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Honda Insight Is No. 1

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Honda Insight

Honda Insight Is No. 1

Tom Aaron
13 May 2009

In April, the Insight was Japan's best-selling vehicle. Honda Motors sold 10,481 Insights. The low price of 1.89 million yen (approximately $18,900.00) combined with saving the planet, saving money on gasoline, and saving on taxes made the Insight the first hybrid car in Japan to rank No. 1 in monthly sales.

Koji and Emiko Suzuki had been thinking about buying a Prius from Toyota for some years, but they just didn't want to spend that much money on a car. Koji was not sure how much the bad economy would reduce his annual income and Emiko made very little working the register at Save On, the convenience store near their small home. When they went to their local Honda dealers, they were actually thinking about buying a smaller car.

They had their eye on the Honda Fit, which was ranked No. 2 behind the Insight. The Fit is considered a full-size car in Japan and is not included in the minicar category. Honda sold 9,443 Fits in April. A white demo Insight was parked at the door as Koji and Emiko walked into the Honda dealers with three-year-old Koichi in tow. White is the most common car color in Japan. Koichi immediately saw the hole between the hatchback section and the back seat, which was created by dropping half of the back seat down, and wanted to crawl through.

The salesman insisted he go ahead and started to tell Koji and Emiko all the virtues of the Insight including the tax rebate, great mileage of 30 km a liter (113.55 miles a gallon), and how they would help to save the planet. In addition, he concluded, the Insight offered lots of storage space and room for their family to grown. Koji, Emiko, and Koichi took a test drive. The car did accelerate reasonably considering the mileage and handled just like most other Japanese cars. And it was under the important 2 million yen barrier, unlike the Prius.

The Prius languished 20 places lower in 21st place in April due to the 2.33 million yen (approximately $23,300.00) price and people waiting for the release of the new Prius. Industry insiders speculate that Toyota will price the new Prius at ¥2.05 million to compete with Honda.

The salesman saw that Koji and Emiko were seriously considering the car. He offered to throw in a free sound system. After all, the profit on the Insight has to be much higher than the profit on a Fit. And the sound systems probably cost Honda very little. Koji and Emiko signed a contract to buy an Insight, a white one of course.

All over Japan, people just like Koji and Emiko are buying environmentally friendly cars like the Insight. Optimists refer to people wanting to do the right thing and reduce the ecological burden on our planet. Cynics laugh and refer to the power of government tax breaks and subsidies, the affordability of environmentally friendly cars, and savings at the pump combined with the high gas prices last year.

People may not specifically remember gas prices hitting 185.10 yen (approximately $1.71) on August 6, 2008, but people do remember the pain at the pump. With one gallon containing 3.785 liters that resulted in gas costing approximately $6.47 dollars a gallon in Japan in 2008. Koji and Emiko though the Insight was a good answer.

Yuichi, Koji's brother, laughed when he heard what they bought: "Boring!" Yuichi is shopping for a new sports car. He can't find anything he likes that is affordable. Sources inside Honda say that Honda will be releasing a sporty version of the Insight in 2010 at a very reasonable price. Yuichi is not sure if he will buy one, but he will test drive it at the very least. After all, as the Honda salesman told Koji and Emiko, environmentally friendly cars are the future.

Aaron Language Services on the web at http://www.aaronlanguage.com provides translation, proofreading, and online English coaching to a primarily Japanese client base.

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