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Old 03-29-2013, 03:45 PM   #61
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When will 949 and TSE make the first electric flywheel engine for the Miata, to add some KERS punch out of the corners? Of course combined with Wilwood brake energy generators...

I was planning on making a sticker for my CaddyII 1.9D, "Higher MPG than a Prius, with 80's technology"
OK, it's only 47mpg at best, but I seldom do city driving (where the hybrid concept makes sense). The 63bhp makes it really easy to overtake, eh some
It's pretty environmental in general, mother earth is reclaiming it contiguously.

Chargebrids will probably come next, with electrified highways (battery and/or combustion in-between). Has been used for city buses more than 60 years ago...
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:48 PM   #62
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I actually liked the insight. One that i really like is the cr-z.

I'm in love with that front end.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:14 PM   #63
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Given that the Insight had an extremely simple, conventional drivetrain, coupled to one of the smallest, lowest-capacity motor/battery systems in the history of hybridness, I simply cannot imagine any scenario in which they could not, if they actually wanted to, produce and sell this car profitably.
Powertrain aside, the original Insight had countless new (at least for Honda) technologies that increased it's cost to build. The full aluminum body alone made the car impossible to produce at a realistic cost. That's not to say they couldn't have made a steel version that would have been signifiicantly heavier and wouldn't have gotten as good of mpgs.

Either way, the overhead of a company like HMC means that for any model to be profitable it either has to have lots of commonality with other models, or it has to sell in huge numbers. The original Insight had neither of those.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:16 PM   #64
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Wish mazda woulda made some alum bodied miatas at a loss like that......
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< $10k out the door for an essentially brand-new car that does 70 MPG all day long and weighs less than an Elise. And since it's essentially a conventional drivetrain, you could turbo it easily if you wanted to. I'll bet you a thousand dollars that with a bit of custom code, an MS3 could be made to control the whole thing. And since hybrids are exempt from smog testing in CA, we could even do this here!
You have no idea how many times I considered swapping a K into our 05 Civic hybrid and boosting it to like 700whp for exactly this reason alone.

Then I realized that I'd enjoy it for all of 10 minutes til I got sick of FWD and would hate myself.

PS: It'd be a relatively easy swap too, their hybrid drivetrains and K drivetrains have identical layouts, and actually use some of each others engine mounts and smaller/larger versions of the same subframe/etc.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:58 PM   #65
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Believe it or not, I am actually finding myself tempted by this proposition. A $4k car, plus an engine and transmission overhaul, plus a new $2k battery, plus all the little brake / steering / suspension / bushing maintenance that it probably needs.

< $10k out the door for an essentially brand-new car that does 70 MPG all day long and weighs less than an Elise.
Stop talking like this, you are making me wet. I've been car shopping for a month now and I'm still undecided.

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And since it's essentially a conventional drivetrain, you could turbo it easily if you wanted to. I'll bet you a thousand dollars that with a bit of custom code, an MS3 could be made to control the whole thing. And since hybrids are exempt from smog testing in CA, we could even do this here!
Don't think this hadn't occurred to me as well. I wonder exactly how much of the electric drivetrain you could interface with the MS?
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:01 PM   #66
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Stop talking like this, you are making me wet
If an insight makes you wet, you probably have bladder problems bro
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:33 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
The full aluminum body alone made the car impossible to produce at a realistic cost.
Oh, sure. They weren't thinking big enough.

Why was the body made from aluminum? To keep the weight down.

But why would the car have been heavy if it had not been made of aluminum? Because everyone assumed that it had to be made of metal.


Kit cars, on the whole, tend to be lightweight. They also tend to be made from a GRP body overlaid onto a tube-frame chassis, kind of like the Corvette. This production method is extremely expensive and time-consuming if you're making everything onsey-twosey like kitcar makers do.

But try to envision how a company with the resources of Honda might build them.

Fiberglass body sections would be produced rapidly in large batches on semi-automated vacuum-forming machines. The tooling itself would probably be cheaper than hydro-forming tooling for steel panels. We're talking about body panels being produced like Chinese patio furniture.

The chassis would be dizzying to watch as it was assembled. One robot arm, one robot welder, and one automatic tube bending/cutting machine (yes, these exist). As each individual tube section is needed, it is magically spit out of the bender/notcher, picked up by the arm and carried into position, then zapped by the welder. By the time the arm gets back to the bender/notcher, the next piece has just been squirted out. You could build four or five chassis per hour like this, all without any human interaction, at a single workstation. Raw tube goes in one end, completed chassis pop out the other. Wouldn't even need jigs!

The chassis slides down to the powertrain station, where the whole engine/drivetrain/battery/wiring combo falls into it as a single assembly.

Next station, the suspension parts go on.

Next station, you drop the "cockpit" section of the body (which already has the interior pre-loaded) onto the chassis and bolt it down, just like the marriage station for unibody cars.

Then the rest of the body goes on- just trim bits like fenders and bumper covers. All the panels are already painted and finished, obviously.


This would work. It would have a relatively low capital outlay, and for limited-production vehicles, a reasonable marginal cost.

They already invented the engine and invested in the tooling for it. All they need to do is switch to a DOHC head instead of SOHC, so that they can eliminate the throttle. (Either that, or use the exotic Koenniiieggsezzgg pneumatic-valve system and ditch the cams entirely.) Put in some beefier pistons and rods, go direct injection, and slap a tiny little turbo on it. I'll bet you could run in boost at 15:1 AFR if it was done right.


Quote:
Either way, the overhead of a company like HMC means that for any model to be profitable it either has to have lots of commonality with other models, or it has to sell in huge numbers. The original Insight had neither of those.
Neither did the early Miata. It's always been a very low-volume car, and it's filled with one-off parts. The engine was largely unique (same block, different everything else), the transmission was unique, the suspension was unique, the interior bits were all unique, the body was all unique, the subframes were unique, the diff carrier was unique, etc. The Miata is the exact opposite of a "platform car" and yet they still manage to profitably sell them in miniscule numbers at a reasonable price.

Last edited by Joe Perez; 03-29-2013 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:40 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by 18psi View Post
You have no idea how many times I considered swapping a K into our 05 Civic hybrid and boosting it to like 700whp for exactly this reason alone.
Screw that. I'm talking about taking an Insight and building a badass car (well, an Insight with reasonable straight-line performance) directly out of it.


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Originally Posted by EO2K View Post
I've been car shopping for a month now and I'm still undecided.
Do not buy the Kia.



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I wonder exactly how much of the electric drivetrain you could interface with the MS?
All of it.

I mean that literally. Sure, you'd need to come up with a few application-specific circuits, but that's just a simple matter of one FPGA (or one uP) and a CANbus interface to the main processor. It would be no different at all from the Enhanced Megasquirts that Reverant builds for Miatas.

But I have no doubt at all that with a few simple circuits and a bit of code, a single MS3 could drive an entire Insight, using all of the original sensors and controls.
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:10 PM   #69
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If an insight makes you wet, you probably have bladder problems bro
I think the fiancée would shank me if I bought another DIY car
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:19 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by rharris19 View Post
They are super reliable and will last 200k miles fairly easily. I see them for sale at a local high turn over lot all the time with 60k miles on them for 15-17,000. Great cars and lots of space. If I didn't need a truck for man stuff like going to the track, haulin wood, and cruisin chicks, I would have a Prius.
At 200k... I feel like you will need a new battery pack before that... Thats big money.
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:56 PM   #71
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They are warrantied til 150K and many go to 200

Our civic hybrid battery, on the other hand, barely lasted 60k

Seriously, I get angry just thinking about that stupid thing. We had to basically give it away cause no one even wanted it with 70k miles and in great shape otherwise. The cvt trans was starting to go out, FOR THE 2ND TIME, and the battery was starting to slowly go out too.

They actually had a massive recall on the cvt trans for them, as well as like 10 other things.

As of that car I officially started hating honda.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:23 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by 18psi View Post
They are warrantied til 150K and many go to 200

Our civic hybrid battery, on the other hand, barely lasted 60k

Seriously, I get angry just thinking about that stupid thing. We had to basically give it away cause no one even wanted it with 70k miles and in great shape otherwise. The cvt trans was starting to go out, FOR THE 2ND TIME, and the battery was starting to slowly go out too.

They actually had a massive recall on the cvt trans for them, as well as like 10 other things.

As of that car I officially started hating honda.
Yea, I guess batteries have come a long a way, 200k on a single battery with minimal/low range loss sounds too good to be true, but on a hybrid setup, I am sure they put a lot of battery life optimization in their system.

Battery replacement is the big thing stopping me from considering most hybrids and electrics. Its a big cost and no one has a reasonable answer for it yet.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:29 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Track View Post
At 200k... I feel like you will need a new battery pack before that... Thats big money.
$2,299 to $2,589, depending on the year.

source: Toyota Hybrid Battery Replacement Cost Guide
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:51 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
$2,299 to $2,589, depending on the year.

source: Toyota Hybrid Battery Replacement Cost Guide
+ labor. still 3k on a car with 200k miles that cost <30k new means you are probably paying over 50% of its resale value.

Also, I wonder how much it will be for cars with lithium packs (I know the first gen prius' came with NiCad, not sure about the newer ones).
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:20 PM   #75
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+ labor. still 3k on a car with 200k miles that cost <30k new means you are probably paying over 50% of its resale value.
The book says 1.6 to 1.7 hours labor, so a little under $3k, but yeah- you're in the general ball-park.

As to resale value, that's not always the most important metric in the grand scheme of things. If you don't plan on keeping the car long-term, don't buy it with 200k on the odometer in the first place.

And don't just focus on resale value- focus on how much money you're NOT spending on a new car. Putting $3k of parts into a $6k car makes a lot more sense than paying $30k for a new car and selling it for $15k a few years later.


Quote:
Also, I wonder how much it will be for cars with lithium packs (I know the first gen prius' came with NiCad, not sure about the newer ones).
I'm pretty sure they're NiMn, not NiCad.

The cost per watt-hour is actually not much higher for the cheaper Lithium-based chemistries than NiMn. They will seem costlier on a cell-per-cell basis simply because the cells have a higher energy density.

So, to invent some hypothetical numbers purely for illustration:

Suppose that a NiMh cell costs $2, and has a 10 Wh capacity.
And suppose that a LiMn cell costs $5, and has a 20 Wh capacity.

To build a 10 KWh battery, you'd need 1,000 NiMh cells, costing $2,000.
Or you'd need 500 LiMn cells, costing $2,500.

The cells for the LiMn battery cost 25% more. But they also weigh a lot less, consume less space, require less wiring, packaging and interconnect material, and take less labor to build. Therefore, the cost of the assembled pack might only be 10% more, rather than 25%.

Is it a wash? Not yet. But we're getting there.
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:25 PM   #76
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I have never in my life, and never will, keep a car longer than about 5-6 years.

"Buy used with low miles, sell easy with still relatively low miles" is my motto and has worked perfectly thus far. Never lost more than maybe 1k on a car. Heck, the TSX I just sold, with 104k on the clock, is the HIGHEST mileage car we've ever owned, and that could easily run til well past 200k.

I dunno how you guys do it but keeping a car that long with that many miles seems silly to me. Unless of course you commute like 100mi/day each way or something crazy.
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:48 PM   #77
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Joe, would it be possible for you to "hop up" the electric output for short bursts ob the Insight like you did on your bike?
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:10 PM   #78
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I dunno how you guys do it but keeping a car that long with that many miles seems silly to me. Unless of course you commute like 100mi/day each way or something crazy.
I'm in outside sales, so I drive a lot. I bought a '96 Toyota T100 Extended Cab V6 in '04 with 50k miles on it for $8k. I sold it 6 years later with 330k miles for $3k. Net expense $5k for 280k miles. Net major repairs were 1 starter 1 alternator, and 1 rear wheel bearing.

The math just makes great sense when it comes to certain makes and models of used vehicles that are known for their longevity. You must choose correctly, though. The flashy and cool cars aren't always the ones that prove to be the best bang for the buck.
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:36 PM   #79
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The Miata is the exact opposite of a "platform car" and yet they still manage to profitably sell them in miniscule numbers at a reasonable price.
Global sales of 30k-70k per year is hardly miniscule. And think how many years they amortized the tooling, a lot of the same tooling was used from '89-'04. Just the NA was over 400k units. That is not miniscule by any measure.

Total global sales of the first generation Insight was 17020 units.

Amortize a set of body tooling with 400k units versus 17k.


Per your kit-car construction small hybrid car; I imagine re-inventing a factory to build a car like you described would cost quite a bit more than you think. I'm not saying it couldn't be done but I think it would still be a lot more expensive than you think.

Anyway - cliff notes

Prius - it's not that bad, Vlad even bought one

Insight I - cool car, cool tech, lots of kit for the money (whether 2000 or today), too expensive to build

Insight II - awful, less expensive to build...
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:11 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by sixshooter View Post
Joe, would it be possible for you to "hop up" the electric output for short bursts ob the Insight like you did on your bike?
It's possible.

One thing which really surprised me about the Insight is just how small its battery is. In stock form, it's rated for 6.5 Ah at 144 volts, or about 930 watt-hours. For comparison, the battery on my current bike is rated for 11.5 Ah at 52v, or about 600 watt hours. In other words, the battery in the Insight is only about 50% larger than the battery on my bike! (The aftermarket replacements presently available bump the capacity to 8Ah at 144v.)

Perhaps a visual is in order:



That's the whole battery (not just the part in his hand, the box behind it as well.)

In stock trim, the electric motor is rated at 10KW, which is about 13 HP. So the battery and the motor are well-matched in this regard- the motor could be run continuously at full power for about 6 minutes before depleting a full battery to empty, which is quite a lot more time than any of us spend continuously accelerating.

If you wanted to hot-rod the system, you'd take a two-tiered approach. Step 1 would be to change the battery voltage. This could be done by adding additional cells in series with the stock battery, or more preferably by changing the battery chemistry to something newer and denser.

Remember how I mentioned my bike earlier? The same guy who built my battery also sells 50v, 20Ah prismatic batteries for $835, capable of 80A continuous discharge. Five of these in series would get you a 250v, 20Ah battery. At this point, you also need to replace or modify the motor controller, but we jumped off that bridge a long time ago. Step 2: if we now set up the controller to run 250v at 70A (a little headroom is nice), we can now operate the electric motor at 17.5 KW instead of 10 KW. Call it 23 HP, up from 13. (The regen system is now a total nightmare as well, but I'm going to handwave that for the moment.)

Not a massive improvement, but it's a start.


I'd still want to throw a small turbo on the engine.
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Last edited by Joe Perez; 03-29-2013 at 10:35 PM.
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