Fleet News

Honda's high-hope hybrid

SURPRISE interest in Honda's hi-tech Insight petrol/electric hybrid model has prompted company officials to rethink sales targets for both Britain and Japan. Business motorists in both countries took the company by surprise when the 83mpg coupe went on display at Motor Show stands in Earls Court and Tokyo.

Within a day of the show opening to the public, the company said interest from fleet managers had been above expectations. Nicholas Phillips, Honda UK's corporate sales manager, said: 'Initially, we aimed to sell or lease between 200 and 500 units a year, but response in London has prompted us to take a second look at our targets.

'We have already had more than 20 fleet managers visit our stand and they are showing serious interest. They like the technology and are particularly impressed with the fact that servicing and refuelling the car causes no inconvenience to the business motorist. Coupled with the economy and top speed of 110mph, user-choosers seem to like the idea of saving money as well as being environmentally-conscious.'

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder two-seater is intended to test the waters with motorists in the UK when it goes on sale in April and could lead to similar technology being adopted throughout the Honda range, a move made more likely by the Insight's warm reception at the show. Electric assistance for the engine lowers fuel consumption, to a claimed 83mpg, but still provides acceleration of 0-60mph in about 10 seconds. The car will benefit fleet drivers looking to keep their tax liability low when CO2-based company car tax is introduced in 2002, as it produces just 80 grammes per kilometre, the lowest of any production model in the world.

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