Honda CEO challenges R&D team to build a better hybrid than Prius

Honda Motor Co’s CEO Takanobu Ito has challenged his R&D team to produce a hybrid that exceeds the fuel-economy of the Toyota Prius. Ito said that the new hybrid won’t necessarily be a next-generation version of the Honda Insight, but may be another vehicle that will join the company’s hybrid lineup.

“We want to develop and expand our hybrids,” Ito told Automotive News during an interview at the Detroit auto show. “We made some major sacrifices to shift people and resources to do that.”

He said that Honda is currently concentrating on expanding its small-vehicle hybrid platform and said that the Japanese automaker’s large-vehicle hybrid platform is not ready.

Honda’s top management has been disappointed by the sales of the Insight since its U.S. launch last March. Even though the Insight undercuts the Toyota Prius by $2,500, it’s fuel-economy rating of 40/43 mpg (city/highway) falls short of the Prius’ 51/48 rating.

Click here for our review on the 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid.

– By: Kap Shah

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)