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tscheerer 10-11-2009 11:31 PM

Electric Insight project
I'm about to embark on a project to build an Insight EV. Have agreed to purchase a gutted Insight shell, and hope to purchase an EV system in the next few days. If there is interest, will document the build in words and pictures. If anyone knows of others who have gone down this path, please refer me to them so that I may learn from their experiences.

Frank Lee 10-12-2009 01:41 AM

Insight should be a great starting point!

Daox 10-12-2009 08:29 AM

Sounds great, definitely keep us updated.

srortega 10-12-2009 11:54 AM

Take lots of pictures allong the way...

gc-steve 10-13-2009 09:30 AM


Originally Posted by Frank Lee (Post 133343)
Insight should be a great starting point!



Mesuge 10-13-2009 10:54 AM

There have been number of hacks to stock Insight, mostly in relation to its hybrid drivetrain, however this effort produced number of gurus and usefull "insights" into the electronics etc. In terms of full EV conversions there might be a couple of them, the best bet is Otmar, invertor/founder of Zilla/Cafe, he is prototyping 3phase controller on this very car.

Insight - Start here with EV Album Search

Insight forums:
PHEV Insight - Insight Central: Honda Insight Forum
(Peter has got other valuable threads around the internets, BVS etc.)

"Peter Perkins" Insight PHEV guru and formely of "Solarvan fame":

Tri-Zilla Insight:
Cafe Electric llc
Insight Conversion

PS consider yourself one lucky chap as LHD Insights are unobtanium in the rest of the world as they don't have proper legal papers to be imported from U.S. anyway, grr..
(and the rest of them in RHDs have been already bought all by Peter, hah)

tscheerer 11-15-2009 10:41 PM

Finally picked up the Insight this weekend. It's definately going to need a lot of work as it's basically a rolling chassis made from parts of two cars. Will get some pics up soon to show the starting point. Next planned step is to do a thorough inspection of the car to see what all I can find.

bennelson 11-20-2009 10:02 PM

Some of the guys at the FVEAA in the Chicago, Illinois area are talking about converting an Insight into a high performance REAR-WHEEL drive EV.

You might want to try to get in contact with them to pick their brains.

I think it was specifically one of the guys at Pioneer Conversions who was talking about it.

tscheerer 11-27-2009 10:58 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Here are some pics of the Insight as a beginning point for the project.
The front end is from another car, obviously, and like most of the car needs a lot of work. I will be getting a 8" ADC motor - Dual shaft (203-06-4001A), Curtis 400a controller, adapter and mid 90's GM manual trans as the driveline. One of the fun challenges will be mating the cv shafts from the GM trans to the hubs on the car. For power, the initial plan is to go with 72v and see how that does, can go up to 120v if space and weight allows. More to come...

SVOboy 11-27-2009 11:26 AM

Looks like a start! Did you happen to get this from a guy named Brent?

MetroMPG 11-27-2009 01:13 PM

My 2 cents... (Don't take this as discouragement!)

I understand choosing an Insight for its light weight (1850 lbs) and aero efficiency (Cd .25, small frontal area).

Seeing how much fabrication you're in for, I think I might have opted to get a 95+ Metro and chop/taper the roof, like Dave Cloud did to make his EV dragster:

(See thread: )

The end result is also a lot of fabrication, comparable weight, frontal area and drag coefficient (with some additional massaging). But all the other car's parts are easier / cheaper to get.

I'm still happy to see an Insight going the EV route! Looking forward to your project.

tscheerer 11-27-2009 09:44 PM

Thanks for the comments! Yes, this did come from Brent, it seems he is the king of Insight parts. On the chopped Metro, that looks cool. My experience is in mechanical work, so I'm up for that, however body work is not my bag. The only significant exterior issue should be the headlights. Since the OEM ones are high, the plan is to retrofit from another car. This should give it a more unique look too. Also have access to professional chassis builders for any fab work I can't handle, which will surely be needed. The initial plan is to fab mounts off the OEM mounts for the motor/trans, then splice together the CV shafts with chrome moly tubing. Once the drive train is in, the rest will follow. If the car is about at the 1800 lb curb weight with 400 lb of batteries, then it's all good.

discovery 11-28-2009 06:50 AM

What you got i think weights about 800 lb. Good luck with the project take pic we all are very interesting in pics, it's all about seening, understanding and believing.

tscheerer 12-08-2009 09:26 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Now have the major components of the EV drive train, as shown in pics. The motor is an Advanced 8" 4001a, including the adapter and mid 90's GM manual trans. The controller is a Curtis 1221c at 400a, which hopefully will be enough to drive the Insight at around 2k lbs. The current issue is getting the title in my name. Missouri requires an inspection and changing over the title in 30 days or penalty of $25/30 days late. The car is not ready for an inspection and won't be for a while given the current state it's in. If anyone has been through this and has tips or workarounds, I'm all ears.

bennelson 12-08-2009 09:58 PM

A Curtis controller running 72V was great my my Electro-Metro, which is around 2000 lbs. I have been very happy with the Curtis controllers. You shouldn't have any trouble there.

MetroMPG 12-09-2009 07:59 PM

What are your performance/range goals or needs?

Other than stating that you were starting at 72v and maybe going up from there, I'm curious to know what you're working towards.

tscheerer 12-09-2009 11:17 PM

Well, this is my first EV build after many years of working on and building ICE cars and race cars. It started as a father/daughter project to build a unique car for her. My minimum goals are to prove that I can do it and that the car be capable of transporting her to and from school daily, which is about a mile each way. Once it's on the road, I plan to work on mileage, no desire for performance as I get that from ICE vehicles. My daily commute is about 22 miles round trip, and I don't expect it to make that in it's first form. Ideally, the plan would be to upgrade from lead to a better power source in a few years as batteries mature and maybe then make it my daily driver.

rmay635703 12-10-2009 05:13 PM


Originally Posted by tscheerer (Post 145926)
Now have the major components of the EV drive train, as shown in pics. The motor is an Advanced 8" 4001a, including the adapter and mid 90's GM manual trans. The controller is a Curtis 1221c at 400a, which hopefully will be enough to drive the Insight at around 2k lbs. The current issue is getting the title in my name. Missouri requires an inspection and changing over the title in 30 days or penalty of $25/30 days late. The car is not ready for an inspection and won't be for a while given the current state it's in. If anyone has been through this and has tips or workarounds, I'm all ears.

In my dealings with the wisconsin DMV (which is totally different) My recommendations are as follows

The best source of information is unfortunately the DMV unless you can find someone who built a "hobbyist" car in your state.

If you do ask the DMV questions, ask at a NON-local, DMV, remain annoyinmous and ask how your situation would be handled hypothetically, don't mention the electric bit, just ask what happens if you buy a car that needs the motor replaced and drivetrain and is going to take longer than 30 days to source before it will be road ready.

They should be able to state how that is handled hypothetically.

MetroMPG 12-10-2009 11:27 PM

Well, you should have no trouble with those goals.

I was just curious. Seems like a lot of 1st time builders have expectations out of line with (a) reality, or (b) their budget (often one in the same!).

tscheerer 12-16-2009 10:07 PM

Got the title done yesterday, but not without a few hitches. After studying on the MO state website on titles, figured out there is a title only transaction that can be done. The form provided on the website says that inspection, insurance and property tax receipts are not required for this transaction. So off to the licensing office when it opens at 8a. After looking the paperwork over, the lady says since the original title is out of state, I need an ID/OD by an inspection station to verify the VIN number on the title matches the car. So I stop by the local station and make an appointment for the afternoon. Get there with the car on a trailer since it's not functional, and the inspection guy says he needs to get the mileage. Something about the book saying on rebuild cars the mileage has to be verified on the ID/OD. Even though the car isn't wrecked and has a clear PA title, if he can't get the mileage, I can't get the ID/OD. The car has the original computer per the seller, but part of the wiring is gone and it's disconnected. I haven't put power to the car since I've had it, so no idea if it's going to work. I get the computer connected to the one cable that's there and get a battery to connect to the battery cables. Turn the key and .... hooray, it works! So the guy gets the mileage and I get the ID/OD. Then the car has to be put away and it's back to the license bureau. At this point I'm thinking what the next hurdle will be. Thankfully it's all smooth from here and no issue completing the title only transaction, finally done at 4p. Now in a couple weeks I should have the title in my name and the building can continue!

tscheerer 12-04-2010 03:26 PM

It's been quite a while and no updates. The conversion has been on hold due to other projects and priorities, however have done the following.
1. reconstruction on the core support to mount the hood latch
2. bought a hood release cable and installed it
3. bought and installed mirrors on both doors

Plan to start the EV conversion in the next month or so with goal of having it running by summer.

MetroMPG 12-09-2010 04:58 PM

Wow, that's a long time between updates.

But glad to hear the project is still alive.

RobertSmalls 12-09-2010 10:06 PM

Can you elaborate on what's going to connect the motor to the wheels, in terms of tranny and CV shafts? I'm also very curious as to where you're placing your battery boxes.

tscheerer 03-25-2011 05:26 PM

6 Attachment(s)
Here's another periodic update on my Insight EV project. Have removed the fuel tank assembly and have some pics showing the components. While doing this, noticed that where the tank was is a perfect spot to mount a battery box. It would be low, in the center of the car, and below the raised area of the floor behind the seats. Due to the hump there, the batteries would likely not hang lower than the fuel tank did, so they would be tucked up under the car nicely. Bought a 72v/20a charger and went to Batteries Plus to look at their 105ah deep cycle batteries. I'm leaning towards 6 12v 105ah batteries for the initial power supply, the pack weight should be about 400lbs. Plan on a 12v battery similar to OEM in the engine compartment for the accessories & lights with an alternator running off the electric motor secondary output shaft. The motor will mate to a GM manual trans. Mounting the driveline and adapting half shafts from the GM pattern to the Insight pattern should be the major hurdles going forward.

bennelson 03-25-2011 07:41 PM

What did you decide on for the charger?
My car has mostly been running 72V, but my charger died a while ago.

Do you have a make/model/price to share with us?

tscheerer 03-25-2011 11:23 PM

The charger is a Quick Charge OBET 72v/20a unit (pic in prior post), which I bought used off EV Tradin Post: Electric Vehicle Classifieds. There are several places that sell similar units online, and the site just mentioned is a great place to look for EV parts.

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