gen Insight), complete anonymity (Civic Hybrid), max-power range-topping (Accord V6 Hybrid) and lolz-at-you-when-you-thought-you-were-getting-a-CRX-successor (CR-Z). For 2011, Honda is trying the final approach: save up to $611 over the course of your ownership with hybrid technology!

The economic justification for the repriced Insight is complicated. If I wrote for Autoblog, I’d take the effort to try to crib it into my own words, freshman-paper style, but here I’m free to just cee und pee:

Even though the 2010 Insight was priced below the Toyota Prius, the industry’s best selling hybrid vehicle, the price did not make economical sense at low gas prices when compared to some non-hybrid vehicles.

However, at $18,200, the new entry-level Insight begins to make the hybrid purchase economical at today’s gas prices.

The average length of new-vehicle ownership is 63.9 months. This means that on average new-vehicle owners will amass between 64,000-80,000 miles on their vehicle before trading it in.

An entry level 2011 Civic sedan automatic has a manufactured suggested retail price of $16,605 and posts an estimated combined 29 miles per gallon. All 2011 Insights are automatic and post an estimated combined 41 mpg. The break-even point at today’s average gas price of $2.75 is just below 58,000 miles, giving the average new-vehicle owner a savings of $139-$611 during expected ownership.

Of course as gas prices go up, so do the savings. At $4.00 a gallon, the average new owner of an entry-level Insight would save up to $1,600 in gas costs during ownership versus an entry-level Civic sedan automatic.

The base level Prius has an MSRP of $22,800. Although the entry-level Prius has some standard features not available on the entry-level Insight, such as cruise control and alloy wheels, many buyers will surely sacrifice certain amenities to save $4,600 on the sticker price.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates Prius II will receive a combined 50 mpg, 9 mpg more than the Insight. Based on the same comparisons used above between the Civic and Insight, Prius owners will save $1,400 in gas cost at $4.00 a gallon if they own the vehicle for 80,000 miles. Prius owners would still be -$3,200 versus the Insight after deducting potentially the highest level of fuel savings.

So there you have it. If you are willing to sacrifice a bit, you can save a bit with the Insight. Any takers?

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37 Comments on “NOW How Much Would You Pay? 2011 Insight Drops to $18,200...”


  • avatar
    Ronman

    No

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      @Jack Baruth:

      The so called ‘comparison’ from Autoblog is clearly flawed, which by itself isn’t unexpected from Autoblog:

      The ‘entry level’ Civic model does not come with A/C or stereo system (or power door lock, mirrors, remote entry or ESC) which are included in Insight. Tell me, nowadays, who is going to buy one without A/C or stereo for personal consumption?

      Too bad, TTAC follows the wrong path and takes some cheap shot. I couldn’t imagine a few years ago the authors and editors of this site would fall this low.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Add in the Greenie gizmodo fashionista factor.  That alone must be worth a couple of pennies per year.

  • avatar
    JasonH

    If we continue to not buy them will Honda continue to drop the price?

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      This makes economic sense when priced head-on with the Civic. But, even at this lower price – $600 savings if I own it FIVE YEARS?? Seriously? Not to mention that the current Civic has been on the market since, what, 2007? So I could buy a three-year-old model for $10,000 and get the same fuel mileage as the 2010 Civic, which is still only $600 more over five years than a brand new Insight. And, of course, the Civic isn’t the highest-MPG non-hybrid on the market…

      I’m in the minority in finding the Insight a reasonably attractive vehicle (nobody is going to call the current crop of C-segment cars beautiful, except perhaps GM’s ad department speaking about the Cruze), but it’s just not economically viable for the average consumer. Plus, how well will the mileage stay throughout the life of the hybrid powertrain? Even with Honda’s recent cost-cutting self-immolation, the Civic is a tried and tested platform with reliable technology that should get the same mpg even five years from now. The Insight is an unknown.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Perhaps Honda will abandon their failed IMA system, and go back to making small, light, efficient ICE-powered cars.

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    Even if wanting a slow and crappy little car, and wanting to save money, why would a sane person purchase an Insight?

    You can get a Chevy Aveo for $10k.  That’s $8k below the Insight soapbox.  You can put a lot of gas with 8k.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Waiting for a decent power train.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Robert makes a good point.  I wonder what kind of mileage we’d see if Honda reintroduced the Insight with a small turbo DI engine with start/stop technology.  Probably better, and the driving dynamics would be much improved owing to the 300 lb weight savings.
       
      I also take issue with the comparison to the Civic.  The Insight is based off the Fit’s platform, so why not compare to the Fit,… in which case the economics aren’t there.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Not me. I have a difficult time justifying any hybrid, as I feel as if I’m driving someone else’s science project, plus, dragging all the extra weight arount doesn’t make sense to me at this point. I never say never, however. Just not right now at any price. It’s kinda like my uncle saying many years ago that he would only buy a color TV “when they finally perfect it”. I’ll probably change my tune when gas gets to and stays at $4.00/gal & up, then it’ll be a different world, anyway.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    Not that I’m an expert, but I think this move is evidence that Honda doesn’t understand this market segment.  I suspect that the typical hybrid buyer is at least somewhat more affluent than average and would be more concerned about the loss of standard features such as cruise control than they would be about saving a few hundred dollars.
     
    I have to agree with an early post, if you have a hybrid buyer who is this price-sensitive, that buyer will be looking at used cars not decontented Insights.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinx

      I use a 2010 Prius as a daily driver – and you are right that saving a few hundred dollars does not matter all that much.
       
      However, I hardly ever (more like never) use the cruise-control in normal driving – the strength of a hybrid is in stop-and-start driving – in those situations the CC is worse than useless since there isn’t much ‘cruising’ going on, and the CC does not optimize for fuel-economy anyway.  And for someone who is driving mostly on an expressway, a hybrid of this sort does not make much sense.
       
      I was partial to Honda to start with, but what made me (and I suspect other affluent hybrid buyers) choose a Prius over an Insight was the relatively better build-quality and seriously better refinement of the Prius.  It is smoother, quieter and generally a better feeling interior – and it gets 125% the MPG of the Insight.
       
       

  • avatar
    obruni

    new elantra and fiesta give you 40 mpgs with lower base prices and better driving experiences (well, the fiesta anyway)
    i’ve struggled to see the point of this car, especially given that the civic hybrid is still in production.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      Too bad that both Elantra and Fiesta struggle to get 30 mpg in city cycle while Insight got 40 mpg, i.e. 133% of what Elantra and Fiesta attain.

      If you never face a traffic light and congestion during your commute, hybrid is not for you.

  • avatar

    I didn’t think any manufacturer offered the stereophonic experience of a 2 speaker radio any more.  Honda has jumped the shark.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Honda’s waste of time on their hybrids have really hurt their overall company.  Where other OEMs have focused most of their time on increasing their mpg of all cars they sell Honda and Toyota goes down the path of selling halo hybrid cars to offset their waning competitiveness (they used to be the top fuel efficient non-hybrid cars).  The Ridgeline gets mpg of a v8 but without the power and heavy dutyness.  The TSX got the generic corporate v6 thrown under its hood b/c once brilliant Honda engineers could not solve the emissions problem with an automatic transmission to sell to US customers.  Honda instead did the lazy thing and spurned it entirely on this side of the pond by shoehorning its.  Honda bring us great diesels would have differentiated them from all other Japanese OEMs.
     
    Honda just doesn’t get it.  They love the ability to market that they are a green company and their cars are best for the environment but in a sense it is ironic as manufacturing of hybrids create more greenhouse gasses in production.  I highly doubt they will ever make up those greater emissions with just slightly better fuel economy than an already fuel efficient car (i.e. Fit or Civic).  Plus with a $3-$5k markup over an already fuel efficient non-hybrid it doesn’t make dollar sense (I don’t consider a federal tax credit as a plus b/c all it does is offset costs to the buyer and that $ comes from our pockets and helps reduce our ability to pay down our national debt or more foreign oil).  Then there are the batteries which will need to be recycled (but given the opportunity I can see many will just be thrown away or let to leak when the car is too expensive to fix / drive anymore) and new ones manufactured in their place.  And yes a lot of those hybrid components do require more rare earth elements (for magnets and battery components).
     
    Then look at the success of Honda’s hybrids where the Prius sells more in one month than all other Honda hybrids combined – some months the Prius sold up to 4-5x more.  If you look at the Insight that is 1 year old now.  Almost all dealers now have to throw incentives on the hood to sell it – you can get up to $2k-$3k off sticker in my area.  Then there’s the new Insight Dx model where Honda admits it has once again fallen well short of sales expectations and hoping a stripper model (lol) will sell.
     
    Honda’s constant distraction with hybrids have severely hurt its ability to compete – where its competition has surpassed it in overall fuel economy in the high volume sales.  Hyundai is the perfect example.  Good styling, more efficient engines using GDI and turbos, increasing quality now has made Hyundai the most fuel efficient automaker in the US – and they still have not sold a hybrid (yet).  Honda has lost its way and its management is obtuse to this fact.  It no longer embodies the passion of its late founder and seems to think that selling lab experiment cars is what the buying public wants.  It is not as the core Honda customer has always wanted a fun to drive, well built, efficient car (fuel and space wise).  Food for thought – can anyone here make an argument about the untold millions (maybe a billion) in profits Honda has spent on its hybrid program and whether their sales volume has returned those investments?  I don’t have access to those books but it must be bad.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    How much would I pay for an Insight? Nothing. I would be rewarding Honda for trying to fool customers with beancounter-developed crap. Honda mailed this one in, and they deserve the lumps they’re taking on it. After it fails, they can put it on the shelf next to their five-speed automatic transmissions, Acura designs, CR-Z chickmobile, and me-too Accord styling.

  • avatar
    sfenders

    That’s cut-and-pasted from Honda themselves?  Whoever it’s from, they’re not to be taken seriously.  Using a zero discount rate is either financial illiteracy or intentional deception.  You can argue about what rate to use, but zero is not it.  Money today is not equal to money five years from now.
    Using what I think is a sensible 10% discount rate, you’re still in the hole by something like $800 after 6 years of Insight ownership in the lower-mileage scenario, and maybe just about breaking even in the 80k mile version.
     

  • avatar
    stryker1

    If you want to save money, buy fiesta. If you want to save the earth, ride a bike.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Honda may be on to something. With a base price that low or about what a base LS Cruze or SE auto Ford Focus costs, buyers will get there fuel economy advantage with the practicality of a hatch with 4 doors. With gas staying steady at near 90.00 per barrell cunsumers are already starting to get annoyed again with Wall street and the speculators. If the gas goes up anymore than it is, I would expect another resurgance of fuel efficient small cars.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    Honda has completely lost the plot.  Here is how Honda’s lineup should’ve been below Accord:
    1.  Current Civic – trash in the dumpster next to Ford Mondeo
    2.  Fit.
    2a.  Fit Si (1.8l VTEC)
    3.  Insight should be in place of the Civic, with Civic drivetrain, cool design, etc.
    4.  Euro Civic hatchback as the hybrid – different from Prius being a 2-door hatch, modern design looks, etc.
    5. CRZ with Fit Si drivetrain as a 2-seater alternative to Fit Si – for those who still miss their Preludes.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I think this is the right price for this car. It’s essentially a $1k option over the Fit Sport, and while I still think it’s a fairly awful car, that at least makes sense now. You know what would make even more sense? Putting that 6 speed manual in the Fit Sport instead.
     
    This is seriously the worst drivetrain you can buy in a brand new car today. I even gave it a shot in an auto CR-Z after not liking the Insight. I couldn’t even be nice for the salesman’s sake, it was shuddery, weak and disconnected. Honda now makes decent NA engines, but based on their available product they no longer deserve any special recognition as engine manufacturers in general. Hell, the best that can be said about the 1.5 in the Fit is that it does what VW’s 2.slow does with half a liter less, nice, but hardly bragging rights.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I agree that Honda’s hybrids have always poorly performed and are not worth the upfront costs when you can get something just as efficient, likely more reliable and cheaper to fix for thousands less.  I’ll take a Fit or Festa 5 door hatch over an Insight or Prius any day of the week and put those thousands in the bank and let it accumulate interest and use it to buy the difference in gas.  6 years later where I may use up the majority of that I’ll still be ahead and not have to change out an expensive battery pack.
       
      But I do not agree with the opinion that “Honda now makes decent NA engines.”  Honda’s history is full of absolutely fantastic NA engines that shook the foundation of NA engine performance.  Honda’s original VTEC engines (mainly their DOHC but also includes the SOHC) created a revelation in engine technology that was years ahead of any other automakers (in fact so difficult that most OEMs when to cam / crank phasing or simply as GM and Ford did rename their engine to sound like VTEC while doing nothing).  The K series i-VTEC was also a great step forward adding in cam/crank phasing (ability to advance / retard timing).  10 years ago the 2.2 i-CTDi (Honda’s European diesel engines) were the class of the field breaking numerous diesel performance / efficiency records.
       
      Where I see Honda falling short was with its v6 engines.  In the beginning they were near the top in performance and efficiency but have fallen far since as they are now long in the tooth.  I actually see Honda ceding now that their NA engines are no longer up to snuff as it seems that Honda put most of its best engineers working on hybrids, jets, robots, and other experiments.  Where most other automakers are making more fuel efficiency through direct injection; downsizing engines with smaller forced inducted engines; adding start/stop technology to non hybrids; etc.  Honda is still using a mid 90’s designed v6 engine that has only increased in displacement and added SOHC VTEC.  These engines give competitive power but average fuel economy; and Honda had 5 speed autos where most competitors were well beyond such with 6+ autos and working CVTs.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Crack Pipe…oh, wait. Wrong site.

  • avatar
    ehsteve

    They will sell like hotcakes if there is the slightest hint of an increase in gas prices.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      So will everybody else’s excellent cars, leaving the Insight and Honda’s hybrid aspirations in the dust.
       
      Honda’s other forays into hybrids have all failed miserably, even during times of high fuel prices.  Why they tried again with this vehicle is beyond me.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I certainly know a great way to save $18,200…and it won’t cost a penny.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    Nothing. Honda should give up on their hybrids and buy Toyota’s hybrid technology. Honda’s hybrid technology is just not as good as Toyota’s.
     
    I own a 2008 Prius and only drive about 13,000 km per year. Will I ever “break even” compared to owning a Corolla or Fit? Of course not.
     
    But do I enjoy getting twice the distance from the same amount of fuel as I use to get with a regular Camry? Do I enjoy knowing I am not polluting the air as much as most other drivers? Do I enjoy having a quiet car that turns off while stopped at a red light? Do I feel good coasting up to a red light where I catch up to the BMW drivers who seem to feel they have to race up to red lights to prove there is some reason to owning a car that costs them 2 or 3 times more than a Corolla that is the same size and has better reliability than their BMW? Do I enjoy trying new technology? Do I want to save the US from becoming a 3rd world country? Do I want to raise taxes on the rich?
     
    Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      “Honda should give up on their hybrids and buy Toyota’s hybrid technology”

      This will happen when Ohio State adopts blue and gold as their colors, when the Bin Ladens start wearing Jewish stars around their necks, and Bostonians start wearing baseball caps with NY on them.

      Honda just needs to get back to being Honda.  And as a reminder to everyone, this is the same Honda which was the only major carmaker that made money consistently over the past 3 years.  Just maybe they’re doing something right…

  • avatar
    rtt108

    Before getting too carried away with detailed cost comparisons based on EPA MPG numbers, you folks might want to keep in mind that peoples actual mileage can be significantly different than the EPA numbers.  I follow various car forums, and try to keep up on threads about actual MPG .. at least for cars that I own or am interested in.

    Hondas seem to be very underrated by the EPA tests.  Personally I’ve exceeded the EPA ratings on every Honda I’ve ever owned by quite a large margin (93 Civic DX coupe, EPA hwy 40mpg, actual 48mpg)(05 Civic LX sedan, EPA hwy 38mpg, actual 42mpg).  I can’t get up to the EPA rated mileage on my Toyota Matrix (EPA hwy 36mpg, actual 33mpg).  YMMV

    Here’s an expert from a thread on vtec.net:

    “According to 146 entries at fueleconomy.gov and fuelly.com, the 2010 Insight averages 45.7 mpg combined, which is 11.45% above its 41 mpg combined rating. 320 entries on the same sites put the 2010 Prius at 48.29 mpg combined average, which is 3.42% below its 50 mpg rating.”

    http://www.vtec.net/forums/one-message?message_id=940876&news_item_id=940857
     
    Not that I’m particularly interested in either the Prius or the Insight … I’m just throwing this out to be a wet blanket on your Honda bashing party.

  • avatar
    charliej5

    I bought an Insight back in June of this year.  I like it.  The first few tanks were not too good, but about 2500 miles, the mileage went up by 10 mpg.   I guess that I am not your usual commenter.  I drive at least 40,000 miles per year.  The Insight is a nice small economical car.  Also, I keep my cars for extended periods. The combination of long use and high mileage makes this car valuable to me.  My mileage around town is 44/45 mpg.  Cruising on the interstate at 80, 47/48 mpg.  On rural roads running around 65 mpg will be over 50.  This car will likely see at least 250,000 miles.  For me this car makes sense.  It is also fun to drive, being light and tossable.  It will keep up with traffic without having to run it too hard.  Six second 0 to 60 times mean nothing in normal driving.  The car does very well for its intended purpose.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Nice work, Jack. As a longtime PR man, I couldn’t have slung that Autoblog bullshit any better myself.
     
    Seriously, Honda is so screwed with hybrids.

  • avatar

    The cog-counting in auto trannies has got to stop.

  • avatar
    LimpWristedLiberal

    I think economists have shown that people will gladly choose an unprofitable option that exacts revenge or punishment.  So I will continue to not buy this car that isn’t a Civic Hatchback.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    I would pay 18 grand to not have to drive that POS, seriously. In the near future paranoid world-governments will probably make consumers pay a premium far a genuine ICE vehicle. Whether it comes from carbon-credits or a gas tax, the powers that be will look to punish us (and enrich themselves) for not being ‘green’. I will pay the green-mail in order to have a dependable, capable vehicle. Then I will burn old tires in my back yard as a passive aggressive protest.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

     
    Sung to the tune, “Hokey Pokey”
     
    You take a base Insight
    You take the floormats out
    You add your bogus fees
    And you PR all about
     
    You do the hybrid pokey
    And incentive like a lout
    That’s what this car’s about
     
    You start at eighteen two
    Transport is 7-5-o
    With tax and title on
    You’re hitting twenty don’cha know
     
    You do the Fed incentives
    And you take from Honda too
    End price is still too high.
     
    (Ok… but what if…)
     
    You got a Saturn Gen 1
    And get a Scanner Gauge
    You use a lighter foot
    And you exportin’ out road rage
     
    You put the eighteen thousand
    In some income driven stocks
    That’s what true Insight’s about!
     
    You do the hy… brid pokey
    You do the hy… brid pokey
    You do the….

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

     
     
    Sung to the tune, “Hokey Pokey”
     
    You take a base Insight
    You take the floormats out
    You add your bogus fees
    And you PR all about
     
    You do the hybrid pokey
    And incentive like a lout
    That’s what this car’s about
     
    You start at eighteen two
    Transport is 7-5-o
    With tax and title on
    You’re hitting twenty don’cha know
     
    You do the Fed incentives
    And you take from Honda too
    End price is still too high.
     
    (Ok… but what if…)
     
    You got a Saturn Gen 1
    And get a Scanner Gauge
    You use a lighter foot
    And you exportin’ out road rage
     
    You put the eighteen thousand
    In some income driven stocks
    That’s what true Insight’s about!
     
    You do the hy… brid pokey
    You do the hy… brid pokey
    You do the….
     

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