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You’ve heard about the “cash for clunkers” legislation that allows U.S. car buyers to get up to $4,500 in cash vouchers for replacing gas guzzlers with fuel efficient vehicles. If you’ve got an older car or pickup truck with rotten gas mileage, you can replace it with a new car getting 22 mpg or better or a new pickup getting 18 mpg or better and receive a break on the price courtesy of your government.

Which cars should you be looking at? Marketing service Autobytel complied a list of auto makers that have vehicles that qualify for vouchers, and even figured out how many of the cars in each automakers fleet were eligible. Every vehicle offered by Mini and Scion, for instance, could get you some cash toward a new car if you trade in a clunker.

Here’s Autobytel’s top ten cash for clunkers cars, with the percentage of each maker’s fleet that qualifies for a voucher when you buy a new car:

  1. Mini 100%
  2. Scion 100%
  3. Honda 94%
  4. Saturn 93%
  5. Subaru 88%
  6. Suzuki 85%
  7. Pontiac 79%
  8. Mazda 74%
  9. Hyundai 73%
  10. Volkswagen 73%

Honda doesn’t receive perfect marks probably because it has that massive Ridgeline pickup truck in the fleet. And Volkswagen all the way down at number 10 was a surprise. Also, keep in mind that Saturn’s future is a bit shaky these days, and Pontiac has received an official death sentence as part of GM’s restructuring.

2009 Honda Insight Concept

Now that the new 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid has made its Paris debut, like any model worth her skinny jeans would do, the company has launched two new online outlets for the car.

“Latest Insight” is a blog that follows the car from debut to dealership. The design seems to be final with only the manufacturing step left to go, so I’m not sure what “journey” the bloggers at Honda will be following. You can count on posts and pics from every event and auto show the car graces, though.

Honda also launched a mini site, “Words of Hybrid,”* that showcases all of its hybrid vehicles, including the original Insight and the forthcoming CR-Z. There’s a link at the bottom of the list for a Jazz Hybrid that can’t be clicked. (The Jazz is the name of the Fit in Europe and the Middle East.) U.K. site What Car says the hybrid Jazz could reach the European market by 2010.

*You can also reach the Honda mini site by visiting Honda’s world hybrid site and clicking “Launch.”

Spooky photo of the Insight courtesy of Honda.

We Americans have it pretty good — freedom of speech, religion, and the press; pursuit of happiness; pulled-pork sandwiches — but not when it comes to green cars. Here’s a rundown of the latest models we want, but can’t have:

  • Diesel-powered Ford Ka This little number will get 56 mpg from it’s 1.3-liter engine, and put out 75 horsepower. At the Ford presentation I recently attended, someone asked speaker and powertrain expert Dan Kapp about Euro-spec clean-diesel Fords coming to the U.S., and he said not in the foreseeable future.
  • Ford Fiesta ECOnetic Another small, diesel-powered Ford. This one, which goes on sale in the U.K. in November, gets 65 mpg and would be priced similarly to the Toyota Prius, if it ever made it to these shores. Which it won’t. Ever, according to Business Week.
  • Honda Fit Hybrid So Ford says it won’t bring its diesels to the U.S. because we’re all about hybrids, so why has Honda decided not to go forward with its Fit Hybrid? Competition with itself. It wants all the hybrid love to go to its new Insight, due next spring. So no one gets the Fit Hybrid until the next redesign, a Honda spokesman told
  • VW BlueMotion Diesel Golf The latest TDI-powered Volkswagen to come down the pike is a quick little four-door hatchback that gets 52 mpg, according to a VW press release, while still achieving 103 hp and a top speed of 117 mph. Luckily, VW did deem the U.S. worthy of the new Jetta SportWagon TDI, which gets 40 mpg on the highway and emits a mere 6.4 tons of CO2 annually.

Honda Insight ConceptHonda has been promising to unveil its new hybrid all week, and today, they’ve done it: the company is resurrecting its original hybrid, the Insight, which died a small death only two years ago. The new version will be a five-door, five-passenger hatchback like the Prius, with a similar starting price in the low $20,000s.

The new car looks more like a Civic or hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity and less like the old Insight, with its covered rear wheels and flat Kamm tail. Though the original only sold 17,000 units between 1999 and 2006, it was the first car to break the 70 mpg barrier. Honda expects the new Insight to sell much better, to the tune of 200,000 cars worldwide, half of which will end up in American driveways. The concept will debut at the Paris auto show, October 4-19, 2008, and be available in U.S. showrooms by April 2009.

Honda already has a hybrid version of the Civic, but the Insight will be smaller and lighter. The company also has plans to add a hybrid Fit to the lineup sometime in the future, along with a sporty hybrid based on the CR-Z.

Inifiti Hybrid Prototype

Three of Japan’s largest car manufacturers have all made announcements recently about their future hybrid plans. Here’s a quick recap, in order of each hybrid’s expected release date:

April 2009 — Honda’s Hybrid

Honda’s Prius-fighting five-door hybrid-only model will see showroom floors next April, according to the company’s American executive VP Dick Colliver. He also said the new hybrid, which doesn’t have an official name yet, will be cheaper than the Prius. Honda plans to build 200,000 of the car globally, with about half of them to be sold in the U.S.

Sometime in 2010 — Nissan’s Hybrid

The first car to carry Nissan’s in-house hybrid technology (its previous hybrids used a system leased from Toyota) will be badged as an upscale Inifiti. The new hybrid features a lithium-ion battery and a V6 engine, but Nissan engineers say there are still some kinks to be worked out before the car hits the streets, notably a lag when the gasoline engine kicked in.

By 2020 — Toyota’s Full Line of Hybrids

The manager of Toyota’s advance powertrain program said at a seminar recently that the company plans to have hybrids in each of its product lines at the end of the next decade. He added that the 1 million hybrid Toyotas sold so far have saved 7 million tons of carbon monoxide emissions, and that the company wants to continue to develop cleaner powertrains. Toyota’s also working to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology to complement its domination in the hybrid market.

Honda and Mitsubishi have both launched microsites on the Internet dedicated to their latest entries into the green-car market. Honda is preparing the world for its line of hybrid vehicles on its microsite, while Mitsubishi is laying the groundwork for its i MiEV concept.

Honda is expected to debut its new hybrid at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, a five-door hatchback. The as-yet-unnamed car will be offered only as a hybrid, unlike its Civic and Accord stablemates. Honda also has a hybrid sports car that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show this year, but the CR-Z, as it’s called, has a long way to go to get from car shows to showroom-floor.

Mitsubishi’s microsite introduces the i MiEV, an electric vehicle currently in fleet testing. The car is small, not much bigger than a Smart ForTwo, though Mitsu says it seats four. The car’s lithium-ion batteries are good for 80 mph max and nearly 100 miles, making it a more feasible commuter car than neighborhood EVs like the Zap Xebra or Zenn NEV.

CRAFTY BONUS: Mitsubishi has a page full of paper craft plans and instructions for building models of its cars, including the i MiEV. Seems like an excellent way to recycle that useless meeting agenda someone left on your desk this morning.