Toyota's 2011 Low-Cost Dedicated Hybrid to be Based on the Yaris

A news report has shed light on Toyota's plans to develop a dedicated small hybrid model to take on Honda's Insight hybrid that just went on sale in the USA. Speaking with Japan's Nikkei business newspaper Akihiko Otsuka, chief engineer of the third-generation Toyota Prius, revealed that Toyota's new low-cost dedicated hybrid will be based on the Yaris platform. The reason why Toyota is planning such a model, is because Honda's Insight significantly undercuts the new Prius in price.

"We are developing a low-priced hybrid vehicle like Honda's Insight," Otsuka told the newspaper. "We are going to compete by expanding our hybrid-vehicle lineup to smaller hybrids, in the class of the Vitz and Yaris."

Even though Otsuka did not reveal details on the launch date, reports from Japan suggest that the small hybrid could find its way into international markets as soon as 2011.

Hyundai BLUE-WILL hybrid concept to be unveiled in Seoul

For its home-turf Seoul Motor Show, Hyundai will unveil a new hybrid concept called BLUE-WILL. The car features lithium-Ion batteries paired up with a 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine - oh, and some "dye-sensitized solar cells" in the panoramic roof that send a little more power to the batteries - in a parallel hybrid set up. The concept also throws in a 100kw electric motor to move the wheels. The eco-headline-generating machine even features headlamp bezels made from recycled drink bottles and bioplastics on the interior and in the engine cover. Both the fuel tank and the li-ion battery pack are stored under the rear seat. While the press release doesn't mention it, we've seen reports that this is a plug-in concept, which makes sense. We'll learn more when the BLUE-WILL is unveiled April 2.

Hyundai has said that that it's first production hybrid will have a "distinctive look." That vehicle will be the Elantra LPI Hybrid, which is scheduled to go on sale this summer, but the BLUE-WILL certainly has unusual styling, with the lines on the sides that cross on the front door and that giant grin in front.

Amit Thakur

Collective Unveils 'Good To Grow' Online Campaign for UK Launch of Honda Insight

London, United Kingdom, 03/25/2009 - Honda’s digital creative agency Collective, today unveils its environmentally aware ‘Good to Grow’ online campaign, designed to support the UK release of the new Honda Insight car.

The gardening themed campaign, which launches on 2 April, forms the most innovative part of the Insight’s launch campaign and highlights the Eco Driver Assist system of the new Honda Insight – a dashboard display featuring five ‘plants’ that grow the more efficiently you drive.

The online campaign will invite participants to look after five real plants from bulb to full bloom. A live greenhouse webcam will keep entrants updated on how their plants are developing, and the person with the first five plants to bloom fully (as determined by an independent botanist) will win a £10,000 prize to split equally between a ‘good’, environmentally-friendly holiday and a registered charity of their choice.

Players will also be encouraged to complete daily challenges and vote on which plant will receive a special ‘weekly tending’.

Every player will receive a unique combination of five plants allocated from a ‘pool’ of 24 plants, all of which represent a Honda environmental achievement – from the ecologically friendly CVCC engine developed in 1971 to the zero emission FCX Clarity, the world's first production fuel cell vehicle.

The campaign creative will be hosted within Honda’s new full-scale digital platform - also developed by Collective – surrounding the campaign with product information on the new Insight for those who want quick information on the car. Interested users can also easily sign up on the website to test drive the vehicle.

Greg Doone, managing director of Collective, comments: “We were keen to design a campaign that would tell the Insight story in an engaging way, within the context of Honda’s other ground-breaking environmental achievements. The Honda Eco Driver Assist system along with its iconic dashboard display gave us a perfect campaign theme, enabling us to develop a competition based on the actual growing and flowering of plants that we hope will keep users coming back.”

Jonny Freeman, digital marketing manager of Honda UK, adds: “Good to grow is a fantastically optimistic way of having some fun whilst promoting the environmental benefits of the new Insight. We’re hoping people will log on and nurture the plants and maybe even take a test a drive of the new car.”

The new Honda Insight is the world’s most affordable hybrid. It produces only 101g/km of CO2 and its innovative Eco Driver Assist system actually rewards people for good driving.

About Collective
Collective is a London-based digital creative agency that creates remarkable websites and brand-driven campaigns. Renowned for its collaborative approach and innovative use of rich media, Collective’s current clients include Honda UK, Honda Motor Europe, Callaway Golf, Snickers, Doritos, learndirect, Sega and EA Games.

Formed in 2003, Collective’s team is currently 40 strong.

Melkus RS2000 Final Design and Details Released

Melkus has released several new pictures of their upcoming RS 2000 sports car that will go on sale in November with annual production limited to 25 units.

Although information is scarce, the new RS 2000 will have an extremely aerodynamic body which draws inspiration from the classic Melkus RS 1000 which went out of production in 1979. Like the 1000, the new RS 2000 features gullwing doors which have been specially engineered to swing out only a few centimeters to enable entry and exit in tight spaces. In the quest to reduce drag and improve downforce, Melkus outfitted the sports car with a completely closed underbody, a large front lip spoiler, and a rear diffuser.

Designed by Lutz F├╝gener and Jens Timmich, the new model follows the lightweight philosophy pioneered by company founder Heinz Melkus. To keep weight down the RS 2000 rides on an aluminum chassis which is wrapped in a body constructed from carbon fiber, the end result means that the sports car weighs less than 1,000 pounds (454 kg).

While the company failed to provide information regarding the car's powertrain, they did state that additional details would be released this summer.