An Insight into the Honda Insight.

An Insight into the Honda Insight.

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peterperkins

Original Poster:

2,778 posts

214 months

Monday 13th August 2007
quotequote all
Many of you reading this will know I am an avid EV fan, with a passion for electronic and mechanical tinkering built up over 40 years (I am 45 now). I have built three road going EV’s and several electric bikes over the last 20 years, my latest creation, “Solarvan”, a solar assisted 96v AC Li-ion powered Bedford Rascal many of you will have seen in the flesh or at www.solarvan.co.uk. I have done some low level motor sport, 12 car rallies, production car trials and the like, and class myself as a vehicle enthusiast but not an out and out pistonhead smile , luckily I can drive fast at work on duty when needed wink , so I don't need to go mad in my own transport.



Over the last few years with the rising cost of petrol, road tax and environmental concerns I had been looking at replacing my gas guzzling superb fast luxury Saab 9000 Aero with something a little more sedate and cheaper to run. I had not thought much about Hybrids until I came across a website www.insightcentral.net extolling the virtues of a virtually unknown (to me) car which achieved amazing economy (83mpg combined UK cycle). I read almost everything on this informative site, and found out the “Honda Insight” as it was called, introduced in 1999, was an Aluminium, ultra light, futuristic looking, ultra low emission, petrol electric, two seater (Hybrid). Note the Insight is not a true "Hybrid" even though it has a petrol/electric power plant, because it cannot run on electric drive only, the electric motor assists the IC engine. The UK cars are classed as "petrol" on the registration documents, and are not exempt from emissions test during the MOT like the Toyota Prius.




I knew some had been sold in the UK, but not how few redface until I wrote to DVLA in April 2005, who told me there were only 257 registered in the UK, and of these only about 70 were genuine UK spec cars (there are some subtle differences), the rest were imports. I convinced my wife we should test drive one, and see if we could fit in it! I am 6’4” and my wife is 6’1”. After a few months searching on the UK Honda website and Autotrader in late 2005 a Blue 2001 25,000 mile UK spec car came up in Lancashire at the Lancaster Honda dealer for £6999. We zipped over in the Saab and to our surprise we could fit in it easily, and liked the quirky styling. The car had been traded in by a very happy owner who I later corresponded with, he had just bought a brand new Insight, and one of the last new UK Insights to be sold in the UK. Sadly Honda stopped production of the car in mid 2006 with less than 15,000 produced in total, the current Civic IMA alternative is not a patch on it.



On the 100 mile drive home in my new toy, I as an inexperienced owner managed 80mpg, whilst the Saab guzzled three times a much fuel. It had to go, and did a few days later. I quickly realised after a few days that a new obsession was going to consume me in the future, “Hypermiling” i.e. achieving the best mpg I could whatever the cost! Over the next few months with info gleaned from helpful owners worldwide, I built up lot of experience with all the cars little tricks and quirks. The manual version of the Insight has a feature called “lean burn” which enables the engine when warm to operate with an ultra lean air/fuel ratio of 22:1 for quite long periods. This effect also includes a catalyst purging 5 second rich burn cycle every couple of minutes to clear the Cat of Nox built up, but captured during lean burn. The effect of this clever system means mpg can be pushed to over 100mpg for long periods on suitable roads/terrain at speeds of up to 65mph. My mpg steadily improved into the high 80’s and then low 90’s over the next few months, and we trundled down to the Dordogne in France for a touring holiday in the car. It cost £100 in petrol for our two week trip of nearly 1700 miles at an average of 95mpg.

After this revelation in economy motoring my wife’s fairly frugal Vauxhall Corsa also had to go, so a search started for a second UK car. I found a 2002 regd 65,000 mile UK one on E-Bay in early 2006 and sniped it for £6200. We duly drove down 200 miles in the blue Insight to collect the new yellow one, our Insight convoy on the way back was probably a UK first, and had drivers rubber necking at the strange sight. The Corsa went the same way as the Saab and sold a few days later. We now owned three vehicles, two UK Insight’s and my EV all tax free. Post March 2001 Insight’s are in emissions band A <100g CO2/Km (80g/km in fact), and tax is free (Also exempt from congestion charge in London). Pre March 2001 cars fall into the £110 tax trap as do early Toyota Prius models. Make sure you buy a post March 2001 manual car if you can.



In search of ultimate mpg I found it was vital to run only the 165/65R14 low rolling resistance Oem Bridgestone tyres which had been created specially for the car. Non Oem tyres are an instant 5-10mpg mpg hit. They aren’t expensive at only £35.00 each, but need to be pumped up to a rock hard 50psi for ultimate economy.

Achieving good Economy in any vehicle is not rocket science, it’s simple physics we can all appreciate, slowing down is the biggest plus, and I drive now at 40-55mph. The Insight drag factor of 0.25cd, the lowest for any production car in the world helps, as does it’s light weight (850kg), LRR tyres and strange aerodynamic rear wheel covers. The high tec 1.0L 3 cylinder Vtec 67bhp engine is a work of art with con rods like matchsticks to reduce weight, and a 10kw permanent-magnet brushless DC 3 phase motor serving as the integrated flywheel.



The integrated motor assist or IMA electric motor assists the IC engine when the load is high during acceleration and hill climbing, normal cruising power is provided solely by the IC engine, deceleration or braking forces the motor into regeneration mode and the energy is captured in the 144v 120 D cell Nimh battery pack for the next period of high demand.



The electric motor does not drive the vehicle on it’s own at anytime. In fact the battery pack, made up of 120x6.5ah Panasonic Nimh D cells capable of 100A discharge, and 50A charge rates, only allows a usable capacity of 4ah for longer life, so even if a pure EV mode was available, range would be very limited, to perhaps a couple of miles at most. (Insight enthusiasts worldwide including myself are investigating additional battery capacity projects)



As my wife and I gained more experience with the cars our mpg settled down over our daily commutes to mid 90’s for me (13 mile commute) and high 80’s for her, (my wife only has a short 5 mile commute to the train station, sadly on a very bad road for cycling, and this is a problem as the car does not get warmed up during winter) The Insight burns so little fuel, there is not much spare heat in the engine to warm the interior on short journeys redface In fact both cars have most of the radiator blocked off giving a 10mpg improvement over standard (Another trick gleaned from users worldwide).



Another way to improve mpg has been to add a warm air intake to the cars, using the waste heat around the exhaust manifold. A higher temp at the air intake improves combustion efficiency at the expense of power, exactly what these cars are about, and the opposite of what a lot of people try to achieve by forcing cool air into the intake to increase charge density and power.



I have just installed (01/08/07) an additional computer giving full control over the integrated motor control system, this allows full electrical assist or regeneration on demand, overriding the conservative Honda settings. This extra subtle fingertip joystick control has improved mpg by about 10%, as assist can be used more aggressively to overcome hills without recourse to increased fuel consumption, this extra battery power used can then be replenished gently on more suitable terrain during the journey. The system is called MIMA (Manual integrated motor assist) full details can be obtained from Insight Guru and creator Mike Dabrowski’s website at www.99mpg.com.



In the future I plan to install a 2L thermos system to retain hot engine coolant between journeys, a straight lift from the Toyota Prius which uses the system on versions sold in some regions to improve economy. Basically after a journey hot coolant is pumped from the engine into the 3L thermos, when you start the vehicle the next day the hot coolant is pumped back into the engine before it starts, instant interior heat, increased efficiency and faster warm up time. I have the parts, just need to get time to fit it, I will be very interested to see what difference it makes to my wife’s five mile winter commute mpg figures.




What’s the car like to drive?
Well it can be driven in a spirited fashion making full use of the 10 second 0-60mph time and 115mph top speed. The car below is the Oaktec Insight CVT rally car, which uses the variable transmission variant as the manual gearbox ratios are not ideal.



It can be driven very conservatively like I do to achieve maximum mpg. Driven hard 2nd gear is good for 72mph at the 6200rpm rev limiter, and is the main overtaking gear, 3rd to 5th are all long legged fuel savers. You can drive it comfortably from 30 mph in 5th gear, and I rarely change gear once in top, the electric motor providing the additional torque to make this possible. The IC engine turns itself off below 20mph when approaching junctions with the clutch depressed or stopped to save a few more drops of precious fuel, and it automatically restarts using the IMA motor when you engage first gear to move off. The normal rear springs are quite weak, and the load carrying is limited to about 400lbs as standard with a lot of bottoming out when carrying two heavier than average 15st UK giants!



I swapped the rear springs for those from a scrapped Daewoo Matiz, these have the same free length as the Insight one's, but are thicker and about 30% higher rated. No problem with my rear end now! The car will under steer when pushed hard into corners, but no more than any other front wheel drive vehicle, and certainly much less than the Saab I used to own. The car has no toe in or out at the front (for economy) and steering on rutted or lined roads is entertaining until you get used to it :shock: as it wants to follow these imperfections. Parts and servicing are no more expensive than any other Honda, their reputation for reliability is second to none. There are no Non-Oem after market parts available due to the very limited production numbers, so every thing is genuine Honda and usually arrives the next day from my helpful local dealer. An oil filter and 2.5L of the sewing machine like 0W-20 synthetic oil every 9000 miles is about it, at a cost of around £35.00.

A great 100mb 15 minute Divx Avi video of the UK Honda Insight is available here

http://rapidshare.com/files/4019747/InsightVideoV2...

A couple of other useful links here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Insight

http://www.evo.co.uk/carreviews/evolongtermtests/1...

In conclusion I could never go back to “Normal” mpg ever again, I have been well and truly spoilt. The cars are fantastic low speed (45-60mph) long distance tourers, (I use my EV for local journeys). With my mpg now standing at over 109mpg for the last 300+ miles since my computer upgrade I'm very happy. smile However some American owners make even my impressive UK mpg figures seem feeble in comparison, as crusing at low speed unhindered on the flat central plains in high temps gives a few US "hypermilers" well over 100mpg per US gallon (3.78L) in daily use! Some even keep the fuel gauge pegged at it's maximum 150mpg for mile after mile :shock:



My cars lifetime fuel consumption is now 92.8mpg over 85,000 miles, and climbing slowly as my hypermiling techniques counteract the previous owners heavy right footed driving style. If you can make do with a lightweight, rust proof, two seater coupe, want to stand out from the crowd in a car that looks like it came from the Gerry Anderson props dept, and save lot's of money I can highly recommend them! If you want a ride in one, and are up in North Yorkshire drop me an e-mail, it would be my pleasure. Hat’s off to Honda for designing such a unique futuristic and impressive vehicle. Peter Perkins 13/08/07smile

AntiguaBill

321 posts

190 months

Friday 17th August 2007
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That was a really interesting read thanks, you are proper boffin tongue out

I cant believe they only sold 70 uk cars!! redface

The point about the gearbox with the top 3 gears being ultra long, is something that has baffled me about ALL cars since forever... why do they not have ultra long top gears anymore? i know when im driving about, by the time i have joined a fast moving road and accelerated quite comfortably in 3rd or 4th, there really is no need for 5th for continuing to accelerate, therefore if it was ultra tall (still within the engines torque capaibilities), for the lowest of low engine speed @70mph surely this would bring every car's cruising mpg up!

thinking aloud: I wonder how much the closed rear wheel covers reduce the drag, im sure its quite a bit, but it makes it look like a snail to me, and i do believe this has stopped people from being interested. although i guess it didnt stop citroen buyers years ago. you may have seen this photoshop but i think it is absolutely gorgeous, (although the wheels are bit silly big).

Im really looking forward to see what the replacement is gonna be like.








peterperkins

Original Poster:

2,778 posts

214 months

Friday 17th August 2007
quotequote all
AntiguaBill said:
That was a really interesting read thanks, you are proper boffin tongue out thinking aloud: I wonder how much the closed rear wheel covers reduce the drag, im sure its quite a bit, but it makes it look like a snail to me, and i do believe this has stopped people from being interested.
Info from US owners who have removed the rear wheel covers suggest a 3-5mpg hit when hypermiling. So they do make a difference. Sadly I think the photoshop one whilst interesting looks very odd and not to my taste, those wheels and tyres would def be a 20mpg hit eek

AntiguaBill

321 posts

190 months

Friday 17th August 2007
quotequote all
oh i completely agree about the huge wheels, but sticking with 14" or maaaybe 15" lightweight Volk CE28N's i think it would look fantastic.
personally i think 3-5mpg hit might be worth it to lose the snail look to my eyes, but i also recognise that would really be sacrilege too.

incidentally, how much do the insight wheels weigh, without tyres? and does the design of them also decrease drag?
eta... the volk ce28n in 14"x5.5"J weigh in at 2.95kg each, if that is lighter than the standard ones, perhaps it could save you some more petrol? but then youd have to offset the savings by the cost of the wheels (which would be a lot!) so it ends up being a bit pointless really tongue out

I still find it rediculous that pre march 01 cars have 110 quid tax... it seems like a bad move on honda's behalf to launch it just a few months before the change in tax. i find it hard to believe they were unaware of the governments plans to change the taxation on cars at the time. It would have made sense to back date the insight, seeing as it was and still is the only car to fit into tax band A.

Edited by AntiguaBill on Friday 17th August 11:13

peterperkins

Original Poster:

2,778 posts

214 months

Friday 17th August 2007
quotequote all
AntiguaBill said:
oh i completely agree about the huge wheels, but sticking with 14" or maaaybe 15" lightweight Volk CE28N's i think it would look fantastic.
personally i think 3-5mpg hit might be worth it to lose the snail look to my eyes, but i also recognise that would really be sacrilege too.

incidentally, how much do the insight wheels weigh, without tyres? and does the design of them also decrease drag?
eta... the volk ce28n in 14"x5.5"J weigh in at 2.95kg each, if that is lighter than the standard ones, perhaps it could save you some more petrol? but then youd have to offset the savings by the cost of the wheels (which would be a lot!) so it ends up being a bit pointless really tongue out

I still find it rediculous that pre march 01 cars have 110 quid tax... it seems like a bad move on honda's behalf to launch it just a few months before the change in tax. i find it hard to believe they were unaware of the governments plans to change the taxation on cars at the time. It would have made sense to back date the insight, seeing as it was and still is the only car to fit into tax band A.

Edited by AntiguaBill on Friday 17th August 11:13
Quite a bit of discussion re this on www.Insightcentral.net

http://www.insightcentral.net/forum/viewtopic.php?...

Stock rims weight about 5kg I believe. But not worth expense to change and not in keeping with car as the stock rims are aerodynamic to help mpg.

A Smart Diesel also fitted into band A 98gCo2/Km I think, not available now frown Same as poor old Insight.

peterperkins

Original Poster:

2,778 posts

214 months

Monday 1st October 2007
quotequote all
Update 30/09/07 seven weeks after MIMA computer upgrade and 2500+ miles driven, mpg now hovering at 101.6 smile an improvement of about 5% over my previous best on that sort of distance/time in regular day to day use. biggrin

Pushed daily mpg over the magic 100mpg mark which is very nice and a great talking point :wink: especially as fuel has just gone up another 2p per litre!

Colder weather is here and we will all suffer from the effects of this now taking an mpg hit frown I hope to maintain 95mpg+ for the winter ahead but even I (Mr Slowcoach) probably won't be able to keep it above 100mpg during the coldest months frown

Bibbs

3,716 posts

182 months

Monday 1st October 2007
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I'm a honda owner and have done exactly the opposite with my car. biggrin

Damn fine read though, I found it very interesting. I don't know why cars like this are not more popular. Should have one for the daily grind, and then something less frugal for the fun stuff.

I think Toyota have really done well with their Prius adverts to make people think a car is greener than it is.

Escy

3,147 posts

121 months

Saturday 12th October 2013
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Interesting read, I think it's worth a bump back up.

Conian

8,030 posts

173 months

Saturday 12th October 2013
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Deffo worth a bump.
I saw a US tv show about them, Honda seemed to be going to great lengths to buy them all back and get rid of them on the sly.
All a bit conspiracyish!

Escy

3,147 posts

121 months

Saturday 12th October 2013
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I wonder if it was to do with their 10 year warranty. Maybe they were costing them a fortune in replacement battery packs?

AmitG

2,739 posts

132 months

Sunday 13th October 2013
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I just saw this for the first time due to the bump. A superb read smile

I owned the Gen2 Insight, which was a more "normal" car than the Gen1. It was a less compromised package; it had 5 seats, decent boot space etc. and it was surprisingly good fun to chuck about due to the near-instant low-end torque. However, the fuel economy was nowhere near the Gen1, with 55mpg being typical and 60mpg being as good as it got without hypermiling etc.

It will be interesting to see Honda's next generation of hybrids. They know they are behind the curve, and have promised to take the lead again. I think that the new Accord and Jazz have both been released but not in the UK yet.

vtecyo

2,114 posts

101 months

Monday 14th October 2013
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Great read. Honda were so far ahead of the times when they first released these. I've only ever seen one on the road! Expensive though.

Seany88

1,242 posts

192 months

Monday 21st October 2013
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Can anyone direct me to the main things to look out for when buying one second-hand? I've always been a bit keen on electric vehicles as a way to clear my conscience on my other car but never had enough knowledge to commit to one!

Terminator X

11,580 posts

176 months

Monday 21st October 2013
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Someone get the OP back as I'd like to hear his comments about it 6 years on.

TX.

peterperkins

Original Poster:

2,778 posts

214 months

Monday 21st October 2013
quotequote all
Well things have moved on quite a bit in the last few years.

I sold the citrus car and bought a neglected 200,000 mile wreck, which has now been given a new lease of life, loads of mods inc a lithium battery, and it's up to 280,000 miles and approx 95mg in the last 80,000 miles since I have owned it.

I have reverse engineered a lot of the electronics and comms in the Insight G1 and the Civic HCH1 IMA, and have set myself up fixing IMA issues, offering performance enhancing mods and new batteries as a business.

www.thehybridexpert.co.uk

All the UK early IMA cars inc the Insight and Civic now need new batteries, the choice is limited and there are no long lasting cheap options. You can go to Honda for a lesser spec more expensive pack or come to me for a higher capacity cheaper one with a longer warranty wink A new pack although expensive should last another 10+ years, so if you really want one factor in the battery cost to any purchases. If the current owner can't provide documentary proof it's been changed then assume it hasn't.

It's a sellers market for the G1 Insight as they are rare and lots of people want one. Even with having to buy a new battery.

Things to look out for.

Bad Ima battery costs £2000
Bad Egr Valve (jerking at approx 2000 rpm) costs £200
Bad O2 sensor £250
Bad special 3 way Catalyst £1500
Bleeding lcd dash gauges cost a fortune for new parts. (Buy good secondhand one from USA)
Non tax free cars cost £100+ a year, so get a post March 2001 one if you can for a freebie.
Non OEM or cheapo tyres are a 5-10mpg hit. Get the lowest rolling resistance ones you can find in the correct size.
Rumbly, noisy manual or cvt gearboxes can indicate bearing problems.
Missing panels especially those underneath, they make a difference and are expensive.
Most spares are oem Honda only, but are in reasonable supply.
Manual cars get about 10mpg+ more than CVT ones, but the CVT is no slouch.

A couple of rolling road charts for my modified manual car. smile

http://www.solarvan.co.uk/mdm/RollingRoad2402111.j...
http://www.solarvan.co.uk/mdm/RollingRoad2402112.j...

Note the weird torque curve as all the grunt is provided by the electric motor at <2000 rpm.

My advice buy one while you can, a true engineering classic.
Rarer than 95% of the exotica/performance cars mentioned daily on this forum.
Plus you can actually afford to drive it long distances due to the as yet still class leading mpg.

Edited by peterperkins on Monday 21st October 13:37

Seany88

1,242 posts

192 months

Wednesday 23rd October 2013
quotequote all
peterperkins said:
Well things have moved on quite a bit in the last few years.

I sold the citrus car and bought a neglected 200,000 mile wreck, which has now been given a new lease of life, loads of mods inc a lithium battery, and it's up to 280,000 miles and approx 95mg in the last 80,000 miles since I have owned it.

I have reverse engineered a lot of the electronics and comms in the Insight G1 and the Civic HCH1 IMA, and have set myself up fixing IMA issues, offering performance enhancing mods and new batteries as a business.

www.thehybridexpert.co.uk

All the UK early IMA cars inc the Insight and Civic now need new batteries, the choice is limited and there are no long lasting cheap options. You can go to Honda for a lesser spec more expensive pack or come to me for a higher capacity cheaper one with a longer warranty wink A new pack although expensive should last another 10+ years, so if you really want one factor in the battery cost to any purchases. If the current owner can't provide documentary proof it's been changed then assume it hasn't.

It's a sellers market for the G1 Insight as they are rare and lots of people want one. Even with having to buy a new battery.

Things to look out for.

Bad Ima battery costs £2000
Bad Egr Valve (jerking at approx 2000 rpm) costs £200
Bad O2 sensor £250
Bad special 3 way Catalyst £1500
Bleeding lcd dash gauges cost a fortune for new parts. (Buy good secondhand one from USA)
Non tax free cars cost £100+ a year, so get a post March 2001 one if you can for a freebie.
Non OEM or cheapo tyres are a 5-10mpg hit. Get the lowest rolling resistance ones you can find in the correct size.
Rumbly, noisy manual or cvt gearboxes can indicate bearing problems.
Missing panels especially those underneath, they make a difference and are expensive.
Most spares are oem Honda only, but are in reasonable supply.
Manual cars get about 10mpg+ more than CVT ones, but the CVT is no slouch.

A couple of rolling road charts for my modified manual car. smile

http://www.solarvan.co.uk/mdm/RollingRoad2402111.j...
http://www.solarvan.co.uk/mdm/RollingRoad2402112.j...

Note the weird torque curve as all the grunt is provided by the electric motor at <2000 rpm.

My advice buy one while you can, a true engineering classic.
Rarer than 95% of the exotica/performance cars mentioned daily on this forum.
Plus you can actually afford to drive it long distances due to the as yet still class leading mpg.

Edited by peterperkins on Monday 21st October 13:37
I'm sold! So question is, how do I find a good one? I had a look at your website, do you/would you consider sourcing and selling them?

peterperkins

Original Poster:

2,778 posts

214 months

Wednesday 23rd October 2013
quotequote all
Quite a few on e-bay/autotrader at the minute. Take your pick.

No i'm not and never will be a car dealer.
You buy one and I will help you get the best out of it wink

peterperkins

Original Poster:

2,778 posts

214 months

Tuesday 5th November 2013
quotequote all
Just built and installed my latest G1 Insight gizmo. IMA Boost/Kers button smile

http://www.insightcentral.net/forums/modifications...

http://www.insightcentral.net/forums/modifications...



Quite a nice red low mileage CVT import on AT at the moment along with a couple of others.


Seany88

1,242 posts

192 months

Wednesday 4th December 2013
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I missed the ebay ones and now there's only 1 that's had a replacement battery but for £5k! Think I'll have to wait until after winter now, can't imagine its that easy to drive in snow due to its (lack of) weight and low resistance tyres?

JonnyVTEC

2,308 posts

147 months

Thursday 5th December 2013
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They are awesome in the snow, lots of easy to modulate torque at low rpm and skinny tyres do find the road through the snow. Proper mountain goat.