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Yes We Kamm

Now that the 2010 Honda Insight has been road-tested, and the 2010 Toyota Prius redesign has been revealed, it's time to find out why these two fuel-efficient cars—with two completely different hybrid drivetrains, and from two competitive automakers—look so much alike.

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The 2010 Toyota Prius

We can thank Wunibald Kamm (1893 – 1966), for the flat-backed teardrop design of both vehicles. Kamm was a German engineer who pioneered the science of auto aerodynamics; he discovered that while a teardrop shape was the most efficient way for an auto to cut through the air, lopping off the back didn't change the dynamics—and it made for a more practical consumer car design.


The 2010 Honda Insight

Considering the irrefutable science behind Kamm's discovery, get used to the idea that any future automobile designed purely (or primarily) for gas efficiency will have this same shape. Of course, plenty of hybrid cars built today don't employ the truncated teardrop design, which means a gas-wasting compromise has been made to consumer design tastes. Consider also that Kamm made his energy-saving discovery in the late 1930s, when most cars were boxy, SUV-sized, and inefficient. (Insert your rueful cliché of choice here.)

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