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2/8/00: Stuart H. Duzan critiques the Insight:

I am almost as excited about this automobile as you are. But Honda needs to know that the American public is not as ignorant or uneducated about engineering as they might think. They need to change/improve immediately the following:

  1. Increase the weight that the car can hold. That figure of 365 pounds for two people plus casual luggage or groceries is not adequate. I feel they are keeping that figure low due to politics and liability. You owe it to yourself to weight it to 500 pounds and see how it performs.
  2. I read that the continuous automatic that Honda has works well in Japan and should be the transmission here in the states. It can propel the car and do a better job of mileage than human error of shifting through the gears. If Toyota Prius can do it, so can Honda.
  3. Being that electricity and the ability to provide is a precious commodity (and limited), they should have used HID for both low and high beam. The gas hogs of America are using it and in this case it is not a luxury but a necessity. cost is not an issue because, as the Japanese have trained the American car builders, it is very cheap to put electric windows, door locks, etc., on all models rather than making it an option. HID is 70% efficient and more light then the Halogen conventional which is 20% efficient. And it is safer; more visibility; can be seen by others much easier.
  4. I don't like gas struts (being that they fail every 2-3 years, but they should have used that instead of that short steel stick to hold up the hood. People have already damaged their Insight because of it.
  5. Since Honda chose only one color for interior, they should have used a light colored interior, beige/taupe instead of black/charcoal due to heat absorption.
  6. The vanity mirror on the visor should have been lighted (nothing new folks) and where is the one for the passenger? This reminds me of the time when Japan had the power door opener on the driver side only. You don't have to be in the 21 Century to understand this logic and need.
  7. As far as picking 3 colors for the exterior (actually 4 counting the light blue in Japan), The yellow and red is horrible by public opinion and rightfully so. Pick something nice and safe. Pearl white is not only the correct color for heat, but is the optimum in safety. Pearl white is beautiful also.

I hope I am not going too fast. It seems that American mistakes have fallen into the hands of Japan. If you want a little high tech, try using laser light instead of conventional bulbs for the tail lights for safety and increasing the speed that it takes for people to see that you are going to stop or turn.

Sincerely, Stuart H. Duzan Scottsdale, AZ


InsightMan replies:


Can I put your letter on my feedback page? I've been getting nothing but praise for my site and the car--yours is the first negative response I've received.

You've missed two basic controlling factors:
A. Honda did whatever they could to achieve one number: 70 mpg
B. Honda is losing up to $10K on every car.

Addressing your points:

  1. Regarding the weight limit, see point A. above. Every part has been optimized to lower the weight of the car, including suspension. Heavier suspension would result in a heavier car and maybe only 68 mpg?
  2. CVT: see point B. above. The cost of distributing cars with many different options would increase their losses further. We may get the CVT later. (The Toyota "Prius" is aimed a lower emissions, not mpg.) I like the 5-speed. A cruise control would help the mpg, however.
  3. I didn't know the low beams weren't HID, but maybe back to point B. above. I hate staring into other's super-bright low beams.
  4. Where have you heard about damaged Insights? I'd like to read it. However, I can imagine problems in stiff winds or with people who forget there aren't gas struts holding the hood up. Back to A. above, it would weigh more.
  5. I like the interior colors (except when with the ugly Citrus Yellow color). Maybe you should ask for pure white, instead?
  6. The Insight is a pure commuter car. Most commuters drive without a passenger. The mirror in the driver's visor makes perfect sense to me. As for lighting: more cost, more weight, more electricity use.
  7. You must not know about the 5th color, the color I wrote to Japan and California begging for: black (actually very dark gunmetal gray) I'd put up with the extra heat (as I have with a CRX Si) for the Darth Vader look. Isn't red more visible than white? It sure would be in the foggy white-out I drove through in Ohio last weekend. I do like the Pearl White used for the Honda Prelude. My feeling is that, with a $10K discount from construction cost and a much greater discount if you include the huge R&D costs, the Honda Insight is a gift to America. Why are they selling only a few hundred of them in each European country, where gas is priced much, much higher? When you set your sights on 70 mpg, you have to make some concessions. They could have made a lot more than they did.

I really enjoyed your letter, though. Others will, too, if you choose to allow me to post it.

Your Honda Insight enthusiast and apologist,
JohnE Johnson