New Honda Hybrid Electric Car Tops EPA Mileage List

Powered by both gasoline and electricity, a two-seat Japanese import is next year's top fuel miser, according to the EPA's latest fuel economy statistics. The Honda Insight, which arrives at showrooms in December, was certified as getting 61 mpg in city driving and 70 mpg on the highway, the best among more than 800 vehicles of the 2000 model year. Among the biggest gas guzzlers were the popular large sport utility vehicles (SUVs), many of which reported about 12 mpg in city driving and at best about 16 mpg on the highway. Land Rover's Range Rover got the worst mileage (12 mpg city, 15 mpg highway) among the SUVs. Another 2-seater, the sporty Ferrari 550 Maranello, was the biggest guzzler of all, getting 8 mpg in city driving and 13 on the open road. Twenty cars, including the Ferrari, were subject to the federal gas guzzler tax. The first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle available in America, Honda has touted the Insight as "breakthrough engineering" with high mileage and low enough pollution to meet California's toughest emission standards outside of an all-electric car. Other manufactures are planning to unveil similar "hybrids" in coming years. But some auto industry analysts have questioned how many people will buy the new Honda offering, which is expected to cost close to $20,000. The Insight primarily runs on gasoline, but its electric motor, which draws power from an onboard battery, kicks in to boost engine performance. It acts as a generator when the car slows down, recharging the battery.

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