Honda Insight, the new hybrid car from Japan's second largest automobile company, became the first hybrid to be crowned Japan's best-selling car in April. Japan Automobile Dealers Association notes that 10,481 units of the Insight were sold last month, "catapulting" it from 21st place in March, as Reuters put it. Toyota's long-selling hybrid, the Prius, came in 21st on the list of best-selling cars in Japan.
While this may show that car buyers here are getting more interested in fuel efficiency, a lot of questions come to my mind:1) Why are the MPG figures for cars so difficult to calculate, and why do EPA figures underestimate how efficient the hybrids really are? (Check www.fueleconomy.gov for real world fuel economy data)
2) Why don't all cars have the kind of "Eco Mode" or Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist™) that helps drivers to save fuel by keeping track and rewarding you for being easy on the gas and smooth on the brakes? (For example, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan have similar gadgets - that Michael Graham Richard calls "pavlovian" regimes)
3) And if pushing the green ECON™ button can "modify various vehicle systems to minimize the vehicle's overall energy use—and maximize fuel economy," then why are they in the car at all?
Green Car Congress notes that this is the first time a hybrid model has been the best selling vehicle in Japan for any monthly sales period - ever.
Oh well, as readers of my posts here at Treehugger probably already know, I'm more of a train buff than a car fan. Still, this seems like one reasonably made vehicle that even I could learn to love.
Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp