Japanese Car Auction Finds: Original Honda Insight (ZE1) Hybrid

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Today I wrote up some information about finding hybrid cars in Japan’s car auctions. Honestly, I was surprised that there are so many different models. For example, I had no idea that the Toyota Crown or Kluger were available as hybrids.

Anyway, along with the Prius, the Honda Insight can also be counted as one of the trailblazers in the hybrid revolution. There are a few reasons why the first generation of Insight is noteworthy:

First of all, it was an exceptionally fuel-efficient vehicle. Despite production ending five years ago, it is still rated as one of the most frugal vehicles ever tested by the US EPA with a highway rating of 70 MPG (which is 84 MPG when measured in Imperial gallons).

In addition, it incorporated start / stop technology which is now being taken up by BMW et al as a key strategy to reduce consumption.

There were more innovations, such as CVT transmission and the use of aluminum and plastic to reduce body weight, but I think another reason why the Insight ZE1 model should be remembered is that it was the first hybrid sold in the US, beating the Prius shortly after.

I think the question I have is how did Honda so comprehensively drop the ball after this amazing start? They had a technologically superior hybrid car that pioneered a whole raft of technologies that could have been introduced in other models across their range. The Insight beat the Prius at what was its raison d’etre – fuel economy. And then it beat the Prius to market in the key automobile market in the world. And yet after achieving so much, the hybrid branch withered on the Honda tree, and has only just recently been slightly reinvigorated by the ZE2 Insight – a pale reflection of its predecessor, and whose only virtue seems to be that it is relatively cheap.

I, for one, hope that Honda regains its earlier vision and gets back to what made this original Insight such an amazing car: Prescient technology and stunning fuel economy.

Here is a 2000 ZE1 Honda Insight in the car auctions in Japan. With such low KM on the clock, I would expect this one to end up going for around 350,000 Yen.

Honda Insight ZE1 Hybrid Car in Japan's Car Auctions

Honda Insight ZE1 Hybrid Car in Japan's Car Auctions

Honda Insight ZE1 Hybrid Car in Japan's Car Auctions

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