Japan’s Top-Selling Vehicle: Honda Insight

For the first time, a hybrid vehicle is number one among Japan’s bestselling vehicles (not including mini-vehicles), Honda Motor Company announced this week. With over 10,000 cars sold in April, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, the Insight came out on top among Japan’s new vehicle registrations.

Honda’s 2008 bestseller, the Fit, also ranked first in Japan during March 2009—its fourth consecutive month at the top since December of last year, until it was bumped to second place by Insight in April. This is the first time Honda has held the top two automotive positions.

Among hybrid vehicles, which are all but mandated by the U.S. government through perks, regulations and requirements, the five-door, hatchbacked Insight is expected to give Toyota’s Prius serious competition. Compared to the hybrid system for Honda’s Civic Hybrid, the highly-rated automaker says that the Insight's battery pack is improved, resulting in lower costs, lighter weight and a location which allows for more space inside the vehicle. The Insight features a 1.3-liter, eight-valve, four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, and it's equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Since it was introduced in February, the lower-priced Insight, with a starting price of $ 19,800, has been well received. With smaller internal components, Honda claims the Insight’s built with more versatility than the Prius. The Insight's interior includes 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio, Bluetooth capacity and a USB audio interface.

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