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Discussion Starter #1
Honda Shows Cost-Cutting Hybrid Insight Plant
Honda shows cost-cutting hybrid Insight plant, says more cuts due to battle Toyota's Prius


SUZUKA, Japan (AP) -- Honda's cost-cutting efforts were on display Wednesday at its plant for the new Insight, where 600 of the hot-selling hybrid models are churned out each day.

The Insight has sold briskly in Japan, largely because it is cheaper than archrival Toyota's longtime hybrid champion, the Prius.

But media reports that Toyota will set the price of the remodeled Prius lower than expected will force Honda to make even more cost cuts, says Norio Ano, who oversees the Insight's development.

"We will have to go back to scratch and review all our procedures from step one," he said.

Honda Motor Co. is out to make the Insight an affordable hybrid at $19,800 in the U.S., where it is set to arrive later this month. Starting at 1.89 million yen in Japan, it has been a hit since going on sale here in February, drawing more than 21,000 in advance sales orders as of March 23, according to Honda. That's about four times the company's target.

A price war is expected to heat up once Toyota Motor Corp. rolls out its new Prius later this year.

The current Prius, which is a bigger car than the Insight, starts at about $22,000 in the U.S. and 2.3 million yen in Japan.

Japanese media reports have speculated that Toyota will not only set the new Prius price lower than initially expected at about 2 million yen but that it will also continue to sell the current Prius, matching Insight's price.

It would be an unusual move in the industry, where old models are discontinued. Toyota declined comment on the reports.

"Those are prices we would never have imagined,"
Ano said of the reported Prius prices, adding that Honda would likely not be able to further lower Insight's price.

Reporters got a rare look at the assembly line producing the Insight at Suzuka factory, central Japan, which also makes the Civic, Fit and other models.

To reach production volumes unprecedented for a hybrid -- and lower costs at the same time -- Honda automated some production procedures, said Fujio Hara, a Honda official who oversees production.

In one corner of the plant, a special robotic arm was rapidly screwing in parts of the hybrid battery, a process previously handled by human workers.

In another cost-cutting move, the number of parts were also reduced for what Honda calls the "intelligent power unit," made up of the hybrid battery and computer parts that control the hybrid system, he said.

The line for the Insight was flowing briskly, allowing just 65 seconds for each procedure, according to Honda.

Honda began work on cutting costs about four years ago, studying the hybrid Civic, its previous hybrid model, to come up with the low-cost Insight, officials said.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Yaris Hybrid

Toyota has been pretty worried about the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid that is priced lower than the current Toyota Prius and will definitely be priced lower than the 2010 Prius. With competition heating up, Toyota has decided it will produce a new small hybrid vehicle that will be priced lower than the Insight.

According to Akihiko Otsuka, chief engineer of the redesigned 2010 Prius, Toyota is producing a small gasoline-electric car that will be a spin-off of the Toyota Yaris.

“We are developing a low-priced hybrid vehicle like Honda’s Insight,” Otsuka told Automotive News. “We are going to compete by expanding our hybrid-vehicle lineup to smaller hybrids, in the class of the Vitz and Yaris.”

Of course, it’s not a mystery that the Honda Insight Hybrid is much bigger than the Yaris.

Otsuka did not say when the Yaris hybrid will arrive but Nikkei business in Japan says it could arrive by early 2011.
 

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Toyota should really be concerned about the FCX clarity if only we could get the hydrogen pump infrastructure across the country.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Japan

Toyota has notified its Japanese dealers that it will price the new 2010 Toyota price at 2.05 million yen ($20,750 USD) which is right on par with the new 2010 Honda Insight. The move is Toyota’s latest response in the hybrid war between the Prius and Honda Insight.

Still, that might not be enough to entice treehuggers to go with the Prius over the Insight. Japanese dealers say that the base model of the 2010 Pius starts at 2.05 million yen ($20,750 USD) which is the same as a middle-trim Insight. The top-of-the-line 2010 Insight goes for 2.21 million yen ($22,370 USD) while the Prius runs all the way up to 3.27 million yen ($33,100 USD).

No word on whether if Toyota will make the same move in the U.S., but according to Automotive News, aggressive U.S. pricing is very likely. The 2010 Honda Insight went on sale in the U.S. in March with prices starting at $20,470. The third-generation 2010 Prius is expected to start around $24,000.

The current Toyota Prius starts at 2.331 million yen ($23,590 USD) in Japan.
 
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