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5-17-2006 Insight History. Insight wasn't first. But reporters here certainly didn't know it; I have a massive collection of articles with that incorrect claim. In reality, Prius had already been available in Japan for 2 years. And now that the American press has become aware of their error, Insight rarely gets much mention anymore. Back when Honda started Insight sales, their product-line was nothing but small cars. A lot has changed since then. They now offer a SUV and large pickups. The aluminum body prevented Insight from ever being a cost-competitive solution anyway. It was an easy way to improve MPG that simply couldn't provide a profit. But the attention Honda got in return from only having to sell a small number of them made their original effort well worth it. That's officially coming to an end in a few months when sales permanently end.

Insight is about to become a rather unique collector's item.
 

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To my knowledge Honda did not claim that the Insight was the first hybrid. They claim that it is the first commercially available hybrid in America. The clever bit is not that Honda thought to bring hybrids to the US but that Toyota announced the introduction of the Prius and Honda changed there development program to beat them to it .

Honda and Toyota have been playing this game for years. In the ‘90s Honda supplied engines to the Target / Chip Ganassy (sp?) IRL team and helped them get the championship 3 times. Then they switched to Toyota engines and Toyota claimed that they powered the 3 time champs with there engines (they did, sort of). You have to read press releases really carefully when these two talk about the other.
 

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Our Insights will be treasured collectors items when all the Priuses are rusting away in junkyards and we're all driving around on fusion powered flying motorcycles. :)
 

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The first generatioin Prius was indeed on the roads in Japan before the Insight. That car was too underpowered to be considered viable in North America and was never exported. The next version of Prius was more powerful and became the "first" North American Prius. The 2004 Prius was the third and current variant of the Prius.

The 5 speed 1999 Insight was the first hybrid available in North America. Seven years latter it is unchanged, unchallenged for extreeme hypermiling, and now out of production.

scootr06 said:
That's officially coming to an end in a few months when sales permanently end.

I was at Burnsville Honda today chatting with a genetleman who assured me that they had just snagged the last available 2006 Insight for one of their customers and were having it shipped from Florida! Sorry folk the tickets are now sold out. :(

scootr06 said:
Back when Honda started Insight sales, their product-line was nothing but small cars.
Ah, the CRV SUV was out before the Insight, and so was the Acura Legend @ 200HP and the aluminum bodied 245 HP NSX sports car. (The Acura brand predated the Lexus and Infinity marques if I'm not mistaken.)

scootr06 said:
They now offer a SUV
Actually they offer three, The Accura MDX, the CRV, and the Element.

scootr06 said:
It was an easy way to improve MPG (aluminum body)
Designing an aluminum monocoque body for production is extremely challenging technically. Honda holds many patents. It will never be cheap, common, or easy.

scootr06 said:
Insight rarely gets much mention anymore.
Perhaps, but it still gets attention anyplace I go. :D
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong but ...

The Prius is both electric and gas driven. As with the Insight the primary power plant is a gas engine but unlilke the Insight, the Prius can be driven forward/reverse by either gas engine or electric motor (but not very far in the case of the electric motor/battery capacity)

The Prius vehicles appear to have nothing on the Insights, save for seathing for four and a much higher price tag.

... or am I wrong?
 

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Fred said:
Correct me if I'm wrong but ...
The Prius is both electric and gas driven. As with the Insight the primary power plant is a gas engine but unlilke the Insight, the Prius can be driven forward/reverse by either gas engine or electric motor (but not very far in the case of the electric motor/battery capacity)
The Prius vehicles appear to have nothing on the Insights, save for seathing for four and a much higher price tag.
... or am I wrong?
you are wrong , kind of anyway ... both stock insight and stock prius are 100% gas powered... all energy used by the car comes from gasoline....

1> An extra plug in battery can be added to the prius as in the companies that make the PHEV Prius add on... and Mike has shown that the same modification can be added to the Insight with a booster plug in battery pack....

2> The EV-Mode of the prius... availible stock in Canada every US EV-Mode Prius I now of modifies thier US prius to use the canadian feature even if it is a simple mod to do ... allows the user to pull out slowly and drive in low speeds in pure EV mode.... A modification to the Insight MIMA will allow the user to rev the engine with the IMA and force the Insights fuel cut mode and thus be in Pure EV mode as well... although pulling out in this method in a manual insight is a bit tricky without useing any gas... prius will never have a manual option so a MIMA CVT Insight reving the Engine into fuel cut Ev-Mode should pull out just as easily as the EV mode Prius which you can only get in CVT ... the EV-Mode in the Prius is only at low speeds ... The Fuel Cut MIMA EV Mode of the Insight is at any Speed .. I have used it at 50 and 60 MPH going down the road when testing it ...

3> Both Insight and Prius stock batteries are too small for much more than 1 or 2 miles of EV mode operation... and since all the power of the stock battery comes from gasoline... and thier is always losses of the conversion from gas to motion from motion to electrical from electrical to chemcial and from chemical back to electrical and from electrical back to motion... it is always more efficient and better on MPG of a stock HEV prius or insight to use the electric batteries as little as possible.

I know allot of people like to say the Pumping losses of the Insight forced fuel cut reduce the efficiency a great deal... true ... but the Prius is always heavier a constant loss of power ... the prius is not as good for cd as the insight another constant loss of power when over 40MPH .... the Prius uses a CVT were the insight can use a manual transmition and at any given speed a manual transmission is always more efficient than CVT ... CVT is only better for those drivers who don't know how to shift efficiently when accelerating... The larger engine of the prius will use more gas going down the road even at idel than an Insight will just becuase of its larger size... another hit ... The Prius only gets better MPG in the City on those numbers becuase during the test they use up the stored battery power and don't have to restore what they use, unlike the insight... Real world driving the highway MPG is always better becuase energy is always lost in stop in go .... always easier and uses less energy to keep something moving than it does to stop and go stop and go... in a nut shell... and good Hyper Miler driver will always get better MPG numbers in a equally equiped Insight over the Prius... stock Insight vs Stock Prius or PHEV Prius vs PHEV Insight.

But ... if you need more than 2 seater that the Insight is ... then the prius or the civic are both good options for 4 door cars.... and if you like to feel the road and your driving less and ride in more of an isolation chamber than the prius is better at that too....

so in a nut shell there are a few differences that will matter more to some than to others... but any HEV is better than a non HEV....

And yes... I put HEV above Desel engines even if the Desel engine gets better MPG which they rarely if ever do... and the reason... is that the HEV... pushes Vehicle technology more... recovery of braking energy is one.... another is the improvement of batteries .... they allow for PHEV to get way better MPG than Desel engines... and they help develope the technologies nesseccary to improve Pure Electric Vehicles... where Desel Engines do not.... HEV and PHEV are stepping stones to a much much better way to transport ourselves... Desel Engines are a much better ICE but that are not stepping out of the limitations of ICE... and as such will not beat the PHEV or Pure EV that all come as stepping stones from HEV.

While I am here... one more thing.... A mixing transmition as the prius uses to mix Gas and Electric power while nifty and very creative ... will inherently be less efficient than the Honda Design of coupling the electric motor to the ICE... it is really a simple matter... the gears that attach the Electric motor and the ICE motor to the drive train have frictional losses you get losses coming from the Electrical motor and you get losses from the ICE and you get losses from the gearing to the wheels... if they use belts you get more losses than gears as the friction of the belts flex constantly.... granted these losses add up to still very small numbers.... but if You put 10KW of electric and 10KW of ICE into such a mixing CVT Transmition you will always get out les than if you put 20KW just into a CVT like the Insight does... the benefit of the Prius Mixing CVT system is to remove the pumping losses in a EV-Mode that the Stock insight has.... But Honda then on the 2006 honda Hybrid Civic ( HCH06 ) came up with a very creative way of also reducing the pumping losses of a EV mode... which reduces the losses more and which of those two is the more efficient EV mode.... that I dont' know ... but the Civic design will still be more efficient when running the ICE than the Prius design will be.

my 2 bits.
 

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Wow Ian, I think that was 3 bits!

I spent a day this week in a Prius, very nice and very much like a real car. ;) How and why the Prius achieves its efficiency is a complex topic. Honda and Toyota have taken very different routes, but in the final analysis the Prius and Civic achieve virtually identical results for real world MPG.
 
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