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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anybody gone total EV conversion with the Honda Insight - new electric motor, controller, battery pack, BMS, gutted all the ICE-related stuff, et al? Does anybody know of info, links to something of this ilk? Originally when I bought my gen1, I was thinking that someday it might make a good base for a total ev conversion. I haven't really looked into it, but thought I could at least post the question...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I saw the original blog for this build, and a thread in another forum. But there were no updates beyond late 2011... I didn't see this post though. I'll read it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There's some good info there. For example, they pulled a bit over 400 lbs out of the car, engine, exhaust, IMA stuff. Not a whole lot, actually. Unfortunately the blog seems to end just when it gets started. Also, they're trying to build a long range vehicle - with a 73kWh pack that weighs 1,080 lbs, plus they're using an EV1 motor and transaxle, not really an off-the-shelf kind of thing... The most I'd like to do is probably 40kWh...

I saw a Nissan Leaf for sale - $18,000. At one point I thought that, in the not-too-distant future, a used Nissan Leaf might be affordable, and maybe one could transplant all the electrics to the Insight... The Leaf has only a 24kWh pack...
 

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There are a few EV project floating about with threads on here mine included.

Progress is painfully slow, and i'm also reluctant to gut a working engine car over here as they are so rare. Ones with blown engines just don't come up.
 

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Has anybody gone total EV conversion with the Honda Insight - new electric motor, controller, battery pack, BMS, gutted all the ICE-related stuff, et al? Does anybody know of info, links to something of this ilk? Originally when I bought my gen1, I was thinking that someday it might make a good base for a total ev conversion. I haven't really looked into it, but thought I could at least post the question...
eq1,

I know that MNDriver has been planning this for some time.

I talked with him personally last year at the Renewable Energy Show in Stevens Point, Wisconsin last summer.

Jim.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all for the leads... I was kind of in Peter's boat today, thinking that the Insight as-is is almost too good to mess with, or at least too close to being great to gut one completely, not a good, running one... But who knows...

If it had just a light, 6.5 amp-hour lithium replacement pack (maybe 8, maybe 10) and a programmable IMA system, I'd be reluctant to think about any EV rebuild. But even just 'doing' this setup would be so much work that one might as well go whole hog...
 

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Thanks all for the leads... I was kind of in Peter's boat today, thinking that the Insight as-is is almost too good to mess with, or at least too close to being great to gut one completely, not a good, running one... But who knows...

If it had just a light, 6.5 amp-hour lithium replacement pack (maybe 8, maybe 10) and a programmable IMA system, I'd be reluctant to think about any EV rebuild. But even just 'doing' this setup would be so much work that one might as well go whole hog...
While I like the idea of a BEV only insight ... and maybe I'll do one someday ... especially once I am out of apartment living and have a garage ... and maybe with a good deal on one , after all as long as the core stuff I'm keeping is good , The other stuff could have been bad or already gutted and sold by a junk yard.

Still ... another large part of me likes the idea of tweaking and improving it as a PHEV .. as you say though , that's no small project either ... and my current apartment living makes anything needing a plug to charge less useful ... sense I don't have access to a plug right now ... although that too would change when I eventually have a garage and such.
 

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eq1,

I know that MNDriver has been planning this for some time.

I talked with him personally last year at the Renewable Energy Show in Stevens Point, Wisconsin last summer.

Jim.
What 3-wheeler said.

Plans are 320 volt nominal system 19.2kwh LiFePO4 pack, figuring 120 miles 100% to 0% or about 96 miles with 20% padding for battery longevity. Motor and controller with high performance in mind(I should have them next month). I'm hoping that I can get the project finished before the weather becomes unbearable to work in the garage and then performance testing will be in August. A stock Insight is 1810 pounds with about 2 gallons of gas in it. I think it is safe to say that without any gas that it is a hair under 1800 pounds. Aluminum body that won't rust when you've finished your conversion, lightweight, super aerodynamic, a large dedicated space that already exists for hybrid components and gasoline that can be used to house the battery(or at least most of it, if not all, if you aren't too ambitious on range). Once I get started and I've done the first tough step of coupling the motor and transmission(after removing the gas engine), I'll fire up a thread. I'm thinking it might be a month or maybe two before I have a thread up with details and pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Good luck. I'll be looking out for your thread. Feel free to just add on here - good thread subject heading for it...
 

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Did you ever start/finish this project?
I bought a Soliton Jr and a Kostov 9HV motor for the car and had a bunch of people in the Minnesota EV community, primarily in the MN Electric Audio Association group that said this would be easy. Someone generously made me a keyed motor coupler(with the bolt faces that line up on the flywheel to the motor) out of a scrap piece of metal that he found that happened to have the right hole locations, the hole inside was too big though and it didn't fit. The biggest concern I had the entire time was getting the motor mated to the transmission and retaining the clutch. This is the part that stonewalled the entire project. I have no idea how to find someone who can make an adapter to mate the motor to the transmission. I've had people suggest Electro Automotive to make one and then I had a dozen people tell me that company would take over a grand of my money and not provide me with a product. I hadn't found someone who would be willing to me one, I was willing to pay people for time and materials, but franky did not know what type of person to ask to help. After a few years have passed and me sitting on the motor and having a second Insight hanging out in the garage waiting for this conversion, I ended up seeing the EV market develop, the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Bolt, Telsa S 3 X Y, etc come to be. Now I see the price of used EVs cost less than the price of batteries and also see the availability of parts for an Insight seem harder to get. If I convert an EV and then later end up unable to get parts to keep the car on the road, I don't think I have the energy to move everything over to the new car. Seeing that a used EV now costs less than the price of batteries for the conversion, it doesn't make sense for me anymore. I would probably feel different if I knew someone who could help me mate the transmission to the engine 5+ years ago, but at this point gasoline is cheap and my gas Insight is cheap enough to drive as it is.

Off topic - I don't see any electric cars on the market that I like. Tesla makes me angry when I see how they abandon their customers and don't sell parts to people like me who replace things when they break. ..which gets worse when their cars, especially the Model S and X are unreliable and super expensive to fix. It seems like all these Youtube videos I watch are 'yeah, this, this, this, and these other few things were replaced under warranty' and 'I love my service center' quickly become a problem when those same parts like $1000 automated slide-out door handles fail to pop out. I buy cars when they are 10 years old or older and the majority of their depreciation takes place. The Tesla cars have a bow-down cult allowing them to hold their value a bit but the cars in the earliest at least 3 years seem to be ones I wouldn't want to touch due to the reliability issues.
The cheapest used EVs like the Nissan Leaf have fried(literally overheated) batteries with significant range loss and I don't want to deal with that, the Chevy Volt first generation has problems with the temperature sensors and also a 'propulsion power limited' sort of error that plagues the first generation. The iMIEV is a very basic car and might be decent but I fear that will be a disaster to get parts for because it was such limited production.
The charging networks for non-Tesla cars is NOT prolific and I can't even get from Minnesota to the western side of the next state over(South Dakota) easily for a price cheaper than a gas car and it just seems pointless to try to do it without a Telsa or a gas car and the Tesla proposition will never save money, it's a financial non-starter unless the Model 3 or Y really prove to have changed things and Tesla begins to respect that owners want to work on their cars. Without an aftermarket or any access to parts, that's a car company that I will not do business with until they fix that major problem.

My short term plan - Continue driving my 2000 Honda Insight until it doesn't drive anymore. If the engine dies, it gets in a severe crash, or I can't find a critical part, it goes to the junkyard. After that I'll be buying a 2003-2007 Toyota Corolla, preferably with a manually transmission. I find the Toyota's to be easy to work on and the service manuals aren't lacking critical information on how to find parts and how to replace them. I've found that Honda cars are really hard to work on when referencing the service manual. The oil pressure switch was leaking on one of mine and the service manual said to take the intake and a pile of other stuff off including coolant lines, this forum said to use a shortcut with some other tools but the other tools like a crescent wrench or whatever it was that I had didn't fit. I figured it would be cheap to get a shop to do it and they charged me 3.3 hours or whatever the Mitchell on demand book rate of labor time when I literally sat in the shop for 30 minutes to have them replace it. With a Toyota pretty much everything is easy to reach and replace, they have better service manuals and also have Haynes manuals, and I really want to go back to that. There are piles of Corollas in the U Pull It yards too. My long term plan, I'll get a Toyota hybrid with a lithium ion pack. The NiMh pack mess with these cars has been a rough experience, especially the way the voltage sag and self-discharge characteristics. It's difficult to measure entire sticks to swap these out and it's almost a sure thing that the sticks you think are good are going to have a few cells in them waiting to fail in a year or so. It seems difficult to track down with standard Prius cars have the lithium ion packs, so I'll probably aim for a plug-in hybrid(1st ones) but I'd prefer a Prius Prime. I'll probably wait until the oldest of those reach the 10 year mark and look for one of them if the Insight lasts that long, otherwise I'll probably be driving a Corolla.

Sorry for the rant. The 1st Gen Honda Insight would be a screamer of a car with a powerful electric motor though. I figured from my intended 100 cell 60Ah LiFePO4 pack and a 600 amp controller that I'd get something close to about 162 ft lbs of torque out to about 5252rpm, aka 162 horsepower. It just didn't work out, I lost my steam with the motor adapter assistance that I thought wouldn't be so hard to find and now with production EVs available I lost the rest of the interest.

I did meet another person who made an Insight EV out of another silver Insight though, he took the manual tranmission locked it in 2nd gear and put a Curtis AC controller and a HPEVS motor on it. There is a thread somewhere here on it, I even took a few drag racing videos of it and one video where I was inside the car. The performance is roughly the same once you get to 2nd gear speeds as the stock Insight with a good IMA battery but when you slam the pedal to the floor from a stop, it takes about 2 seconds to spool up due to the controllers garbage programming and the fact that he locked it in 2nd gear an completely removed the gearshift lever from the car and replaced it with a metal plate, there was no way to turn get that performance he lost back. At the same time, I've seen people whine about people putting a DC motor into an Insight, but to me a high voltage interpoled DC motor is the superior answer and I really get almost zero benefit from regeneration anyway because my trips are almost all on the highway anyway, so you might as well go to performance and skip the AC powertrain options with slow response. For EVs everyone has their own opinion on how to do it right, I wanted to do it the way I wanted it done because it would be my car. The goal was to make it the most efficient EV there was with a long highway range and have noticeably better performance than stock and this was the way I thought was best to do it.

Hopefully I didn't piss anyone off with this post but it answers the question, in detail.
 

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The only EV I would consider to convert into the Insight would be the Chevy Spark EV. The size is about right and the battery pack is small enough. But then Spark EVs are staying valueable, 6-8K. Have seen one for $4k before. So I remain hopeful. But then I consider how good the Insight is at being a hybrid.
 

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The Nissan Leaf ac motor has an identical spline as the insight engine (for anyone considering)
Which bit do you mean exactly?

The manual gearbox input shaft?

The CVT Input shaft?

Something else?
 

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On the topic of EVs... I just traded my m/t 2000 silver Insight in on a 2017 Chevy Bolt. I got casually interested in the Bolt when I found out it has a 250 mile range around town (200 miles highway), battery degradation has been minimal, and I saw a new 2020 model year Bolt LT being advertised as low as $21,680 (about half the MSRP). Battery pack is 60 kWh. Majority of owner reviews are positive.

I then saw a 2017 California off-lease Bolt with 22k miles for less than $15k offered here in Atlanta. I went to look at it and was offered a trade in deal on my Insight I couldn't refuse. The Bolt I purchased has the fast DC charge option, climate control (heated steering wheel and seats), and driver confidence (lane warning and rear back up warning) options. The Bolt came with a 120vac charger (8 to 12 amps), which can charge at 240vac 12 amps as well. For my use, I found charging at 120vac 12 amps to be adequate.

So far so good. I just plug it in after each use and after charging over night, I have a fully charged battery by morning.

I don't see myself taking long distance trips in the Bolt. The first leg would be around 200 miles and then stop to eat for 45 minutes or so, while DC fast charging, would then allow another 135 miles travel. For longer distance trips I still have my 2001 CVT Insight and it can tow my teardrop trailer as well. Around town though, the Bolt is really nice. If you put your foot in it, you have to be cautious of torque steer!! I only have two minor complaints...seats are really firm and I wish it had a heat pump instead of a resistance heater...both fairly minor issues. Oh yeah, one more...no spare tire...just an air pump. I added a spare tire and a jack to mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
^ I drove a Bolt a while back, felt really nice, fast, solid, etc. To my eye, though, they're really ugly, just all sorts of 'clutter' inside and out...

fyi, I've recently seen some youtube videos of an Aptera comeback. The Aptera is a three-wheeled, super aerodynamic 2-seater, now fully electric (about 10 years ago when it was first introduced, it was I think either gas-only or hybrid). It has a drag coefficient of something like 0.13, weighs about 1800 lbs, pack options ranging from 250 miles to 1,000, base price is around $25k, solar options, front wheel drive via hub motors or all-wheel drive. A really cool vehicle. It's like a modern successor to the Insight... It'd be nice if the thing actually ends up being produced.
 

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Yes, the Aptera is indeed an interesting car, but it faces a stiff headwind getting into production - bad history, 2 seater, safety, cheap gas. I just doubt it is worth the $100 to be on the purchase list. Would love to have one.
 
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