The Acura NSX may have been low volume and high cost when it made its debut as the world's first aluminum production car in 1990, but it paved the way for the Honda Insight, which has generated both hype and demand. Honda credits NSX for valuable lessons learned, says Kazuhiko Tsunoda, Honda's chief engineer behind the body design of the Insight.

Although most of the aluminum for NSX was sheet material, on Insight more than 40% of the aluminum is either extruded (used in framing) or die-cast into such things as engine mounts and lower arm joints.

Some stamped and die-cast parts were eliminated. The result is not only lower cost, but a more rigid body that achieves advanced safety standards. The 365-lb. Insight body is 47% lighter than a Civic, and it has 15% fewer parts and welds than NSX.