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Discussion Starter #1
I just downloaded those excellant 1 page Insight brochures from the "comments" thread, and was greatly impressed. However, one thing hit me like a hammer: the bold text proudly proclaiming "The car never needs to be plugged in". Am I the only one that sees this as a major disadvantage? We should not be hyping the fact that it cannot be plugged in, we should be maligning it. Evertime I give the "standard speech", and they ask if you have to plug it in, I always say "Unfortunately, I can't.". Which then leads to the discussion about why not being able to plug in is a major disadvantage, and how auto manufacturers should be striving for both pure electric vehicles, and true hybrids which CAN be plugged in...

Just a thought.
 

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When the general public thinks of an electric vehichle, it's: "I've got to keep my speed under 50 mph to go 150 miles, then it's got to be charged overnight".

Hybrids and FCV are not the conventional electric vehichles, but many hang on to the misconception that they are just as limited as conventional EVs.
 

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Aaron Cake said:
I just downloaded those excellant 1 page Insight brochures from the "comments" thread, and was greatly impressed.
Thanks! :D I put it together with help from Dflach.

The "never needs to be plugged in" was not in Bold in the UK version - talk to Ucffool who revised the UK version for the US!
However, I would imagine that he was trying to emphasise the correction of the common misconception about our Insights.

Personally, I agree with you that the ability to plug in Hybrid vehicles would be useful but I would suggest that manufacturers have avoided this method so that they can sell Hybrids as normal, get in and drive cars.
 

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I'm not all that sure about the alleged advantages of pure electric vehicles, myself, at least as long as an appreciable fraction of electrical generation is based on fossil fuels.

Say you drive an EV in LA, which means that when you plug it in, the electricity might be generated from a coal-fired plant on the Navaho rez in Arizona (so you're exporting your pollution). Then the electricity gets shipped over the power grid, which is by no means lossless (10% at least, IIRC), you charge your batteries, which again aren't 100% efficient, and lose yet more energy when you extract electricity from the batteries to drive around. Plus if you want any sort of range, you're using more energy to haul around quite a weight of batteries, not to mention the energy & environmental costs of making & recycling those batteries.

So figuring all that, are you really gaining much, energy-wise, from an EV versus an Insight? Maybe if the technical and/or political climates would allow building non-fossil powerplants, it would be a different story.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm not entirely convinced that EVs are so limited anymore. I mean, the EV1 could do 130 miles per charge. There is an electric Insight conversion that will run 280 miles on it's pack of Lithium-Ion batteries. For me, there are rarely days when I drive more then 280 miles. If I did, I would just take my gas car...EVs have their place, and for most of the population who drives 20 miles a day to work, it would more then suffice. Even backyard EV conversions can do 70 miles or so on regular lead-acid batteries.

But that's not really the point. While we all know the Insight cannot run on battery only, it's sort of annoying that the public is not being warmed up to plugging in their car. I recently spoke with someone who said "you plug in a hair dryer, not your car". This blew me away, especially when this person could not offer any justification against plugging in. I can only assume that they have been brainwashed.

As for the EV pullution issues, all those who believe that EVs simply "shift" the pollution should read this report:

http://www.princeton.edu/~bcjones/trans ... myths.html
 

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Just skimmed through it, but notice the table about halfway down, where they compare an EV1 against an Acura 3.2 TL, and get 69 mpg-equivalant vs 24 mpg? But stick the Insight in there instead, and you get 69 vs 73 (about what I get), not to mention that I think they left out transmission system losses. So the Insight is better now (and I think could readily be improved by a third or so), and offers much greater range, acceleration, handling, etc.

Of course for a completely fair comparison, you would have to find two vehicles with very nearly the same body style & performance.
 

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I think the whole plugging in argument is more of the fact that people fear what they do not know. The fact is it takes less time to slip a paddle in to a slot or connect a plug than it does to go out of your way to a refueling station, then fuel up a car then drive back home. Living in Arizona GM had it's EV1 program partially here (still a few of em out there too, but the numbers are dwindling) and the drivers I've met could not be happier with their cars. One local owner I know of is on his 2nd EV1 and it goes back in october. The first one he racked up about 40,000 miles on before it was recalled, his current one has about 60,000 miles on it. Shortly after getting his first one he sold his other gas car. It will be very interesting to see if he willingly turns his car back in next month.

Other owners I know have a S-10E (GM's production electric S10, ev1 drive train in a S10 basically). Since getting that truck their gas vehicles have hardly been used. The still existing public charging is still decent in the area, which they have a blast with. Many areas offer some of the best parking spaces to EV drivers. At the ball park down town EV's get better parking spaces than the players do.

Really it's a shame to see GM take their EV program they way they did. They quote lack of demand as reason for them shutting the program down and crushing all the cars. While the fact is there was a waiting list to lease EV1's when the plug was pulled. Don't get me wrong, I love my Insight, but if I could trade it for a EV1 it wouldn't even be a question. In fact there is a partially done conversion Saturn sitting in my back yard, it would be my current commuter, but my school won't give me charging there so to do the drive there and back would put a lot of deep dishcharges on the pack and end it's life quickly. I'll finish it some day.

I'd be interested to see how the public would recieve a true real hybrid. A car that could run on gas, electric, or both and have grid rechargability with an electric only range. Basically here it is, you can recharge it, you don't have to. It'd probably scare some people away.

In response to the hair dryer comment I say this. You plug in your cell phone, you plug in your PDA, you plug in your laptop (ok mainly the cell phones). But would you want a gas powered version of those devices?
 

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Just skimmed through it, but notice the table about halfway down, where they compare an EV1 against an Acura 3.2 TL, and get 69 mpg-equivalant vs 24 mpg?

I drive both the Insight and a fully electric automobile (a professional conversion). People often ask if the Insight has to be plugged in, and I'm always quick to say, "No, but I wish it could be," and then explain the potential advantages of being able to plug in, or operate the gas engine and electric motor independently of one another.

The "Impact" as many already know was the 1st prototype for the "EV1" and essentially identical except for minor changes. I don't know where the 69 mpg-equivalent mentioned above came from, but very early on GM was using a figure of around 225 mpg-equivalent for the Impact. While accurate in one sense, the 225 figure was not entirely accurate because it did not take in the inefficiencies of battery charging. GM wanted to get the number down, but I can't imagine the EV1 being as low as 69 mpg-equivalent unless being driven in a performance mode.
 

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perception

It's all about public perception. EV's are stigmatized as being impractical, slow and wimpy. Something like minivans. Very practical vehicles that got a bad reputation through targeted marketing.

Anyway, there is a really good illustration of this on the yahoo group:
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/hon ... ssage/8307

It compares the car to the cell-phone. For historic reasons, we're used to cars running on gasoline. And we (the public) think it's absurd to power them with electricity. The same way, we're used to cellphones to run on electricity and we'd think it to be just as absurd to have them run on gasoline (as the article by Geoff illustrates)!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
james said:
Just skimmed through it, but notice the table about halfway down, where they compare an EV1 against an Acura 3.2 TL, and get 69 mpg-equivalant vs 24 mpg? But stick the Insight in there instead, and you get 69 vs 73 (about what I get), not to mention that I think they left out transmission system losses. So the Insight is better now (and I think could readily be improved by a third or so), and offers much greater range, acceleration, handling, etc. Of course for a completely fair comparison, you would have to find two vehicles with very nearly the same body style & performance.
True. That is the only basic problem with that report. But the way I see people drive, I cannot help to think that they must be getting WAY lower mileage then the manufacturer would claim. I know this to be true with my RX-7, but maybe that's a special case. At any rate, the short trip, stop and go can make even the cleanest gas car (ie. Insight) very dirty compared to an EV, where your electricity can come from any green source. Buy it from the grid, make it yourself, it's all electrons. :)

But it's nice to heard the EV supporters coming through. I would be curious to find if any of them are members of the EVDL? I've been a lurker since 1998, but can't really post due to lack of time.
 

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I do not believe that EVs are slow. There are very impressive EV dragsters, since the capacity for electric motors to carry a load is limited merely by temperature, which takes time to accumulate. That's why they are used to pull trains. Massively overload them for a short while to get the train up to speed, then let the motors cool down while you coast down the track.

I do believe that EVs are more effective at exporting their pollution than they are at reducing it. That would be difficult for an EV owner to accurately evaluate, since out of sight is out of mind. Meanwhile, when I consider the way we tend to increase our dependency upon the grid until it massively fails, as it recently did in NY and adjoining states, I can't see where shifting the substantial energy needs of vehicles in America to be supplied by the electric grid as a good thing. Again, the grid seems to have infinite capacity, but it doesn't, and you don't find that out until you've exceeded that capacity.

The essential problem with electric vehicles is that the least expensive battery technology is also the most efficient battery technology in all areas except for portability. Lead acid batteries are more energy efficient than any other battery type, but they are heavy, and for portable applications that require as much kenetic energy as shoving a car around, lead acid batteries do not work well.

More exotic battery chemistry is expensive, especially at the capacity levels required to drive a car hundreds of miles. Even with exotic batteries, the compromise is between capacity and weight. More of one is more of the other, and more weight requires more capacity to carry, and effects your design options for space, suspension, braking, etc.

Hybrid technology makes more sense. You are taking the strong points of both gas and electric technology and coordinating them in a way that complements the whole vehicle. Take a gas engine just large enough to do what gas engines do well: Cruise for long distances. Do not build it large (and heavy) enough to give the vehicle low end torque or impressive accelleration. Use electricity for that.

Add an electric drive system that does what electric drive systems do well: Add low end torque so you can run the gas engine at minimum rpm for lowest pollution and highest gas mileage, and give the vehicle the accelleration for getting up to highway speeds, passing Hummers and climbing East Coast mountains. Don't make the batteries large enough for long distance cruising, which would substantially add weight.

It doesn't make any sense to plug in a hybrid because the actual energy held in those batteries is not enough to move the car very far. At peak boost, the battery adds about 10% to the power that the gas engine is providing. It would not be worth the added weight and cost needed to add the circuitry to the car to provide a plug to charge the battery.

That 10% is quite significant for accelleration and the weight reduction and fuel efficiency the hybrid gets compared to a gas engine that would produce that same 110% horsepower, while that oversized engine spends most of its time cruising down the highway. But that 10% could not drive the car. That's the whole point of a hybrid system.

Engineers have been trying to get EVs to work well for decades. They've been working on hybrids for a small chunk of one decade. If EVs were that much better than hybrids, it seems like they'd have better results by now.

Fuel cells offer a new way to change the math for the basic battery capacity and weight problem for EVs. The battery (fuel cell) can be of a size needed to provide the power level needed for the car, and then the fuel tank size and weight determines the capacity. Meanwhile, the problem with fuel cells is that though in theory hydrogen is everywhere, in practice, getting that hydrogen in useful form requires a lot of energy, and the whole point here is to conserve energy. The fuel cell promoters seem to forget that.

Individuals may have a great experience driving their EVs. They don't have to deal with their pollution because it goes somewhere else. They also don't have to deal with the collapse of the grid because there aren't enough EV owners yet to bring down the grid. This is simply not a technology that most of us could turn to because the impact on the common resource would be greater than it could handle. We can't take all our limitless energy lust and shove it all through the electric grid. We need to diversify our energy consumption.

Drive your car with gasoline as miserly as you can make that vehicle with that resource. Cook your food with natural gas or propane. Electric heat is convenient, but not efficient. Refrigerate your food with electricity. It is more efficient than propane, though propane is quieter and more pleasant to live with. Heat your house with wood or oil or gas. Eventually, air conditioning will cease to be practical. It consumes too much energy, despite our short-sighted denial in that regard. When we have to choose between energy for air conditioning or for growing and distributing food, likely we will abandon air conditioning.

If we don't start using less energy, there will be too little time to figure out how to provide basic energy for other generations in the not so distant future. We are already fighting wars over oil, and pushing to suck oil out of places we previously decided to protect from the industry. Sooner or later, we'll have to use less. I wish we'd start tapering down now so we won't have that really rude shock when suddenly it is all gone and we spend that last drop fueling war machines to make sure we get it instead of "somebody else".
 
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Rick said:
Really it's a shame to see GM take their EV program they way they did. They quote lack of demand as reason for them shutting the program down and crushing all the cars. While the fact is there was a waiting list to lease EV1's when the plug was pulled. Don't get me wrong, I love my Insight, but if I could trade it for a EV1 it wouldn't even be a question. In fact there is a partially done conversion Saturn sitting in my back yard, it would be my current commuter, but my school won't give me charging there so to do the drive there and back would put a lot of deep dishcharges on the pack and end it's life quickly. I'll finish it some day.
They're actually destroying all the EV1's? That's a damn shame. I don't see how they could really get an accurate picture of the demand for the vehicle, since as I understand it, they were very difficult to get ahold of. A good many people who may have wanted one would just go the easy route and buy a dino burner out of convenience. And we're supposed to believe the current administration's energy policies, and ties to Detroit, have nothing to do with this.....

I too, though I love my Insight, would choose a mass produced pure EV anyday. I aspire to do a backyard conversion some day (A back yard is a prerequisite I don't have yet).
 

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more than 10%

Great post, Will.

I don't quite agree with some of your opinions, but I accept them. But this one I will take issue with:

Will M said:
It doesn't make any sense to plug in a hybrid because the actual energy held in those batteries is not enough to move the car very far. At peak boost, the battery adds about 10% to the power that the gas engine is providing.
Take the Insight for example: Honda specs say at 2000 rpm (peak torque), the IMA motor supplies 1/3 of the torque. This equals 1/3 of the power. Many of us who drive for great gas mileage accelerate at this or even lower rpm, where the electrical portion of the torque provided is even greater.

So, the electrical power supplied is significant. But you are right, the size of the battery is a strong limitation here. As has been discussed in various threads about modifying the Insight too be a grid-chargable hybrid. You are correct in saying it make slittle sense, to plug the existing hybrid (Insight) in as it is designed. But it would make a lot of sense to plug in a future hybrid with larger battery capacity.
 

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But remember, those EV dragsters only have to go a quarter mile :) For more range, you have to add more batteries, which means more weight - not just the weight of batteries, but also the structure to support them. That in turn affects handling & acceleration... The basic problem is that batteries just don't offer anywhere the same energy density as gasoline or other fuels.

Of course the Insight design isn't the only way to do a hybrid, either. I think if I were doing one, and batteries were cheaper, I would do an electric drive off a battery pack maybe 5x the size of the Insight's. That pack would be recharged by something efficient, like a small gas turbine, that would run at constant speed.

Then when technology allows, you could swap out the turbine for a fuel cell - which doesn't have to run on hydrogen. Maybe ethanol/methanol, so you could grow your fuel.

As to fighting wars over oil... Well, I disagree, but I'll stay off politics, and just say that it helps to have read the Koran :)
 

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el_vacho said:
They're actually destroying all the EV1's? That's a damn shame. I don't see how they could really get an accurate picture of the demand for the vehicle, since as I understand it, they were very difficult to get ahold of. A good many people who may have wanted one would just go the easy route and buy a dino burner out of convenience. And we're supposed to believe the current administration's energy policies, and ties to Detroit, have nothing to do with this.....

I too, though I love my Insight, would choose a mass produced pure EV anyday. I aspire to do a backyard conversion some day (A back yard is a prerequisite I don't have yet).

Yep, sending em to the crusher. There is a big lot somewhere in southern california where they sit and wait to go to their final end. Or rather being "recycled" as GM puts it. As far as obtaining one it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do. If you inquired about one at an opportune time you could get one if you passed the pre requisites, which was you had enough capacity in your home to support the wall charger and you had another gas car. They then took a break as the gen 2 was developed and while they also fought the california EV mandate. When they had to deliver they quickly put as many gen 2's in california as they could to meet the dead line. Now that that requirement is gone they don't want anything to do with ev's any more it seems. Apparently about 100 are being spared and are going to be driven by GM employees in colder weather environments so they can get more data. Still, between my last GM vehicles problems and what they did with the EV1 program I will probably never buy GM again.

To make things look worse they have been offering people the chance to get out of their leases early also. There is no option to buy the car. To my knowledge a hand full of the S10E's got out and GM has been hunting them down. They want them very badly, but all of the owners I know of won't even talk (good for them). Actually there are three owners in the valley here. I've been for a ride in one on two separate occasions. Very cool truck.

Now I wounder what happened to the Honda EV+'s? I know some of them are being made in the the FCX's they are testing in Japan and California. What about the other 300 they made?
 

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Excellent post, Will M

When we have to choose between energy for air conditioning or for growing and distributing food, likely we will abandon air conditioning.
...but I and my Big D buddies will give up our a/c when they pry our hot, dead fingers off the thermostat... :lol:

...but point(s) well-taken. So many folks I meet have the same misconceptions about electric vehicles ("pollution-free!") and are now expecting hydrogen fuel cells to be right around the corner... siiiigh...

I've said before, we're not running out of energy... we ARE running out of CHEAP energy. There will always be some sort of fuel to power our vehicles, our homes, our offices. The free market will see to that. But instead of $25-a-barrel oil, it may be $90-a-barrel oil. Or some synthetic fuel we can't even imagine now (some guy in Podunk figures out how to get 98-octane fuel out of crabgrass combined with melted Lucite or some such madness)...

We can't do it all, but we can do a little bit each... our Insights are proof of that. It's like the old story of two buddies walking along the beach at low tide, surrounded by thousands of starfish dying on the sand. Once in a while, one guy would pick up a starfish and toss it back into the ocean, saving its life. Finally the other could stand it no longer, and said "why are you doing that? There are millions of starfish here. What difference do you think you're making?"

His friend replied, "well, it makes a difference to that starfish I just threw back in..." :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I do believe that EVs are more effective at exporting their pollution than they are at reducing it.
This is what everyone says to me, and but they cannot prove it. Electricity is as clean as the source that makes it. Even the dirtiest coal fired plant is much cleaner then the equivelant amount of gas cars running around.

as it recently did in NY and adjoining states
Don't forget Ontario. No power here for 28 hours. :)

The essential problem with electric vehicles is that the least expensive battery technology is also the most efficient battery technology in all areas except for portability. Lead acid batteries are more energy efficient than any other battery type, but they are heavy, and for portable applications that require as much kenetic energy as shoving a car around, lead acid batteries do not work well.
Since when are lead acid the most efficient battery type? I would also beg to differ about not working very well. Thousands of EVs are driven every day with good-old lead acid technology, and seem to be doing fine. Not that I am a fan of lead-acid of course. There are much better batteries out there. Lighter, that pack more AH then Pb cells.

More exotic battery chemistry is expensive, especially at the capacity levels required to drive a car hundreds of miles. Even with exotic batteries, the compromise is between capacity and weight.
The Li-Ion Insight I mentioned is only 200 LBs over stock. Just make a lighter car. Conversions suck. Sorry to say this, but taking a heavy gasser and throwing in an EV drivetrain is the wrong way to go. A car must be designed from the ground up to be a good EV. Much like, in my opinion anyway, the difference betwen the Insight (engineered) and the Prius (slapped together).

You are taking the strong points of both gas and electric technology and coordinating them in a way that complements the whole vehicle.
This is exactly the opposite of my opinion. :) The current hybrids represent the worst of both technologies. Small electric motors, small battery packs, small gas engines that still need maintenance, tuneups, have to pass emissions, etc. Only the Prius can drive electric-only, and that's after the combustion engine has warmed up. And short distances as well. Driving the Insight electric-only is a joke. 2KM of range, and you're still spinning over the ICE. What we need are hybrids with larger battery packs, larger motors, and smaller engines. Make something that will go 20 miles before starting the gas engine (easy to do) and we'll find that very few people are spinning over those pistons...

It doesn't make any sense to plug in a hybrid because the actual energy held in those batteries is not enough to move the car very far.
It makes perfect sense in a true hybrid, not the mild hybrids that we all drive.

Engineers have been trying to get EVs to work well for decades. They've been working on hybrids for a small chunk of one decade. If EVs were that much better than hybrids, it seems like they'd have better results by now.
EVs do work, and work well. EVs in use: golfcards, forklifts, lift trucks, milk floats, subway trains, trollys, scooters, etc. The EV1 was an amazing piece of machinery. It worked and worked well. Unfortunately, GM does not work so well...But that's another story. We have the technology now to build affordable 300 mile EVs. But no one will produce.

Meanwhile, the problem with fuel cells is that though in theory hydrogen is everywhere, in practice, getting that hydrogen in useful form requires a lot of energy, and the whole point here is to conserve energy. The fuel cell promoters seem to forget that.
I love fuel cells. We can make hydrogen as green as we want, just like electricity. It's only the auto-makers and oil companies that suggest we reform oil to get it.

They're actually destroying all the EV1's? That's a damn shame. I don't see how they could really get an accurate picture of the demand for the vehicle, since as I understand it, they were very difficult to get ahold of. A good many people who may have wanted one would just go the easy route and buy a dino burner out of convenience. And we're supposed to believe the current administration's energy policies, and ties to Detroit, have nothing to do with this.....
It's a very long story, but essentially GM built 1300 or so EV1s, then refused to sell them, only lease. And it was not easy to get a lease either. They then come out with press releases saying "EVs don't sell". Well duh, if you only lease them. As soon as CARB let up on GM, all EV1s were recalled and they are being crushed, disassembled, or rendered "inactive" and donated to museams/schools. GM had a waiting list 10,000 long, and they say there's no demand...

The basic problem is that batteries just don't offer anywhere the same energy density as gasoline or other fuels.
Very true. But most people only need that energy once and a while.
 

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Aaron Cake said:
Even the dirtiest coal fired plant is much cleaner then the equivelant amount of gas cars running around.
No. The article you linked quoted a 96% reduction in HC's, 99% in CO, and 67% in NOx. It also quoted a 203% increase in SO2 (that's 3x as much) and a 122% increase in particulates (over 2x as much).

I don't know what kind of cars they are using and where they got their numbers. For example, how old are the numbers? What sort of cars are they for? The article talks about improvements to power plants but not to cars... LEV, ULEV, SULEV, there are big drops in pollution outputs for each of these standards. Did they use a modern standard or something else?

That said, if we take their numbers on faith and treating all pollutants as equals, the % increase in SO2 output is enough to offset the % drop of both HC and CO combined, and the particulate increase exceeds the decrease in NOx. I would call that an increase in pollution.

Furthermore, that's not just for coal, but for the full U.S. power mix. So the case for the "dirtiest coal fired power plant" is even worse. With the recent EPA decisions relaxing rules on old power plants, this is not necessarily going to improve.
 

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"EVs do work, and work well. EVs in use: golfcards, forklifts, lift trucks, milk floats..."

All of which are short range, low speed, usually operated within a very short distance of a charge point. And notice that many of them, like forklifts, are applications where battery weight is not a drawback - gas-powered forklifts often have hundreds of pounds of cast-iron weights bolted on :)

"I love fuel cells. We can make hydrogen as green as we want, just like electricity..."

Hudrogen fuel cells suffer from the same kind of drawback that electric vehicles do: with current technology, there's no way to store the amount of energy needed without adding a lot of parasitic weight.

Then there's the cost issue. The Insight battery pack costs a couple thousand, right? How many packs would be needed to drive a full-electric Insight for even 20 miles - 5, 10, 20, even more?
 

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Hey Aaron and Christian,
The "never needs to be plugged in" was not in Bold in the UK version - talk to Ucffool who revised the UK version for the US!
However, I would imagine that he was trying to emphasise the correction of the common misconception about our Insights.
Sorry it took me so long to get into this thread, been busy last few days.
Yes, I bolded that in the US version, and was the only adjustment that was made to the original that was not directly related to converting metric and/or British dialect. I did make the .doc version publicly available if you don't want this line bolded, you can simply adjust it.

However, my rationale was based on the 'stun' I got when reading the line... it strikes you when you read it, and because of that felt further emphasis couldn't hurt. The #1 question people get is whether it needs to be plugged in, and so in this long list of semi-technical information, I figured I'd draw attention to the 'big question' for those who would not care to read the whole thing. Essentially, as Christian so wonderfully pointed out, it was based on public response.
I'm not anti-EV, and an optional quick-charge could be very useful (since MPG improves with an 80%+ SoC), but that's not the situation with the Insight, and most people aren't interested in the dramatic change, just suttle 'behind-the-scenes' (which is the problem with Fuel Cell's and Bush's waste.... but that's a seperate opinion).

Anyway, hope this makes sense, and no one takes offense. I was editing it with the ignorant (it's ok to use this term in a non-derogatory fashion, just to clarify) reader in mind. To Christian, I hope this doesn't detract from your original, because this is your work, and I took license to it, so upon your request I would change it.
 
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