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Dear Insight Owners and Enthusiasts,

I've just spent several hours reading Forum posts on Insights on several different sites. Wow! I'm in information-overload and pretty bewildered at the moment. However, I sure want to express a BIG appreciation to all of you that take the time to offer such helpful info to folks like me.

I have a pretty long list of questions, as I'm beginning the process of buying a used Insight.

I've had an interest in EV's for many years...and even hope to possibly start a biz doing conversions, after talking to the guys at CalCars http://www.calcars.org and EDrive Systems, http://www.energycs.com/ and http://www.energycs.com/Edrive-FAQ.html who are converting Prius's (Priuii? ;-) to being a Plug-In Hybrid, and have had MUCH press coverage in some pretty big publications. This is going to be a BIG challenge for me, since I have NO background in electrical engineering, battery technology, software, or mechanics. ! ! ! AND I'm a woman....not your typical gear-head guy. (No offense to the *sophisticated* men that read and post on these forum sites) <tease/chuckles>. The only thing I can bring to this adventure is my passion for EV's...and my entreprenurial spirit. So some of my questions about buying an Insight, come from my conversations with them, and the reading I've done related to their projects. But because I have no background in any of this, I have a pretty limited understanding of alot of it.

So, to launch into my questions:

I'm interested in doing the conversion (or something similar...) to the Insight that the CalCars guys have done on their Prius. They have hacked Toyota's OEM software, changed out and added a few parts, and are using Lithium-Ion batteries. And making it a "plug-in" --rechargeable at your home electrical outlet. Has anyone done anything like this with the Insight? Can it be done? If so, I might be interested in buying an Insight with trashed or dead battery pack...and spending the bucks on the Lithiom-Ion's. ?? Here's a note I found somewhere??? tonight...that makes me wonder if these batteries would work in the Insight? Since I know nothing about battery technology and how it interfaces with the rest of the mechanics...I'm clueless as to whether ANY type of batteries can be used. I'm aware that some older EV's used Lead-Acid batteries. And that the Insight and Prius (I think?) have NiMH. But that' about all I know. Toshiba Corporation today announced a breakthrough in lithium-ion batteries that makes long recharge times a thing of the past. The company's new battery can recharge 80% of a battery's energy capacity in only one minute, approximately 60 times faster than the typical lithium-ion batteries in wide use today, and combines this fast recharge time with performance-boosting improvements in energy density...
Toshiba will bring the new rechargeable battery to commercial products in 2006. Initial applications will be in the automotive and industrial sectors, where the slim, small-sized battery will deliver large amounts of energy while requiring only a minute to recharge. For example, the battery's advantages in size, weight and safety highly suit it for a role as an alternative power source for hybrid electric vehicles.


I'm curious about what this person was meaning in response to my question last summer comparing Prius to Insight. He wrote (I think referring to the Prius,) <snipped>"...EV mode is GREAT, but the usefulness is killed by the fact that you can't grid charge the car." Does that mean that the Insight CAN BE "grid charged" ?

How long are the batteries supposed to last according to Honda? I think I've seen a few things that reference 8 years. ?? Is there also a *mileage* relationship? From what I've read in these posts tonight, it sounds like there are alot of different factors, including how the car is driven ?? that can affect this. (I saw --and copied-- the post on "How to buy a Used Insight") And from another post: "They indicated that - even though the battery is "fully" warranted for eight (count 'em: 8) years,..." Is that only for the original buyer?

Another post and question about batteries: "Especially since they don't make any effort to point out that those in mountainous areas are likely to wear out their IMA battery much faster than those in flat areas who don't need the assist nearly as much. I don't think extending the warranty is unreasonable given that the public has come to expect major drivetrain components to last at least 100K miles." MY question now: How much does it cost to replace the batteries? I live in Durango CO. Because I live in town, as compared to *out* in the mountains, I won't be doing LOTS of climbing...but some, occassionally, for sure. How have others fared that live in similar regions, with having this aspect affect their battery performance/life?


I'm looking at an '02 Insight...to buy. Any things --problems-- I should be aware of...for that production year?

I read about the "MIMA"? It sounds like this is similar to the software hacking that the CalCars & EDrive guys did to the Prius...or is it a totally different technological thing? If I wanted to do that to mine...how can one get it done?

Battery issues: I read quite a few posts where people have problems w/ their batteries...for example: "I really think I have some sort of battery issue, but am at a loss for how to adress it. And this one: "The 12 volt battery died yesterday." Is this type of thing common...or more rare? I live in Durango CO, where the is no Honda dealer. The closest one is an hour away, and I doubt they work on hybrids much, since I think they've only sold a few. So I have some concern about how often mysterious "battery issues" arise.

This note from the "How to Buy a Used Insight" post (I think?) "One thing I'd check out is the lifetime mpg (i.e. did they drive the car abusively?).
Since I live many hours from where I will probably buy my car...It seems this is something I'd like to ask the Dealer to tell me...before I plan a trip to drive 3 -14 hours to Albuquerque or San Diego or wherever I can find a Dealer that will take a trade-in on my boyfriend's gas-guzzling van, that we would be DRIVING to the place that has the Insight. (read --lotsa $$$ for gas on that trip, that I don't wanna waste...buy arriving to find out the Insight has a disappointing lifetime mpg). And how is that determined? Especially as to how it relates to "did they drive the car abusively?" Does the acronym "lmpg" that I've seen in many posts, refer to lifetime mpg?

Another question from a post that I don't think I saw a reply to: "Does the car require 91 octane fuel or is regular unleaded ok?"
I assume that is in the owner's manual? Or is there a standard answer to that question for all Insights?

RE: This post: "Learn the tricks of how the SoC and Charge indicators work in an urban test drive before you head out on your own is about the best advice I can give after you have read the linked thread above. Taking a somewhat experienced Insighter with you might make the purchase a little less like “Craps” and a bit more like a well thought out and educated decision." Excellent suggestion. However, in my case, there is very little chance of my being able to do that...unless one of you reading this happens to LIVE in the town where I end up buying my car, and would be willing --out of the kindness of your heart, or ....perhaps for pay-- to meet me at the dealership and check this out for/with me. In lieu of that, however, ... what's the next best thing I could do or look for here? Remember, I'm clueless.... I don't even know what the SoC is. I did a little looking around the Knowledge Base and Encyclopedia at InsightCentral.net...but was quicly overwhelmed by the amount of info there, that I don't understand. It appears to --mostly-- be written for mechanics or EE-types, as far as I can tell.

Again, I know nothing about battery technology....but when I read this (following )post about "recal" ...which I think may refer to "recalibration" ?? --which I have no idea what that means.... it made me wonder about some of the things I think I read about why the Lithium-Ion batteries are so good. Something about the deep cycle discharges (??) and may be why the CalCars guys are using those? "When you get a good feel as to the definition of a recal, post to this thread because I can tell many here including Honda IMA owners have never heard of it nor do they understand what it is and why one may occur. Relax until such time the degradation becomes so pronounced that you have drivability issues with it. HCH’s and even Prius’ could have one of these events although they would be hidden from the end user because there really is no good way to tell what the cap of a group of NiMH cells are worth at any given time no matter the algorithm used. Watching the actual pack voltage of a Prius II vs. the SoC meter cycling between 3 and 5 bars just this week over an extended period tells me no manufacture has a good handle on this issue just yet."


And finally, this post about EMF hazard of the Insight:
"That electromagnetic radiation hazard. Why isn't this on Art Bell - Coast to Coast? I'm sure this is a unique threat that eclipes radiation from computer monitors, TVs, and power tools" http://www.consumeraffairs.com/automoti ... sight.html
Now here's the deal with me on this: I have MCS or EI, (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Environmental Illness) For example: I can not walk into Home Depot without a respirator on ...or I get very sick; one reason I'm finally buying a cleaner-air car. When I read the Forum replies to this article...things like ..."If it's not one thing...it's another." or "something's gonna kill you eventually," ....I felt a little peaved by all the people don't have an understanding of some of the lesser-known health hazards out there and that pooh-pooh the more *subtle* energies or conditions ....thinking they are just wu-wu. Or psychosomatic. I know there have been MANY reliable studies showing the dangers of EMF's to the human physiology. Even if this one person referenced in the article, was a fraud .... After reading this article, I am still concerned about the level of EMF radiation that may be coming from some component of this car. Would it be the batteries? Or what? Does anyone else have this concern? It didn't sound like it from the replies. How can it be checked? Isn't there a fairly simple way to check the level of EMF for different devices?

And lastly, if you know anyone that's selling an Insight in my part of the world...pls pass on my contact info: [email protected]

If anyone actually got to the end of this long post, I SALUTE and applaud you. And would be even MORE thrilled if you are able/willing to write back with any replies to my questions. Thanks VERY MUCH again, and in advance, to those that share so much helpful info here.

Sincerely,
Katrina Davis
Durango CO
 

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Simple answer to a long question:

The Insight is a great car, but you will not be able to do the conversion you describe.

The Prius can run on the electric motor alone. The Insight cannot. In other words, the gasoline engine in the Insight must be running in order for the car to be driven. In the Insight, the electric motor simply "assists" (hence the name IMA or Integrated Motor Assist) the gasoline engine. This allows the use of a smaller engine for economy but provides adequate power for passing, etc.

I will leave the rest of your questions to others (or to you and the search feature - it is all there).

Jim
 

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Because of this

I have NO background in electrical engineering, battery technology, software, or mechanics. ! ! !
I dont think i would suggest

Clean Air said:
and even hope to possibly start a biz doing conversions

Maybe it would be cool for your own project, but you have to have this stuff perfected before you bring it to the public, and you might need more then 1 insight before you gain that experience

I live in Canada so I think laws are a bit different here, but recently on a trip to the states I was in a Sports store (Dicks) looking for a shoulder brace to add support while snowboarding. I could not get any of the people working to give me a straight answer on what the different braces were designed to do because they were affraid of getting sued. That would be my biggest concern on doing such a mod without any real backgound in it becausew if something goes wrong, and someone gets hurt, you will get sued


Also, the insight is pretty expensive to rip it appart and make it EV or to experiment on... I would get an Old datsun or whatever an practice my EV skills converting one of those first
 

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It depends on how much of a "conversion" you're talking about. If you want to use the Insight body/chassis/interior as a starting point to mount some other drivetrain, the advantages are the light weight and good aerodynamics. You could make it into a pure electric car by putting a big battery in the trunk area and replacing the engine and gearbox with an electric motor.

This would be a pretty substantial engineering project, though.
 

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Answers on a couple of your questions:

I drive in mountains regularly, and have not had any problems in the 2 1/2 years I've owned my 2000. The logic of the stock Insight electronics can get annoying on a long climb, though, such as driving over the pass to Silverton. Basically it drains the battery for assist, then when it gets low, starts recharging while you're still climbing. I'm hoping MIMA will fix this.

You COULD make a plug-in hybrid out of the Insight, but it would be a lot of work. You'd have to essentially re-engineer the battery controller.

There's no practical way to get an EV-only mode from the Insight. As a plug-in hybrid, you'd be using the battery to assist the IC engine and keep it in the high-mpg "lean burn" mode. AFAIK nobody's done this yet, so there's no info on what this would do to battery life.

Check the technical section for more info.
 

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There are so many questions in that one post, I'm not sure where to start. :) But mainly, I want to clear up something that may be a major hurdle to your plans.

Unlike the Prius, the Insight cannot run in "EV mode". Since the electric motor is directly coupled to the crankshaft, anytime the motor rotates so does the gas engine. So converting it to a "real" hybrid in the same sense as the Prius Plus project is not possible.

Because of the design of the Insight, grid charging and larger battery packs are also only a marginal improvement.

If you are serious regarding building EVs, look at converting Insights to pure electric. The platform is perfect for this purpose as the vehicle is already light, efficient and aerodynamic. If you are legitimately interested in starting a business, I have it on good authority that Honda has a massive stockpile of Insights that they are desperate to sell. They will be more then happy to blow them out at rock bottom prices (according to my sources). So PM me if you are serious about pursuing this and I can put you in contact with the right people.
 

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Aaron Cake said:
I have it on good authority that Honda has a massive stockpile of Insights that they are desperate to sell. They will be more then happy to blow them out at rock bottom prices (according to my sources).
Hmmm. Presumably you mean Honda America? Honda have chosen to stop selling them in the UK (where they also get the most for them -£17,000 = @ $30,000). And why do they still build them to order?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
highwater said:
And finally, this post about EMF hazard of the Insight:
By my read of your above paragraph on the subject, why the interest in EV's :?:

Randall
Because I'd like to believe that I'm not the ONLY person concerned about this...and others have checked it out and verified that it's not a concern.
 

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Aaron, I think they are stockpiling those surplus Insights in the same secret location as the sixth Avro Arrow! :wink: :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

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Katrina, hope this helps.

Has anyone done anything like this with the Insight?

Nope.

Can it be done?

Nope, for the electric motor is too small and not water cooled. A plug in mode could increase the mileage , perhaps doubling it, but not in the same way as the Prius mod.

Toshiba will bring the new rechargeable battery to commercial products in 2006.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Does that mean that the Insight CAN BE "grid charged" ?

Nope.

How long are the batteries supposed to last according to Honda?

The lifetime of the vehicle.

I think I've seen a few things that reference 8 years. ??

If you mod the Insight your warranty will be meaningless, so don’t trouble your head.

MY question now: How much does it cost to replace the batteries?

Thousands, unless Honda covers it, as has generally been the case. The alternative is a used pack.

I'm looking at an '02 Insight...to buy. Any things --problems-- I should be aware of...for that production year?

I have an 02. None that I know of.

I read about the "MIMA"? It sounds like this is similar to the software hacking that the CalCars & EDrive guys did to the Prius...or is it a totally different technological thing?

Mima does allow control of the battery in a similar manner to what is required for the Prius mod.

If I wanted to do that to mine...how can one get it done?

You will probably need help, contact Mike.

"The 12 volt battery died yesterday." Is this type of thing common...or more rare?

The 12 volt battery on any car will deteriorate rapidly. On the Insight there will be little indication of this until it actually fails, as it is not used to start the car.

This note from the "How to Buy a Used Insight" post (I think?) "One thing I'd check out is the lifetime mpg (i.e. did they drive the car abusively?).

A low LMPG will likely indicate hard use or technical problem.

Does the acronym "lmpg" that I've seen in many posts, refer to lifetime mpg?

Yes.

"Does the car require 91 octane fuel or is regular unleaded ok?"

Regular is fine.

RE: This post: "Learn the tricks of how the SoC and Charge indicators work in an urban test drive. What's the next best thing I could do or look for here? Remember, I'm clueless.... I don't even know what the SoC is.

The SOC state of charge is a meter on the dash that looks like the gas guage and performs the same function for the batteries.

Again, I know nothing about battery technology....but when I read this (following )post about "recal" ...which I think may refer to "recalibration " ??

That is correct. There is no direct way to measure the state of charge in a high tech battery, so it must be done by computer estimation. Under heavy use and varying temperature conditions the estimation can become inaccurate and the computer will discharge the batteries and refill them to reestablish the correct correlation.

EMF radiation that may be coming from some component of this car. Would it be the batteries? Or what?

The EMF was probably from the main power conductors going from the battery to the electric motor.

Does anyone else have this concern?

Most people don’t, but if you are concearned you should not consider an electric car! When I consider that truck drivers have been driving hybrid electric 200 ton ore trucks, and electric subway trains for decades without problems, I feel justified in remaining unworried.

How can it be checked? Isn't there a fairly simple way to check the level of EMF for different devices?

The Electro Motive Force can be measured with a sensitive meter.

Phew. :D
 

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Regarding the stockpile of Insights, they are brand new but several years old. On a particular model year, they greatly overestimated the number of cars they would sell. They are now stacked up in a warehouse. The price I was quoted (with fully factory warranty, financing, etc.) made my jaw hit the ground.
 

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b1shmu63, Well said


Katrina, It sounds like your very ambitious. My feeling is the Insight would be a great base for an EV but all powertrain would be scrap and you would be engineering a whole drive system. Last time I was in Laughlin Nevada there was a car in the Riverside Casino that was an EV conversion from the 70's or 80's. It looked quite simple with a motor driving the stock transmision in a Ford Mustang. If one could tap into the control for a CVT trans you could use it to keep the motor in it's peek torque curve at any vehicle speed. It sounds like Toshiba has developed a capacitor/battery combination. This could open the doors for lots of trick stuff to come but I'm sure it will be pricy and slow to come to market unless your a huge corperation with an annual purchase order that makes them see the light.

Good luck and please post info as you find it,
Todd
 

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"Regarding the stockpile of Insights..."

I have a real problem believing that story. If in fact they exist, why isn't Honda selling them? People who order new ones have been waiting months.

As to the "model year" thing, I don't think that there's any legal definition of model year, since most manufacturers start selling their 2006 model cars in 2005. Say for instance this stockpile was built sometime in 2003, why wouldn't Honda simply continue to sell them as 2004 models?
 

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james said:
"Regarding the stockpile of Insights..."

I have a real problem believing that story. If in fact they exist, why isn't Honda selling them? People who order new ones have been waiting months.
The explanation I received was that:

1. They are 2002 models. Most people won't buy a 3 year old model as new.
2. No one wants them.

I have no reason to disbelieve what I was told since the Honda guy seemed to know what he was talking about, and what would he gain making it up?
 

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Aaron Cake said:
I have no reason to disbelieve what I was told since the Honda guy seemed to know what he was talking about, and what would he gain making it up?
Why would he make something up? You could say the same thing about every urban legend. What did anyone gain from making up the following myths?:

- you can buy kidney dialysis with pull tabs
- a cake recipe cost someone $250 so she sent it to all her friends
- bill gates wants to give away free money for forwarding emails
- Life Cereal's "mikey" died from eating pop-rocks and coke
 
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