Not actually our words, we admit. But they are the words of Jeremy Clarkson, who has just done a review of the Honda Insight in his Times Online column. Do we agree? No. But only because Jeremy has done what Jeremy always does – exaggerate hugely for effect. But his points are valid, and concur pretty much with ours.
We prefer the Honda Insight to the Toyota Prius for one reason only – it’s cheaper to buy. Actually, there are two. It’s marginally better looking. But we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – Hybrid cars are the wrong way to go. But it’s not just us and Jeremy who have said it. Honda have said the same, but they couldn’t allow Toyota to wrap up the Hybrid market to a sometimes gullible car buying public. So they launched the Honda Insight.
In his piece Jeremy mentioned the huge environmental costs of the batteries used in the Prius and Insight. This is exactly what we said more than a year ago on another news blog when we reckoned the whole-life carbon cost of a Prius was comparable to that of a Rolls Royce Phantom.
I’m still to be convinced that the tiny amount of Co2 we put in to the atmosphere is contributing to climate change. But I agree that oil is a finite resource and we need to address that issue and, if at all possible, make cars more economical. But Hybrids are at best a way to give people a ‘Green Glow’. They are not a serious answer.
Nor, I have to say, are plug-in electric cars. BMW has admitted that in actual carbon costs (as that seems to be the be-all and end-all of justification for these types of car) the Mini Diesel is more carbon friendly than the MINI E. So what’s the point?
And the US is now going backwards. Having committed a decent chunk of money to the only really promising way forward – Hydrogen Fuel Cell – President Obama has scrapped the investment (at least Norway are still pushing ahead with Hydrogen Cars). Not only that, but there is a huge push in the US to convert all cars to Bio fuel. What a joke! If you take the most productive Bio-Fuel crop – Switchgrass – and turn every single acre in the US over to production – assuming they are all hugely fertile acres – you would still not produce enough fuel to power half their cars.
Not only that, but it has been shown that the fertilisers needed to produce Bio Fuels actually create more in the way of Greenhouse gases than petrol.
There isn’t an easy solution. The short term one is to take existing cars and make them more fuel efficient. The long term solution is to pump money in to Hydrogen Fuel Cell research to make it viable.
For now, if you must buy a Hybrid then buy the Insight. But only because it’s cheaper. What you should do, if you want the economy and to be ‘Green’ is buy something like the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic. At least that makes some sense.
Or of course, if your pockets are very deep, you could jump in to a Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid or a Mercedes S400 Hybrid. Their Hybrid systems work simply because they are so sophisticated and costly, and give a real performance boost to boot. But they are just a sop to ‘Green’ credentials. And a way of getting more power from a smaller engine. Nothing more.Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the Honda Insight