From Honda press: Introduced in late 1999 as the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle sold in the U.S., the Honda Insight is now equipped with an advanced continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). With EPA fuel economy ratings of 57 mpg in the city, 56 mpg highway and a driving range of more than 500 miles, the Insight CVT is the most fuel-efficient internal combustion vehicle in America with an automatic transmission.
It is also the second most fuel-efficient internal combustion vehicle overall - behind only the Insight equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission with EPA ratings of 61 mpg city and 68 mpg highway. The Insight CVT carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $21,180.
The CVT is completely automatic and provides an infinite range of gear ratios for smooth and stepless shifting, combined with maximum efficiency and performance. These advantages make the CVT an ideal transmission for the high-mileage Insight hybrid.
The Insight features Honda's exclusive Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system that merges the world's lightest 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder gasoline automobile engine with a thin and lightweight electric motor for improved efficiency and added power when needed. The electric motor also acts as a generator during braking or coasting downhill to recharge the IMA batteries. The Insight's battery pack never needs to be recharged by
an external power source and, in fact, cannot be "plugged in."
The Insight was designed from the ground up to achieve world-class fuel economy and ultra low emissions. This was accomplished by using a combination of forward-thinking technologies, including the hybrid powertrain, sophisticated aerodynamic design and lightweight aluminum body. Under the hood, the gasoline engine is smaller and more fuel-efficient due to the electric motor providing low-end torque and power assist when necessary. Since the electric motor is not the only propulsion resource, the motor and battery pack can be smaller and lighter than in a pure electric vehicle.
The motor acts as a generator during deceleration and braking to recharge the IMA batteries.