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Old 03-18-2009, 11:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Project: Rebuilding an '01 Honda Insight as a nonhybrid

(if you want to read more about my new project scroll to the bottom of the post; I highlight its purpose first in the body of the post below)

Okay guys; I've decided to start an ambitious project to take a scrapped Honda Insight and restore it back to life. The project car does have a working battery pack, but it does not have a front clip, engine or transmission. It is also missing a good deal of glass and has some of the other minimal effects of damage that you would expect to see from rolling a rigid, lightweight aluminum car. It therefore will need a new engine for starters. The plan is to rebuild it using a nonhybrid drive train; in other words, I want to install in the car a straight up, cheap, gasoline engine that will maximize mileage.

However the project has a higher purpose and it is directed towards those of us that are Americans. If you're Canadian, this may pertain to you as well because your overall market standards for fuel economy are only second to ours in terms of disappointment and corruption. If you're not living in either of these two countries, then chances are you live in a place where you don't have to break a large array of laws and sell your left nut to obtain a fuel efficient vehicle off the lot of the local car dealer. We Americans are thus envious of you, and at least one, me, has decided to start a project to prove that we are entitled to fuel efficient cars as well.

Sadly though, it seems that some of us Americans, even those that are fuel economy enthusiasts, don't seem to be satisfyingly frustrated with the fact that the most fuel efficient car we can buy is a 22k 40-some mpg hybrid. And you know what? We should be pissed off as hell; and the fact that we're not clearly means we don't quite understand the situation. Therefore I decided to make a project to prove the general point that we simply are not living up to the standards that need to be met.

So here's the purpose of the project:
I can say for sure that the auto companies are trying to brain wash the domestic market into believing that there is a legit reason for why we don't have a single fuel efficient car on the road today. I proved this to myself pretty solidly by interviewing reps from each of the major car companies at this year's Detroit Auto Show. Each company rep had a different reason for their company's inability to satisfy their consumer's demands and each lie was told passionately and thoroughly. One Smart For Two Rep even tried to convince me, and the rather large crowd my antics had attracted, that the nine 50 + mpg Geo Metros I’ve owned over the past year all actually got under 35 MPG.


THIS IS BULL****.

I am going to have to declare that listening to EPA, the auto industry, and who knows what other corporate entities responsible for wreaking havoc on our lives is not right!! We need to let our opinions be known—this insanity that’s been spewed as of late—has got to be recognized and stopped. We all really want fuel economy from our cars, and we all know it can be done. So why are we sitting here and listening to the people that take our money that there’s some excuse for why this can’t be done?


Well anyways here’s just some of the little details that have been plaguing our situation that really need to be brought to our attention—as they most certainly have been in the past. Yet, it seem like you guys aren’t getting as infuriated over them as I am. I mean don’t you guys remember all this insane bull**** that has presented itself over the past 15 years? Well I’m going to remind you of all these problems:


First problem—paid media attention by XXX companies and XXX sponsored agencies have been telling us nonstop that somehow the cars that we had in the past are now somehow no longer good enough for us. That now, somehow a car without air conditioning, 30+ airbags, some weird traction control ****, and 50 crumble zones are features that we absolutely need to allow us to drive to the local gas station so we can fuel our gas guzzling hogs…. I mean maybe my brain isn’t developed enough to sense fear of death or whatever they say about military age boys that makes them unsuitable matches for alcohol yet excellent soldiers, but I have to say these safety standards have gotten insane. I mean unless I’m missing something big and every guy named Joe actually has a secret hobby of utilizing their past time to drive over subcompacts with his 10 cylinder gasoline powered Ford Excursion. I honestly would like the freedom to legally buy a mass produced car that weighs less than 3000 lbs. I mean 99% of the time it would only be utilized to transport my 170 body around anyways… so why is everyone trying to convince us that we NEED to 3000 pounds to transport ourselves from A to B. Who’s coming up with this insane logic?


Second problem—We know how fuel efficient our cars were in the past. Or at least we used to. XXX sources now are telling us those cars largely didn’t exist. They have gone as far as to modify the fuel economy rankings to down adjust all past car ratings by %15. That sure makes the hybrids of today that cost 20+k minimum and get 40 mpg sound good doesn’t it? But wait; my Geo Metro XFi really does get 50+ mpg even if I beat the hell out of it; yet the new ratings for the Prius say that you should get 48 highway under similar conditions. Having driven a Prius I can say that getting 48 mpg out of a Prius seems no more realistic than getting the initial rating (58 mpg highway)from my Geo Metro XFi. I mean I do typically get 60+ mpg out of my Metro XFi anyways. And let’s not even mention the MSRP on that thing was $6999… And let’s not even begin to bring up the point with the base Metro that achieved 49 mpg hwy and weren’t even designed for fuel economy. In the past not one of my cars failed to live up reasonably to the ’86 to ’07 ratings, yet the new cars introduced prior to ’08 seem model their ratings similarly as cars did in the past. It seems like the only cars that didn’t get their ratings prior to ’08 were three hybrids—and only one in particular seemed far off. So what did they do? Some idiot sat down in a chair and said, oh… we haven’t been making any progress in fuel economy, yet we can make people think we did by modifying the old fuel economy ratings to make old cars seem less fuel efficient, and by default new cars more appealing!!
WE CAN’T LET STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPEN PEOPLE!!! I mean ever heard of the book 1984? Erasing the past is BAD. You can’t gauge PROGRESS if you don’t have a reference point, and you most certainly can’t make PROGRESS if you don’t know what that point is.


Third problem—Look outside of the USA and Canada. We have the lowest industry fuel economy by far. Ford, Toyota, Honda, GM, etc, all make great cars overseas that get 50+ mpg, yet the ones here barely break 30 mpg. In fact some of the cars that get 50+ mpg overseas are sold here as well, yet mysteriously they get substantially less mpg here… They just can’t bring over their underpowered 90 hp engines powering their Aveo’s and Yaris’ here to give us our 50+ mpg; apparently they say their isn’t a market for that…


Fourth problem—Ah the diesel scam.. Hi, I’m BIG OIL, let’s conspire to keep the USA from reintroducing diesel to its consumers; we all know diesel is a more practical economical fuel, yet if it gets big in our favorite market their fuel consumption will drop like a rock since they would suddenly be getting 30% more miles outta each gallon of fuel we sell them. Hmmm…. How to do that?? (okay this is an oversimplification, this never was the sole fault of oil companies, but I’ll continue like it was because they suck for other reasons ^^) So BIG OIL says, I know! We’ll lower production of crude oil as refined to diesel fuel (who cares if drive all shipping companies out of business?) and that way the price of diesel will be artificially high, discourging both consumers and auto companies from taking advantage of diesel fuel because then they won’t be able to afford it. Let’s face it, we make the most money by selling them the fuel that they car get the least possible energy from. So let’s make sure that happens, at least as long as we have control over the market. (Notice how once that control was lost the price of diesel readjusted itself?)


Fifth problem—More on the diesel scam. So today I can go out and buy a diesel Hummer (or maybe some other diesel tank… I can’t recall if they even bother to still sell this, I know they still make diesel trucks that weigh in under 8500 lbs, but the EPA’s website seems to deny their existence, I’ll look into and revise this later; but for now, I like the sound of Hummer—everyone seems to associate them with ridiculous waste anyways..). Well anyways this diesel Hummer gets 8 mpg, yet I can go plate it in California, New York, that other unnamed state, and obviously the rest of the states. Yet can I buy a small diesel car? No! Why? The EPA says somehow small diesel cars pollute too much.... but then how do the large gas guzzling diesel SUV’s and what not get by? Simple; the EPA just says we’ll measure emissions by emissions per gallon. So that way a small diesel that gets 50 mpg will now only be allowed to put out 20% of the emission per mile as one that got 10 mpg. I wonder which vehicle causes more harm to the environment, some 50 mpg diesel that puts out twice the emissions per gallon as your average car, or some tank that gets 10 mpg, yet meets standards? This is one hell of a loophole, let me tell you whoever is responsible for this deserves an award, because it just gave all the guys at the Detroit Auto show the number one excuse for why we should be proud that our new cars can give us 30 mpg.


Sixth problem—Okay, America says we have higher standards for pollution than other countries, so why do we still have more polluted cities, when our roads are actually less filled with traffic? It couldn’t have something to do with the fact that the auto market in these other countries actually lets consumers buy a car they can afford to fuel up, could it?


Seventh problem—Okay there’s a long, long list other reasons why this insanity concerning domestic fuel economy must stop, but let’s hit one other point: Hybrids. Who the freaking hell came up with the idea that two engines powering a car will somehow use less fuel? I mean you have to power two engines off the same gas… How stupid is this? Well it’s not that stupid, but the way it’s been applied it’s absolutely insanity. The majority of the hybrids sold here, damnit, or not only not light weight vehicles, I mean most are SUV’s, but all of them only offer marginal (+3 mpg sound good to you?) improvements in mileage for maybe 5k extra. Is this what we want people? Take the Honda Civic Hx (’96 – ’03 I think?) for example, real world economy was in the low 40’s. They replace it with the Honda Civic hybrid that gets also, about 40 mpg, yet it costs about 10k more. What in the hell was the point of that? And let’s not forget the car that came before the Civic Hx. The Civic VX, now that was a car… 50+ mpg highway was as easy as it ever came in this country… ah that was one good car, only like 12k new too.


So now we sit and wait for the release of the new mass produced hybrid—the Gen II Honda Insight—this will get us low 40’s. But what does Honda have to do before they sell it? They have to discredit the car’s previous generation of course! I mean they can’t let people know that their previous Honda Insight actually got 70 mpg highway, but 2006 wasn’t too long ago, so the best thing they can do is say that the car was impractical, unreliable, unsophisticated, and a poor seller, while the new thing will be none of these, but all of practicality thus making it a reasonable achievement for Honda to give us Americans another lame-o-mobile that gets 10 extra mpg for an extra 10 grand…

Anyways I really hope you guys got something out of what I had to say. But I mean let’s face it… This is the way things are now at this forum:

Some damn N00b will show up, kinda like me, just more normal, and be all like:

"Am I supposed to be excited about a car that get's 40 mpg? I mean my XXXX ecobox from the 70's/80's/90's got that and then some; plus it cost like 7k sticker. Since technology is advancing, why aren't our cars getting more fuel efficient?"

And then some dip**** will come out of the corner and say: "Well Jimmy, well have made progress." You see the car's that you had in the 70's/80's/90's, and maybe even that one 100+mpg car with wooden floorboards that your Great-Great-Grandpa drove for 78 years had better fuel economy, but I mean let's face it…. It had wooden floor boards. Who wants those? And those 90's Geo's? **** they had sticky EGR valves and rusted out unibodies. They only had something in the neighborhood of 50 hp and were so slow that you couldn't even merge into traffic w/ them. Plus anyways they were Geo's, who wants a Geo? I mean doesn't Geo = ****? That and the EPA says that they only got 32 MPG combined (Citing the automatic w/ revised EPA standards). But now look, we have beautiful cars made of plastic and steel that have the weight and luxury to safely transport you from A to B; they all can go 0 - 60 in under 10 seconds and you will never be without automatic windows again. ^^ This is why $10,000 cars are a thing of the past and why we can no longer have them. They kill our nations youth.

And anyways, Honda Civic VX, Chevrolet Sprint, man those POS's didn't even have a passenger side mirror. I mean WTFOMGIAMGOINGTODIEW/OMYPASSENGERSIDEMIRRORONO!!

Dude guys, stop that crap. We are ECOMODDERS! We, if anyone else, should be able to smell out the bull**** and be able to let the media know about the crimes being committed to us. We have a responsibility to do this. When are we going to take hold? When the basic entry level car costs $40K and comes mandated with electronic collision controls that magically avoid all collisions before they happen (yet unsurprising don’t live up to their claims)?
Really; I mean you guys live and breathe fuel economy yet somehow you have failed to show the emotion, the passion, the demand, and the anger over the state of current domestic market.

In fact, I haven't even been seeing too many bad ass projects lately. So I’ve decided to start my own. Maybe I’ll be able to use it to motivate up the passion in places like this forum to start the revolution that needs to be started.

So here’s the Project:

Not long ago I randomly stumbled upon a 2001 Honda Insight on eBay that had less than 2 minutes 'til the end of auction. It was priced at around ~$400 so I decided I'd make a bid for the car. I then idled my 90 seconds away until I could claim victory for my new Honda Insight. I paid $500.

Okay, so now I'm the proud owner of a $500 Honda insight.

I've been waiting like three years for the opportunity for a Honda Insight shell (it came with a working battery pack as well) and now I have one. I also happen to have the opportunity to buy a second Honda insight for only $1800 that has 240,000 miles and likely has a limited lifespan on its original battery pack. So my plan is to buy that and simultaneously build up both cars on a very limited, restricted, and documented budget and prove that one car, my $500 car, gets better mileage. The $500 Honda Insight will be powered with an all gas engine that puts out at least 70 HP at the crank. I have not yet determined what that engine will be, but remember, it has to be cheap.


So the first step of the project for now is to get this $500 Honda Insight back on the road with a simplistic, cheap drive train and make it more fuel efficient and at least as powerful than it was when it rolled of the lot back in 2001.

My first thought was the Honda Civic VX engine. If it made 50+ mpg on the highway w/ a car half as aerodynamic and 400 pounds heavier than what my insight will be, then I’m guess it would be a good staring point for the project.

Anyone have any suggestions? We need to get this thing rolling. I should inform you guys that emissions and inspections will never be an issue for this car as in my backwater area, we still have no mandated inspections of any type, ever. Plus this car has a clear title so there are no legal issues to be presented with that either.


Also I’m thinking about donating it to a state university so I can have a team of people working on it, to actually make a car that makes a statement to the media. If anyone knows how I can convince my university to assist in this sort of project, let me know. I would definitely keep you guys up to date if I managed to secure a link between my University and this project.



Oh and if anyone has serious passion for fuel economy and wants the change that I want, then I’ll have no problem giving them the battery pack that I just obtained if I decide not to use it for this second Honda Insight that I was thinking about getting.

Pictures are attached.

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Last edited by Fabio; 03-20-2009 at 05:33 AM.. Reason: Clarity
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Old 03-18-2009, 12:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Fabio,

Welcome to EM!

Could you please clean up your post so it focuses on your project?

Thank you
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Old 03-18-2009, 01:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You seriously got one Insight for $500, and another for $1800? And these were driveable cars, not wrecks? Where?
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Old 03-18-2009, 02:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hey guys. I will work on clearing up my post. I just absolutely wanted to get the reason for my project out there so people understood why I wanted to start this project. The actual idea behind the project--that is proving that the Honda Insight is more fuel efficient with past technology than with the hybrid drive train and what not, it what is most important to me. In other words I want to temporarily bring back the perspective that using two engines to make a car more fuel efficient is not the most practical idea in the world. Sure it's a good idea--but it shouldn't be our only option here in America for fuel efficient cars. Then again the hybrids we have today aren't fuel efficient anyways, and sadly the future does not look much brighter.

And remember guys; my $500 insight is a rolling, moving chassis. It has no drive train as of now, and like I said I want a nonhybrid drivetrain. And that's where you guys come in. Give me some ideas.

The $1800 Honda Insight is another one I am thinking about buying, but I likely will not be able to get the money to get it before someone else does. I mean it does run and drive and while it has front end damage, it basically amounts to only cosmetics with the addition of a bumper and some headlights.
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Old 03-18-2009, 02:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you are looking to use a different engine/transmission, then be prepared for fabrication of all mounts, since the insight's mounts are totally different. I would love to see the d15z1 in the insight, but the fabrications needed may be a bit much. It will also be a tight squeeze to fit just about any 1.5l 4 banger in the bay of an insight.
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Old 03-18-2009, 02:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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wow, that was a long read, but i get what you are saying. when my '84 bronco 2 was fairly stock, it got a little over 30 mpg. and thats a carbureted, 4x4, 4000 lb steel truck with the aerodynamics of a refrigerator. my newer, 2wd, 2001 ford explorer sport (which is basically the grandson of the bronco 2) bounces around 20. what the hell, right?

welcome, and good luck with your project!
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Old 03-18-2009, 02:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Fabio: I second the request to clean up your original post. Tone it down and just focus on the project, please!

We're less concerned about "why" than "what" and "how".

Thanks.
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabio View Post
...WTFOMGIAMGOINGTODIEW/OMYPASSENGERSIDEMIRRORONO!!...
LOL, I hear ya man
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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If you want some ideas for efficient drivetrains, look here: Kinetic Vehicles

That said, I don't think you will find a much more efficient drivetrain than what's in the Insight now. Mine does get a real-world 70 mpg, and that's driving up & down the mountains, and heading out on the occasional Nevada dirt road...

And I'd still be interested in that $1800 Insight, just for spare parts, or as a donor for a Locost...
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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well it took a half hour, but i'm at the bottom of the thread... I'd say that I'm just as concerned with WHY. Sure, the dude's offensive in tone, but he's just showing his passion for what he's doing. Good on ya...

As for the "lack of mods lately"... have look at the fossil fuel free zone... This community is putting together an open source EV controll and an open source EV charger. These are a big deal!

Why not try to import one of those little deisel engines?
What is your estimated finished built weight? From memory, the insight is 1800lbs WITH a battery pack, electric motor and heavy cabling. Could you get it down to 1500 with an aluminum engine?

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