2010 Honda Insight: The Road Ahead For Honda
January 25, 2010
Alright. So you're Honda. You've introduced the 2010 Insight, and so far it hasn't lived up to your expectations. Sales are below projections, and Consumer Reports gave it poor marks. D'oh! What's the big H to do? Here are three ideas on what Honda could cheaply and realistically do to improve its Insight fortunes.
1) Make sure the word is getting out. It's hard to say how many hybrid shoppers even know about the Insight, especially those who are keen on promoting their hybrid-ness. For many, the Toyota Prius is probably the only car they think of because it's been out so long. According to Automotive News, Honda is going to change the Insight's marketing from the previous lifestyle slant to one that focuses more on the car's features and benefits. That seems fine, but I'd also emphasize the car's ability to be a great commuter car (assuming points two and three get addressed).
2) Figure out a way to improve the drive. By this, I mean improve the ride quality, reduce road noise and retune the steering. The first two are especially important since it's what a lot of people complain about. They should be curable with some suspension tuning/tire changes and some extra sound-deadening. Hopefully fuel economy doesn't suffer, though, and hopefully the car doesn't become a mush-bowl to drive as a result.
3) Keep the pressure on price-wise. Right now the Insight LX has a $3,000 price advantage on the Prius II ($19,800 to $22,800). Toyota has said that it's going to come out with a cheaper (lower-content) Prius I, but so far there's been no official price announcement. Honda needs to make sure it maintains a strong price advantage to negate the Prius' superiority (perceived or otherwise).
Would these help? Certainly. Will they help enough to keep the Insight from getting clobbered every month in the sales race? Who knows? But it's a start.
You got any other ideas? If these fail, remember that Oprah is still on the air for one more year; maybe Honda can organize a car giveaway ala the Pontiac G6. Surefire winner, that one.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 11,579 miles