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Spiritual Successor to Honda Insight to be Unveiled at Tokyo Motor Show


At last there is hope that we will be able to buy a good-looking and
economical small hybrid sports car. Honda is unveiling its CR-Z Concept
at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show later this month. This is effectively the
spiritual successor to the Honda Insight – although no longer available
in the UK, the Insight is still one of the lowest emitting cars that
has ever been on sale here.

Since the
Insight disappeared from our showrooms, Honda has shown the Honda Remix
Concept (seen at the LA Show last year), and the Small Hybrid Sports
Concept (debuted at Geneva in March). The CR-Z Concept, a two-seater
sports car equipped with Honda’s petrol-electric hybrid IMA powertrain,
is the next evolution to explore the potential of a compact,
lightweight sports car that Honda says is exciting to drive, but has
minimal impact on the environment.

The
CR-Z’s hi-tech interior features a blue, neon-like finish across the
main dash and centre console and mesh material on a simple framework is
used throughout.

According to the
Japanese design team, CR-Z stands for Compact Renaissance – Zero. We’re
not too sure what that means, but more importantly, when will Honda
stop giving us concepts, and instead give us a real hybrid sports car
we can buy?

Also on show is the PUYO.
PUYO is meant to convey “all that is warm and friendly, and put a smile
on the face of users and pedestrians”. The concept car has a ‘gel body’
made of soft materials that enhance the ‘real world’ safety properties
of the vehicle. Lights beneath the body shine through the gel, to help
highlight doors and other manual functions, and “notify users of the
vehicle’s condition”.

The concept has a
small frame, is ultra-efficient and is powered by hydrogen fuel cell
technology. One of the key goals of the project was to create a
cornerless car that was kind to both people and the environment. The
‘Seamless Soft Box’ manages to accommodate four people within its frame.

The
PUYO’s interior includes an instrument panel monitor, elastic-like
controls made from cloth that rise up when the vehicle starts, and
luminous fluid level displays. There’s no steering wheel, but instead a
joystick which is used for operation and manoeuvring.

Another
new car on the Honda the stand is the all-new Japanese Fit, which goes
on sale in Japan in late October. The new Fit will form the basis for
the Jazz, which will be launched in Europe in late 2008.

In
addition, a ‘Next Energy’ display will showcase Honda’s latest
initiatives in new energy development, including technology for
producing bio-ethanol from rice straw and environmentally-responsible,
next-generation thin-film solar cells, which will soon go on sale
nationwide in Japan.