October 20, 2010 08:57
Honda Korea on Tuesday launched the Insight hybrid here priced at just W29.5 million, the lowest among imported hybrids (US$1=W1,128).
With the debut of a sub-W30 million Japanese hybrid, attention is drawn to whether the domestic hybrid market will grow and how competitive the new model will be against market leader Toyota Prius and Korean hybrids.
Powered by a 1.3-liter gasoline engine and electric motor, the Insight boasts fuel efficiency of 23 km/l, making it some 40 to 50 percent more efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles.
The rival Prius offers fuel efficiency of 29.2 km/l, but it sells for W37.9 million.
Over 6,000 hybrids were sold in the Korean market in the first nine months of the year, accounting for less than 1 percent of total passenger vehicle sales.
Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group released hybrid editions of the Avante and Forte sedans costing between W20 million and W23 million, but they sold a mere 5,000 units. Other hybrids have shown even poorer performance, with the Prius selling just 764 units and the Camry hybrid 297.
Despite the sluggish sales, several new hybrids are slated to appear in showrooms in Korea next year. Hyundai plans to release the Sonata hybrid with fuel efficiency of 17km/l at the beginning of 2011, and the Toyota Lexus CT200h will hit the market with a price tag of less than W50 million in March. Honda will also release the CR-Z sport hybrid coupe priced at around W30 million next summer.
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