Honda's Insight Hybrid To Pace NESEA American Tour De Sol

1/4/2001 6:19:46 AM

America's first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, the Honda Insight, is the official pace car for this year's NESEA (Northeast Sustainable Energy Association) American Tour de Sol road rally. The rally pits the country's cleanest-running, most fuel-efficient cars, trucks and buses in a 250-mile event from New York City to Washington, D.C. during Clean Air Week, May 12-18.

"The Honda Insight represents a superb application of advanced environmental technologies for everyday driving and we are happy to see it lead the 2000 NESEA American Tour de Sol," said Nancy Hazard, associate director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. "With its ultra-high fuel economy and ultra-low emissions, the Honda Insight helps to conserve natural resources, reduce the impact on climate change and lower smog-forming emissions."

In addition to the Insight pace car, a dozen owner-driven Insights are participating. They will compete against a field of 50 alternative-fuel vehicles including manufacturer-built prototypes and futuristic student-designed concepts.

"Insight buyers are enthusiastic about their cars and they have a first-hand understanding of what it means to own a vehicle that epitomizes advanced, affordable environmental technology," said Robert Bienenfeld, manager of advanced environmental vehicles for American Honda. "Some Insight owners are coming from as far as California to support their cars' earth-friendly technology and demonstrate their commitment to an event that showcases environmental advancements."

At 70 miles per gallon highway and 61 miles per gallon city, the Insight has the world's best fuel economy for a mass-produced gasoline-powered automobile. Each Insight will use less than four gallons of fuel for the entire 250-mile event.

A Gold Sponsor of this year's NESEA Tour, Honda has a long-standing commitment to bringing advanced environmental technology to market, beginning with the launch of the 1974 Honda Civic - the first vehicle to meet Clean Air Act standards while running on regular gasoline. Honda was also the first to introduce vehicles meeting California's strict Low Emission Vehicle and Ultra Low Emission Vehicle standards. For the 2000 model year, 85 percent of Hondas sold in the U.S. are equipped with advanced low-emission technology.

The Insight, launched in December 1999, is certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle and includes 300 patent-pending features. The Sierra Club honored the Honda Insight with the first award for any product in its 108-year history, for Excellence in Environmental Engineering.

The Insight pace car will lead the 50-car field from New York City to Washington, D.C., with special festivals in Trenton, N.J., Cecil County, Md., Annapolis, Md. and Washington. At the three-day kick-off in New York City, May 12-14, the teams will compete in a variety of qualifying events and be on display for the public. The finish-line ceremony will take place on May 18 on the Mall in Washington, D.C. (For more details, visit the NESEA Web site at http://www.nesea.org).

Priced at less than $19,000, the Insight features Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, which combines a 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor for improved efficiency. The electric motor is powered by a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack, which is charged by the gasoline engine and by recapturing the vehicle's momentum during braking. As a result, the Insight does not require an outside source of electric power and never needs to be plugged in.

The NESEA American Tour de Sol is organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, the nation's leading regional association involved in promoting awareness, understanding and development of non-polluting, renewable technologies. Headquartered in Greenfield, Massachusetts, NESEA is celebrating 25 years of working successfully in the fields of transportation, building construction and renewable energy.