For the first time in the US, a hybrid car is truly being aimed at a mass market—and will be sold for under $20,000. On March 24th, Honda will introduce its Insight with a sticker price of $19,800—which means the idea of buying a hybrid could become a reality for many more people than ever before.
By way of comparison, Ford's Fusion hybrid starts at around $27,000, and the most bare bones model of the infamous Prius starts around at least $22,000.
This is big news. There are two major obstacles hybrids have faced in gaining traction in the US market: a) an expensive price tag—that's the obvious one. But also, there's b) the idea that hybrids are only for wealthy liberal "elites." Finally having an option that many Americans can afford could go a long ways in overcoming both hurdles. And if you're in the market for a car, it should get you thinking.
Twenty grand still isn't what we consider a cheap car—but it definitely lands the hybrid in the "realistic" range for the car-hunting masses. Throw in the fact that Honda has a sterling reputation for making solid, durable vehicles—if not the flashiest cars on the market—and we have ourselves a very real contender for a sort of "Hybrid for the People." Expect the incoming ad campaign to capitalize on that.
The bottom line is that this is great news for green-minded car buyers and for the state of the hybrid in the US in general. And bear in mind that if you wait even a couple months more, used Insights are bound to start popping up in car lots; and we could be seeing hybrids selling for $12-15 grand on a regular basis.
Perhaps, recession be damned, 2009 will be the true year of the hybrid.