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2010 Honda Insight carries $19,800 base price

March 11, 2009|Ken Bensinger

Honda Motor Co.'s much-anticipated Prius fighter may double as a recession fighter.

The Japanese automaker said Tuesday that when the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid hits dealer lots in two weeks, it will carry a base price of $19,800.

That put an end to months of speculation over just how much less expensive the new Honda would be than the Toyota Prius, currently the top-selling hybrid in the U.S.

The Insight will be the least expensive new hybrid available in the country; even the more feature-laden EX version of the Insight, which includes alloy wheels and paddle shifters, will be under the Prius' $22,000 starting sticker.

By pricing it so low -- almost $4,000 less than its own Civic hybrid -- yet delivering a car that looks and behaves remarkably like the current Prius, Honda is making a risky bet that cost-conscious consumers will be lured to choose its hybrids over non-hybrid alternatives.

Meanwhile, with a new, far more fuel-efficient 2010 Prius set to hit showrooms in June, the Insight could lose out on buyers who care more about green (as in ecology) than green (as in dough).

Honda has its eyes trained on a broader swath of customers.

The Insight, said Dick Colliver, executive vice president for Honda's U.S. sales arm, "brings the cost of entry for hybrid technology within closer reach of an entirely new car-shopping audience."

The automaker hopes that people who otherwise wouldn't have considered a hybrid will choose the Insight because it's cheaper to buy and operate than comparable vehicles.

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ken.bensinger@latimes.com

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