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Old 06-17-2017, 12:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow Feasability of an Electric Insight

I'm thinking that in about 2 months I will have my new Insight at like 90% regarding ecomods and stuff done to it, so I'll need a new project to work on.

If I get like a beater Insight that's in terrible shape maybe even a blown head or bent valves or something, would it be possible to turn it into an EV?

I could source parts from a forklift, but the thing I am most afraid of is sorting out the drivetrain. Supposing I pull the ICE, the original electric motor is way too small, I'll have to replace it too with a forklift motor. Is it feasible to leave the original manual transmisssion in, take off the IMA and ICE, fabricate a face plate to cover the transmission, construct mounts for a new motor, then have the new motor drive the input shaft?

Batteries could be stored in the trunk in the spare wheel well or above the spare wheel, and in the IMA battery compartment since the IMA battery would be removed. I could probably use the stock high voltage lines between the front and back of the car.

There'd also be the issue of instrumentation. There's a guy over on Insight Central developing a board that you can plug into the factory instrument cluster, it could be used to display battery voltage at least, and since I'd potentially be keeping the original VSS on the transmission the speed should show properly. In this car the VSS has a direct line to the instrument cluster. Or might just be easier to skip all that at first and mount the forklift's (usually incredibly simple) gauges or whatever (depends on the model) inside the car somewhere.

Regenerative braking might not be an option, so I might have to beef up the original brakes for safety. Or just drive slow lol.

I think the main advantages of using one of these cars for an EV conversion are they're very cheap, light, and aerodynamic. Homemade EVs usually have poor range, and I wouldn't be able to use it for much if I couldn't do atleast 50 miles in it. But maybe I could sell it to someone else who lived in town and didn't need to drive as much if I just couldn't get the range out if it that I needed.

Has anyone else converted one of these before? And am I in way over my head if I do this?

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Old 06-17-2017, 12:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't see the insight being any harder to do it to than any other vehicle. And at least you have space for batteries. So how are your fabrication skills and patience? Do you have the tools to do the job? And have you taken in to consideration the costs involved?
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Old 06-17-2017, 04:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The only thing I can see going electric on an insite would be:
Is the there enough room for batteries, assuming you want to have more than the battery it comes with?
Can the body support the weigh of the additional batteries?
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Old 06-17-2017, 06:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Insight is an easy conversion.

There are about 5 of them around, (one was junked in Madison)

The best was an early lithium powered rig down south

Claimed 144wthr per mile at highway speeds.

He only posted on obscure old "lists" like EVDL

I've wanted to quote him several times but have trouble finding his posts.

I would recommend a $900 Chevy Volt or Caddy Elr battery with a homebuilt ac controller and a Nissan Leaf AC motor.
Use Scotts upgraded springs and it should be drop in easy.
The insights original DCDC WORKS great with lithium at 144 volts

Stock volt charger is easy to re use as is the BMS if you keep everything at the original voltage.

There is also the insight body on a Nissan Leaf but that seems like too much work.
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Old 06-18-2017, 05:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Def steer away from incredibly heavy old forklift stuff.

Get a nice new AC EV motor or leaf etc and go for it.
Rmay's ideas seem sensible.

Get a scrap leaf and use all the parts inc the battery..
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Old 06-18-2017, 10:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Would you really want a manual transmission in an electric car when one of the main advantages of electric drive is the ability to eliminate the weight and friction inherent to a conventional gearbox?
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Old 06-18-2017, 03:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with everyone.

Here's my Lexus 3rd member mocked up in the engine bay of a VW Beetle.

It weighs 98lb and has 68hp (according to Wikipedia the gas 1.0l engine is also 68hp). I understand that the similar unit in the new Toyota RAV4 has 115hp, with twin motors and an electric differential. That would be the one to have.

The weight savings over the gas engine go to batteries with newer alchemy.

The problem with running an electric through a transmission is that the shock load applying full torque is measured in milliseconds instead of microseconds. Shredded clutches, & blown automatics as far as the eye can see. The single-speed drivetrain has 100% torque at zero RPM, OTOH it need double the horsepower rating of a gas engine and big fat wires so they don't melt.

Get the RAV4 unit, or maybe the less evolved Leaf (IDK about them).

Edit: Are you watching back episodes of EVTV? They have a store full of useful widgets, and years of explaining the ins 'n outs.

Last edited by freebeard; 06-18-2017 at 03:37 PM..
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Old 06-18-2017, 03:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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could you make the controller "softer" with an electric?

i mean, like cut off torque peaks?
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Old 06-18-2017, 05:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Stubby79 View Post
And have you taken in to consideration the costs involved?
100% this.

The amount of time and money it'll take to do it, it won't even be close to feasible.
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Old 06-19-2017, 04:43 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Fingie View Post
could you make the controller "softer" with an electric?

i mean, like cut off torque peaks?
It's possible to get a milder tune and eventually make the torque input feel more linear like we're used to have in conventional cars, but that still would probably not make it more advantageous to have a gearbox in an electric car.

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