) --


(HMC) - Get Report

cautions that it could miss its sales target for the Insight hybrid car after a generally unsuccessful launch in the U.S.

Honda planned on selling 200,000 Insight hybrids worldwide in its first year on the market, but that prospect has dimmed, Honda's executive vice president Koichi Kondo told


The problem with the car is that it's too small for American customers, particularly in the backseat, Kondo explained. U.S. customers instead prefer


(TM) - Get Report

revamped hybrid Prius. The Prius beat Insight sales seven-to-one in the U.S. during the final quarter of 2009.

Kondo adds that lower U.S. fuel prices have also been removing consumers' incentive to buy new hybrids like the Insight,



Honda introduced the Insight hybrid to Japan in February and to the U.S. in March. Since then, Japan's second largest automaker has sold 130,445 Insights worldwide and only 20,572 in the U.S. as of December 31. Honda's U.S. results fell short of the automaker's goal to sell 90,000 Insights in its first year here.

In Japan and elsewhere, tax breaks and subsidies have helped generate booming demand for the low-emission hybrids.

In response,

Toyota will aim to double its output of gasoline-electric hybrids

to one million globally a year by 2001. Besides Honda, the automaker reportedly faces little competition in hybrids.

Toyota stock has edged higher at $90.30, up 1% as has Honda stock, which is up 0.7% at $35.60.


(F) - Get Report

has slid to $11.40, down 1.4%, while


( DAI) is down 3.4% at $49.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York


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