Honda Insight Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Experimental Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 Mpg
CORTE MADERA, Calif. - Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage.
It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret — a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.

Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car.

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb — all for about a quarter.

He's part of a small but growing movement. "Plug-in" hybrids aren't yet cost-efficient, but some of the dozen known experimental models have gotten up to 250 mpg.

They have support not only from environmentalists but also from conservative foreign policy hawks who insist Americans fuel terrorism through their gas guzzling.

And while the technology has existed for three decades, automakers are beginning to take notice, too.

So far, DaimlerChrysler AG is the only company that has committed to building its own plug-in hybrids, quietly pledging to make up to 40 vans for U.S. companies. But Toyota Motor Corp. officials who initially frowned on people altering their cars now say they may be able to learn from them.

"They're like the hot rodders of yesterday who did everything to soup up their cars. It was all about horsepower and bling-bling, lots of chrome and accessories," said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman. "Maybe the hot rodders of tomorrow are the people who want to get in there and see what they can do about increasing fuel economy."

The extra batteries let Gremban drive for 20 miles with a 50-50 mix of gas and electricity. Even after the car runs out of power from the batteries and switches to the standard hybrid mode, it gets the typical Prius fuel efficiency of around 45 mpg. As long as Gremban doesn't drive too far in a day, he says, he gets 80 mpg.

"The value of plug-in hybrids is they can dramatically reduce gasoline usage for the first few miles every day," Gremban said. "The average for people's usage of a car is somewhere around 30 to 40 miles per day. During that kind of driving, the plug-in hybrid can make a dramatic difference."

Backers of plug-in hybrids acknowledge that the electricity to boost their cars generally comes from fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases, but they say that process still produces far less pollution than oil. They also note that electricity could be generated cleanly from solar power.

Gremban rigged his car to promote the nonprofit CalCars Initiative, a San Francisco Bay area-based volunteer effort that argues automakers could mass produce plug-in hybrids at a reasonable price.

But Toyota and other car companies say they are worried about the cost, convenience and safety of plug-in hybrids — and note that consumers haven't embraced all-electric cars because of the inconvenience of recharging them like giant cell phones.

Automakers have spent millions of dollars telling motorists that hybrids don't need to be plugged in, and don't want to confuse the message.

Nonetheless, plug-in hybrids are starting to get the backing of prominent hawks like former
CIA director James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney, President Reagan's undersecretary of defense. They have joined Set America Free, a group that wants the government to spend $12 billion over four years on plug-in hybrids, alternative fuels and other measures to reduce foreign oil dependence.

Gaffney, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy, said Americans would embrace plug-ins if they understood arguments from him and others who say gasoline contributes to oil-rich Middle Eastern governments that support terrorism.

"The more we are consuming oil that either comes from places that are bent on our destruction or helping those who are ... the more we are enabling those who are trying to kill us," Gaffney said.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Nick Cappa said plug-in hybrids are ideal for companies with fleets of vehicles that can be recharged at a central location at night. He declined to name the companies buying the vehicles and said he did not know the vehicles' mileage or cost, or when they would be available.

Others are modifying hybrids, too.

Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries. It is forming a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year, company vice president Greg Hanssen said.

University of California, Davis engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg. They were converted from non-hybrids, including a Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Suburban.

Frank has spent $150,000 to $250,000 in research costs on each car, but believes automakers could mass-produce them by adding just $6,000 to each vehicle's price tag.

Instead, Frank said, automakers promise hydrogen-powered vehicles hailed by
President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though hydrogen's backers acknowledge the cars won't be widely available for years and would require a vast infrastructure of new fueling stations.

"They'd rather work on something that won't be in their lifetime, and that's this hydrogen economy stuff," Frank said. "They pick this kind of target to get the public off their back, essentially."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050813/ap_ ... _tinkerers

Okay I admit it. Most of the benifit is plugging it in but it looks like those Lithium Ion batteries are a good idea saving weight, improving the regenerative capabilities, and being able to store more charge from home. I thought you might be interested in this.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
634 Posts
:roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

One of my co-workers came up to me and said "Look, here is a car that gets twice as much as yours, and I'm telling you the same thing I told her.

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AGAIN.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
408 Posts
Yeah, it's going to get you extra mpg for the 20 miles the extra charge lasts but once it's dead, you've got a regular hybrid (with heavy batteries). I wouldn't mind a plug in charging system for the Insight as it would allow us to try for higher mpg without having to worry as much about recharging the battery. This would be a huge plus for MIMA users.

I can understand why Honda or Toyota didn't incorporate plug in charging systems so the stereotype of plug in electric vehicles could be avoided even if it could be a feasible.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,948 Posts
Infinitenothing said:
Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries. It is forming a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year, company vice president Greg Hanssen said.
And therein lies the rub. While LiI have great power density and service life the price reflects it :!: :shock: Doesn't take too much foresight to predict sales will be small ;)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,332 Posts
I like the plug in concept but there are two problems.

Assuming that a hybrid will travel 200,000 miles in its life, and assuming that it is an Insight getting 70 miles to the gallon, it will use 2,860 gallons of fuel. If we put in a battery system that doubles fuel efficiency for the first 20 miles per day, we save 3,600 dollars. at twenty miles per day , driving 365 days per year it will take 30 years to travel that distance. To break even, the batteries have to last that long. The system also has to cost less than 3,600 dollars and the car can not be driven more than twenty miles a day.

Second, if you live in the north that system has to cost 2,000 dollars or less due to the tremendous drop of efficiency in cold weather.

If the cost of gasoline doubles and battery costs are reduced by 90 percent, the plug in concept makes sense economically. Otherwise it is just for bragging rights or to save the world from pollution.

Still, I'd love it on my Insight. :wink:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
278 Posts
Just to clear up a couple of issues....

The batteries in Ron Gremban's car are lead acid - not lithium - and this is why it only has a ~20 mile assist range. It is a development mule for the Prius+ group, a collection of non-profit based enthusiasts.

The Edrive systems car has been converted using Valence lithium-ion batteries. The 9 kWh or so allows an assist range of 50-60 miles which is well above the average daily commuting distance for most folk. Because the existing NiMH pack is removed, the conversion only adds 80kg in weight to the car and mileage doesn't suffer too badly with a depleted pack because the internal resistance is much lower than the standard kit, meaning greater regen efficiency etc.

There are several reasons why the Edrive conversion is so expensive right now ($12k). First, the conversion, the packs, the electrics, everything are hand built in tiny volumes (I think only two cars have been built so far). Second, they're a company, so they're out to recover their research costs and make a profit. Third, the Valence LiIons cost about $1,000 per kWh because these too are currently being made in very low volume. Valence themselves realise that for their battery to make it big in the automotive world it needs to be much cheaper, about $250 per kWh, and they reckon they can meet this target in the future with larger production volumes.

For what it's worth, other formats of lithium-ion battery that have already made it to large volume production have reached about $300 per kWh. This means that the battery costs of 9kWh storage would be about $2,700. Minus the $1,000 cost of the existing Prius NiMH pack and you've got a cost "to Toyota", should they begin to manufacture such a thing, of $1,700 over a current Prius.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
kapps said:
Yeah, it's going to get you extra mpg for the 20 miles the extra charge lasts but once it's dead, you've got a regular hybrid (with heavy batteries). I wouldn't mind a plug in charging system for the Insight as it would allow us to try for higher mpg without having to worry as much about recharging the battery. This would be a huge plus for MIMA users.

I can understand why Honda or Toyota didn't incorporate plug in charging systems so the stereotype of plug in electric vehicles could be avoided even if it could be a feasible.
To be fair, I drive 17 miles to work... for me... 20 miles would be enough (as long as I could find an outlet at work :twisted: ) Grocery stores are really close too. I think the 60 mile range on the Li system would work for most people.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Calpod said:
:roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

One of my co-workers came up to me and said "Look, here is a car that gets twice as much as yours, and I'm telling you the same thing I told her.

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AGAIN.
Why? Whad-I miss. I get that the high mpg has limited range and that it increases your electric bill. But the electricity is made locally... not in the middle east. And another benifit- in different parts of the country, the electricity is made cleanly. And, the range is enough for most people. I get that it costs alot but (as with hybrid technology in general) there's always a premium to improving the enviornment. Global warming not a concern to you?
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Hi Infinitenothing:

___Let us think about this for a moment. You have a 34 mile per day commute. 170 miles per week with an extra 30 + for around town grocery shopping and such. You are at work for a maximum of 50 weeks of the year. That equates to ~ 10,000 miles per year. If you own an Insight 5-speed, I will assume you are averaging in the low 60’s to low 70’s range like many here. 60 mpg overall would be a guess to the low side maybe? At an eye opening $3.00 per gallon, you would spend a grand total of $500 for fuel for the entire year. How is a $10 - $12K Li-Ion pack and controller setup on top of a used $10K Insight (I know the article discusses the Prius II) as well as however many $’s it takes to charge a 10 kWh pack everyday make any sense at your current extremely low rate of fuel consumption? You can still sell the non-modded used Insight whereas the modded one, only to an EV enthusiast who knows exactly what the hell is going on more then likely.

___Oil independence is most certainly a very good thing but there are economic entanglements that have to make sense before even the best of ideas become practical.

___In terms of GW, an EV is not necessarily better then a non-EV depending on where the energy to charge comes from.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:3gs8s83y][email protected][/email:3gs8s83y]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
xcel said:
Hi Infinitenothing:

___Let us think about this for a moment. You have a 34 mile per day commute. 170 miles per week with an extra 30 + for around town grocery shopping and such. You are at work for a maximum of 50 weeks of the year. That equates to ~ 10,000 miles per year. If you own an Insight 5-speed, I will assume you are averaging in the low 60’s to low 70’s range like many here. 60 mpg overall would be a guess to the low side maybe? At an eye opening $3.00 per gallon, you would spend a grand total of $500 for fuel for the entire year. How is a $10 - $12K Li-Ion pack and controller setup on top of a used $10K Insight (I know the article discusses the Prius II) as well as however many $’s it takes to charge a 10 kWh pack everyday make any sense at your current extremely low rate of fuel consumption? You can still sell the non-modded used Insight whereas the modded one, only to an EV enthusiast who knows exactly what the hell is going on more then likely.

___Oil independence is most certainly a very good thing but there are economic entanglements that have to make sense before even the best of ideas become practical.

___In terms of GW, an EV is not necessarily better then a non-EV depending on where the energy to charge comes from.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:32akslqp][email protected][/email:32akslqp]
Hey... that's what they say about hybrids in general now (that it doesn't make economic sense link). Doesn't stop you guys and I agree with your decision (early adopters really are going to get the ball rolling). And, as said previously, that $15000 may become $1500 on a large scale production. I don't own a hybrid but I'm doing alot of research and waiting to see what the market has to offer in the next generation. BTW.. might not want to post your email addy... spam haversters are out there.


In terms of GW, do you have anything to back that up. Big power plants are always more efficient than tons of little engines. That means less CO2. The transmission losses and electric engine losses are minimal.
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Hi Infinitenothing:

___There are early adopters and there are those that have $’s to burn. I prefer not to be in either camp. If Toyota offered the basic Prius II with light-duty PHEV capabilities for $31 K stripped, can you guess as to how popular the Prius might be today? If you thought total Insight production numbers were bad, you might see a similar number of Prius II +’s if they did come in at $31K + to start?

___Another automobile you may have been interested in the past. The Rav4EV. A small box that went from 0 - 60 in 18 seconds and cost just $42,000 or lease for $450 +/month. It used no gas at all! The purchase price was ridiculous, its range was 125 miles so you would only have to charge it every 3 days, the price to replace the pack after 100,000 + miles costs more then a new non-EV RAV4, and its performance was … well … middling at best. You can make EV’s fast, you can make them environmentally friendly but until those pack breakthroughs actually hit the pavement, you cannot make them long range with decent performance while at the same time cost effective by any means.

___As for the E-Mail, can you get a hold of me directly if you wanted too? The Spam is deposited where it belongs ;)

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:1eawl95j][email protected][/email:1eawl95j]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,819 Posts
"How is a $10 - $12K Li-Ion pack and controller setup on top of a used $10K Insight..."

Money isn't everything, you know. How does souping up a '55 Chevy, restoring an antique, or building a hot rod make economic sense? For that matter, how did the first personal computers make sense?

Or look at it from the other side: Even if you added an additional $12K or so battery pack to the price of an Insight or Prius, they'd still be cheaper than your average SUV. So why does it make economic sense for people to buy those? The simple answer is that it doesn't. People buy SUVs (or other gas-guzzlers) for reasons of status or perceived safety (or because they feel in need of a 5000 pound penis enhancement :)). For those who can afford the purchase, economy is seldom a significant factor.

So why should hybrids be different?
Why isn't it perfectly OK for those of us who have the disposable income to spend it on a car that expresses our environmental and/or patriotic feelings?
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Hi James:

___It is one thing for an owner to purchase a Porsche 911 or an H2 at a ridiculous price. It is another to purchase the same automobile for $10K + more then said purchase price to save < $350.00 a year at $3.00 per gallon all the while losing the warranty, losing resale, and more importantly, losing any capability to drive it in to your local dealership to have it fixed if needed.

___You can convert your Insight to a pure EV for ~ that price IIRC but I see you haven’t performed that conversion yet? Is that because you are not patriotic? Not by a long shot! I only know about 3 or 4 Insight EV conversions. Maybe Clett could give us a more precise number but again, would you purchase an EV based Insight w/ 10K + worth of extra batteries in it for $20K or would you simply purchase the $10K used Insight and spend $500 for fuel per year? I think most here know what the answer to that question is given the fact that 99.99% of the Insight’s driven today are not EV or even partial EV conversions.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
___[email:a4rse941][email protected][/email:a4rse941]
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
489 Posts
I can't agree with the argument regarding "giving your enemies money to buy weapons." Without naming names, the countries that would mass produce the batteries are just a hostile as the middle east, but far better armed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,819 Posts
"It is another to purchase the same automobile for $10K + more then said purchase price to save < $350.00 a year at $3.00 per gallon..."

Saving $350 or whatever per year is pretty irrelevant to me, but that sort of bean-counting economic argument completely misses the point. You might as well try to argue that the Porsche buyer's goal is to shave a few minutes off his or her daily commute.

"...losing resale..."

Don't plan to sell it, at least not until the resale value is down under $1K or so.

"...and more importantly, losing any capability to drive it in to your local dealership to have it fixed if needed."

I would never take any car to a dealer for any repairs not covered by warranty, and maybe not even then. Learned my lesson the first time, when I took a Subaru to a dealer to have a timing belt replaced, Quoted at about $250, the final bill was over $900, and the car went less than 20 miles before blowing the engine.

As for doing an Insight EV conversion, I would be very surprised if one could give me the same performance and adequate (200 miles minimum) range. Nor have I seen one that could be done with the amount of time & effort that I'm willing to devote to it. But a 2-3X larger battery pack (maybe from a wrecked Prius) with a grid or solar charging option should be much easier than a conversion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,819 Posts
"I can't agree with the argument regarding "giving your enemies money to buy weapons.""

Some of that is getting off into politics, so I won't argue about relative degrees of hostility. However, there is no insurmountable obstacle to producing batteries anywhere in the world, while you can only get oil from the places where it is.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
278 Posts
Can I attempt to condense the arguements in this thread please?

Many people see a benefit from a PHEV Insight or Prius and would welcome the niceties of a quiet EV mode and a (partial at least) escape from gasoline dependence, both personally and on a national scale.

But, most people are unwilling to pay a hefty premium in order to own one, particularly if there is no economic sense (ie payback during the ownership of the vehicle) in doing so.

This is of course entirely reasonable and how the vast majority of people make their judgements and the reason why Toyota does not currently sell a PHEV option today.

So the issue really comes down to the cost of the batteries. The Valence batteries used in the Edrive Prius may cost $9,000, but that's because it's only a prototype. Edrive are not expecting to sell to private individuals at all - they have their order books full from large organisations who are keen to promote the "green" technology with assistance from government grants and other incentives. Yes, the first PHEV Prii will roll out with a $12k premium, but these early adopters, in the form of these organisations, will provide data for and stimulate the market for further PHEV development and cost reductions.

Put it this way, how much would you have had to pay for a Gen1 Prius back in 1993? A million? More? But a bit of development and some volume market reductions and the price comes right down.

As I've said before, the price of lithium-ion is plummeting, year on year in 18650 form. If the Valence batteries could be bought wholesale by Toyota for the same price as other mass-market LiIon batteries, then the additional cost to Toyota would be only $1,700 per vehicle for a 50-60 mile electric-assist range. For a 30 mile assist range, the price premium would be only $850. Cut about a third again from these prices for the more efficient Insight.

I think a lot of people would be prepared to pay this sort of premium on a new car for a 50-80% reduction in gasoline usage.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top