Hybrid car shoppers should all thank Honda for shoving its $20,000 2010 Insight in Toyota's face, because the world's best-selling hybrid manufacturer has just switched to bargain mode.
Automotive News reported today that Toyota will sell a hybrid "low-priced spinoff" of its subcompact Yaris below the $19,800 base price of the Honda Insight, which made headlines months ago for planning to undercut the $22,000 base price of the Prius (it's now $2,200 lower). The model won't be ready until at least 2011.
Despite a third-generation Prius that boasts a combined 50 mile-per-gallon EPA rating, a more refined interior, and a sportier powertrain that now registers a pulse, Honda has seen record sales for its Insight, which from the side looks almost identical to the Toyota icon. In Japan, Honda has reported more than 21,000 orders, soaring past the company's 5,000 monthly target since the car went on sale in early February, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Insight arrived at US dealers yesterday.
As gas prices dwindled since last summer's high, many would-be hybrid buyers have swayed toward traditional, cheaper fuel-efficient cars instead, as witnessed by last year's 10.3 percent drop in US hybrid sales. The current Prius - which had greedy dealers charging as much as $5,000 over sticker, Edmunds said - now has some genuine competition, including the $27,200 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid.
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