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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My son and I were comping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains last week with my 2001 manual transmission Insight. We drove up from Shaver lake to Huntington Lake, using relatively high gears to be able to make use of the regenerative braking on the way down. So the battery was about empty. We then decided to try the road up to Florence Lake, where my family used to camp when I was a kid. When we came to a steep section near Kaiser Pass, it stalled. I got out and even pushed a little, but it would not make it up the grade in first gear without battery charge. Maybe we could have charged it at idle, but we turned back.
Shaver Lake is around 5,000 ft. Huntington Lake is 7,000. Kaiser pass is about 9,000 ft. I don't know the percent grade. The 1946 Dodge, the 1953 Dodge V8 and my MG B all made it up with a full load and without problems, in first gear.
So driving on very steep mountain roads, at least, takes some planning and special driving technique to keep the battery full. I suppose it would have made it if we had used lower gears early in the trip to keep the battery charged, but I am not sure of that. It might have still failed to negotiate the grade with assist, or it might not have been possible to keep the battery charged for the whole 4,000 foot climb. Has anyone tried Pike's Peak?
 

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Sounds like you were in a 'forced recharge' state. That takes 20-25% of the engine's output.

You could have most likely done it with/without assist if it wasn't trying to charge the battery at the same time. I climbed some very steep grades (7-9%) in Yellowstone last month and had no real issues.
 

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Yep, gotta conserve battery to the max when in those types of situations.

I ran into that once when we were going to look at a place to rent up on a hill. Battery died and I just couldn't make it. I finally had to back way down to a flat spot, and get a good running start in 1st.

If you really wanted to make it, you could have pulled the EPS fuse and revved the engine to 3500RPM until the battery was full.
 

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Or.......Don't be a hypermiler and let the little "bugger" run........It loves the 3-4K range (for power)

Willie
 

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So driving on very steep mountain roads, at least, takes some planning and special driving technique to keep the battery full. I suppose it would have made it if we had used lower gears early in the trip to keep the battery charged, but I am not sure of that. It might have still failed to negotiate the grade with assist, or it might not have been possible to keep the battery charged for the whole 4,000 foot climb. Has anyone tried Pike's Peak?
Wow .. did you down shift and keep your rpm's high like Willie suggest?

That's a very scary situation if you did downshift and keep your rpm's high & still stalled out.
 

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The engine doesn't have enough power until VTEC kicks in to pull up significant hills without assist. If you can't get the revs to above ~3000RPM in 1st, you'll slow down and stall. Starting off on such a hill is almost impossible. The one time I did it, I could feel every power stroke as the engine turned over at ~800RPM, not gaining any speed, just crawling. It made me cringe.

It has to be a pretty steep hill though for this to happen.
 

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I bet ... did you try poping the clutch to get the rpms up?
Yep.. slipped the clutch like mad, which also made me cringe. It just couldn't do it. Like I said, had to back down and get a running start.. lol. It was pretty bad.

We totally take our IMA torque for granted. It's very painful when it's missing.
 

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Unless you have a turbo.......At 2800 rpm your are at an "Instant Power" scenerio.
Hee Hee.

Willie
 

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No real help with your situation, David, since we have the CVT. But ten or so years ago, just a month or three after we got our brand-new Insight, My Beloved and I proceeded to put 5200+ miles on it to "check it out" (a new-car tradition with us, we always break-in our new cars on a loooong road trip). Went to New Mexico, Arizona, doubled back to 4 Corners, northwest up to Utah, and came back through Colorado and Kansas, dropping through Oklahoma on the way back. The lowest our battery ever got on some of those steep climbs, at steady highway speeds, was about 2/3 of the way down. And we drove 70-90 on most of the highway legs. I don't recall any driving or climbing problems at all. :cool:

And to answer your question, I have reason to believe we were the very first CVT Insight to the top of Pike's Peak (I believe, from postings here at the time, at least one MT beat us up there). The battery went about halfway down going up, and went all the way up to the last bar on the way down (it's typically one bar down in everyday use; that was one of the very few times I've seen it "topped off"). Full disclosure: We didn't make it up to the summit in a continuous drive, since we stopped every few miles to take pictures and such. Going down, if memory serves, our mpgs were just short of 130mpg, but not by much... again, with a lot of stops for pictures and looking around. :D
 

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I have no problems with big hills, for people who have been to the portland area I take the hill out of portland on highway 26 which is very very steep with no issues. My battery is completely dead, it can't even do 4 bars of boost for 20 seconds. My system is to get into second gear on the flat before the hill and get it up to 55-60 MPH, yes that means its boiling at 5K RPM. I even have passing power for the whole 2 mile hill. Honda engines were built to rev, keep your speed and RPMs up and you will have no issues. And yes that doesn't make for good gas milage but it evens out on the way down.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks all.
The engine was well below its torque peak, so keeping up the speed or slipping the clutch horribly might have helped some. But there was a curve coming up that it could not have made at maximum torque speed in first gear.
Yes, I read here that removing fuse 12 allows it to get full charge when out of gear. If I had known that I might have tried it. It charges at idle when it is that low, so if we had had a lunch or good book with us that would have been another possibility.
I don't think it was "forced" charging at all. The rpm was too low to charge.
With charge, in a way, it is even better at that than a flathead is. I once tried sopping and starting in gear. It jerked to a stop when I put on the brake. Then when I stepped on the "throttle" it jerked to a start! The electric motor maintains torque, probably all of it, down to zero rpm (like a turbine or steam engine).
The '46 and '53 Dodges had fluid drive, so the revs didn't fall too far when the cars slowed. The 1946 Dodge had a flathead with its torque peak at 1200 rpm.
 

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Yeah, the car won't force charge if the engine load is above a certain point.

And yes, all you can do is get the revs up and try to keep them up. Try stopping in the middle of the hill and restarting without assist, interestedguy. :) The Sylvan hill isn't anything like we're talking about in this thread though. It's only a 6% grade.

The problem with twisty mountain roads is that you have to slow down around the switchbacks so much. It's not a problem if you can keep your speed.

When I'm doing my mountain run route, often the battery will be depleted in the test before I'm high enough to fully regen on the way down. There are a couple of places where I have to shift into 1st gear to make it if I don't have assist, and of the four cars I've driven #1 seems to be the most powerful.
 

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I read here that removing fuse 12 allows it to get full charge when out of gear. If I had known that I might have tried it. It charges at idle when it is that low, so if we had had a lunch or good book with us that would have been another possibility.
I was not aware of that ... so its a fact that if I remove fuse 12 my car will force charge?

Is there anything I should be aware of is I have to do that one day?
 

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I don't live in a very mountainous area, but if I did I'd probably install a clutch switch mod. That way, I could disable assist until I *really* needed it. Otherwise you use up all your battery climbing hills you could climb anyway with revs, then have no boost when that steep switchback comes.
 

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I believe it's fuse 18..whatever the EPS fuse is.

And you have to hold the RPM at like 3500 to get the background charge. It's not something you would generally want to do except perhaps in desperation, I think.
 

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Kaiser Pass in a G1

I drove over that pass 2 summers ago and barely made it. The Sierra's are also my backyard, and Sonora Pass is my home turf. Kaiser has those very tight, 10mph/one lane turns on a very steep grade at the top. The lower approach for the first 2,000 feet of gain out of Huntington Lake is well graded and suckers you into using mostly 3rd gear.

My rule of thumb in unknown mountain grades is start downshifting when you've used up 50% of your battery. Don't be afraid to run the engine over 4,000 rpm, meaning you can drive at 55mph in 2nd gear.

On Kaiser at the steepest/windest part I also run out of battery, but kept my foot floored and took the corners as fast as possible. I got lucky and did not have to stop for oncoming traffic.

Clint
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks malachev.

Good to hear from someone who knows the same mountains and even the same pass.
Yes, keeping the revs up by using lower gears before getting up where you need them is certainly the way to do it. I had a Civic that broke its its timing belt at about 4000 rpm going up hill and had no compression in any cylinder after that, so it is nice to know that the Insight has a chain cam drive.

Going up Mount Diablo (Near San Francisco Bay) was different. The grade stays about the same for most of the way, between the best speeds for first and second gears. I went most of the way up in second, ran out of charge and finished in first gear. I then had to watch my speed a bit to keep from over-reving it. It would have been better, not knowing the road, to use first while I still had charge left, but I was also still getting to know the car at that point and wanted to see what happened when I ran the battery down.

There is another point related to mountains I have been wondering about. When the battery gets all the way full, going down in these places, the gauge stops indicating charge, but I am not sure if the generator is turned off. It would be better, in mountains, to continue the regenerative braking to take the load off the mechanical brakes, and to dump the power in a resister (electric heater). The resister might be somewhere in the cooling water, which of course would be getting too cold in these conditions. I don't know whether the engineers thought of that detail or not, only that it stops indicating charge.
 

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There is no dump load in the Insight. If the battery becomes full, regen will be cut off. It wouldn't really be worth the added complexity to implement such a system, I don't think... though I certainly appreciate the idea.
 

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There is no dump load in the Insight. If the battery becomes full, regen will be cut off. It wouldn't really be worth the added complexity to implement such a system, I don't think... though I certainly appreciate the idea.
This loss of the regen braking effect happened to me on the down slope from the icefields on the Banff/Jasper Hwy 93 in the Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains just a couple weeks ago.
After a full recharge the regenerative braking force was noticeable by its absence entering some corners and a bit extra foot pedal force was necessary than what i have been accustomed to which had been flatland driving mostly with rolling hills and river valley's at most. My battery SOC mainly sat at 19 bars most of the time.
I dropped down to forth then third in some corners for a bit of engine compression braking when the IMA wouldn't take any more charge.
No issues were experienced with the adequacy of the friction brakes on my Insight, just had to push the pedal a bit harder. Next time if i'm apprehending long down grades ahead, [now more planable with that cool map system linked ], I'll try and bleed off some charge on the upslopes first on the next trip. I'll guess the other limiting feature on regen might be how much heat is generated in mountain driving when the batteries are in use. I generally try and minimize IMA use.
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Albeit expensive, an ultracapacitor/supercapacitor add-on system for absorbing rapid charges from braking forces [and rapid release of energy for quick bursts of power in acceleration/or slow release of energy for later recharge of the IMA battery] is quite intriguing. I'm curious now what potentials exist these days for use of ultracapacitors in hybrids as an absorber of brake force or source of energy? Have these been used much in hybrid cars to any extent?
 
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