In late 2011 Toyota will launch the new Subcompact hybrid of Toyota on the market. According to the Japanese Asahi newspaper, this hybrid has a better fuel economy and a lower price ($16.000) than the company’s other hybrid models. Though the platform and engine will be used of the Yaris hybrid, the Subcompact will feature a unique name, design en hybrid system.
With the Subcompact hybrid Toyota will try to compete against the 2010 Honda Insight, the smallest and least expensive hybrid currently avaible in the US Market. However the Insight has not sold well. The first 12 months Honda was targeting 100.000 Insight sales in the US, but based on average monthly sales of 2.000 to 2,500 units, will miss the mark by a wide margin. But thanks to government incentives and gas prices of about $4,50 a gallon yet it has been a hit in Japan.
The Honda Insight is more cost-competive about ($5.000 less) , than larger hybrid models as the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid. But in accordance with recent sales all three vehicles have been sold nearly identical. The conclusion might be that a part of US consumers prefer rather space than a better fuel economy small car. They like some additional seating for visitors, pets and shopping bags. Or they buy a large sedans for image or status, especially when gas is cheap and tax incentives are not available. But still a lot of people enjoy to drive on electric power because it is cool.