About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know

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About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Wow, it has been awhile since I've written here. Just very busy I guess.

The media seems to be giving more and more coverage to the so-called "hybrid" cars being produced these days. I find this very annoying. Now, don't get me wrong. I love my Honda Insight, it's just not a hybrid. Neither is the Toyota Prius, or the Honda Civic Hybrid. Nor is the new Ford Escape hybrid. They are all gasoline cars. At best, they can be described as "mild hybrids".

You see, their only source of power is gasoline. In order to charge the batteries, the gas engine must run. You cannot plug these cars into the grid and charge the batteries externally. Hence, they are not true hybrids. A real hybrid can be powered by either source, or both if the operator chooses. If you decide not to buy gas, you plug in the car an drive on the battery pack. If you decide you don't want to plug in the car, the gas engine charges the battery.

What's interesting is that the Toyota hybrid system is actually capable of this, Toyota just decided not to make the minor changes necessary to build a true hybrid. Prius drivers who have hacked their systems report that the stock battery pack is good for about 8 miles or so. Just enough to make all those short trips that really bring out the inefficiency of the internal combustion engine.

This is not possible on the Honda system, which connects the motor directly to the engine and thus requires the gasoline engine to run anytime you want to move the car (unless coasting in neutral). Even with this limitation, it is my opinion that the simple and elegant Honda IMA system is worlds better then the convoluted Toyota Synergy system. And real world data would back up this claim. It's very rare to hear of a Prius driver obtain over 65 MPG. However, 65 MPG is about the lowest city mileage I have ever obtained in the Insight in fair weather (any car will have crappy mileage if you are plowing through 6 inches of snow...but even so, my Insight still manages 50 MPG in the dead of winter, with multiple cold starts per day). My average city mileage is about 68 MPG, and highway mileage ranges from 75 MPG to over 100 MPG. Try that with a Prius/Civic/Escape.

My point is that while media coverage of "hybrids" is great in one way, all it currently does is add to the existing ignorance of the public. A recent news story condemned hybrids because they don't seem to be delivering the EPA quoted mileage. Well there must have been something wrong with the car they used as their example, because my Insight has almost constantly performed ABOVE the EPA mileage by a significant margin. Another story talked about the dangerous posed by hybrid electrical systems to rescue workers. I'm not sure if I've ever read a story that was more inaccurate. There is not a single fact correct in the entire article. Or how about the news (and indeed, the auto companies themselves) constantly saying "You never need to plug it in!". Great. Instead of cleanly and conveniently recharging my car at home for pennies, I instead have to drive to a gas station, in the pouring cold rain, pump a horrible (smelly, cancer causing, environment rotting, and just generally unfriendly) liquid into my car, and pay someone else a ridiculous amount of money for the privelege?

The current hybrids are great. They do their job. They are a necessary stepping stone for the general public (or more likely, the auto manufacturers) to pure electric. It's just that they aren't hybrids.

Comments From Others

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Why Honda Insight is no more produced? insight and any other real fuel efficient vehicles are not allowed by strong powers in the world who have no interest in letting the price of petrol fall down, as they have accumulated strategic stocks of petrol during the last years and it became a doubtfull trade. My advise to you is to keep buying very economic cars non hybrid but with small engines and manual gears. For the stuburn ones try to make your own system in the car you might be more succesfull than the most recent economic models.

(Editor's notes: It was just lack of demand, not some huge conspiracy. The Insight was rather expensive for what most people considered an "economy" car and in North America, two seaters with manual transmissions don't sell well.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I think your on crack, 75 -100 mpg on the hwy with your insight...utter BS! down a 7% grade with a 70 mph tail wind maybe. ....as is claiming an insight will hit 60 mph in 8 seconds! Now we DEFINITELY know your full of BS! The laws of physics dictate that at that power to weight ratio 8 seconds to 60 mph in the insight is impossible! I doubt that if it was geared to a top speed of 60 mph it would be able to do this. Smoke another one.

(Editor's notes: OK, maybe 9 seconds. But feel free to check the Insight forums and then get back to be about not believing my mileage. I have many pictures of my fuel consumption display showing above 90MPG after a highway trip.)

About Hybrid Cars: What nobody Seems To Know
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Hey, I see that it has been awhile since anyone said anything on this thread. Is your insight still kicking, I figure it should be at least 7 years old now right? A good mechanic once told me that for a new car to pay for its self you should expect it to last about 10 years with minimal repairs. I agree that hybrid's are a great theory but that's about where it ends. Yes there are some hybrid's out there that get great mileage but does that make up for the repairs. At this point it seems that hybrid's aren't old enough yet to judge there reliability but with the insane number of parts that I would imagine go into them I expect to see a lot of them start to fail in the next few years. They get great gas mileage but that is the only good aspect of them. Not to mention that I remember reading about some car made in the 50's that got 50+ mpg with a carbureted engine, you know darn well that it is possible to get better than hybrid mileages with a modern gas engine. They just wont do it because they can get more money if they don't. And they just make the hybrids to get more money yet because they cost more to make and you get less for what pay. That being said I wouldn't but a hybrid unless it gets at least 150mpg consistently. What does your insight get for a 0-60 test. A good 0-60 is at least 15 seconds. If it couldn't "get out of its own way" as you said somewhere, then its garbage to me because then that would mean I couldn't get out of some idiot driver's way either. My 05 Taurus jumps from 0-60 in about 6 seconds, all stock. And it still gets a decent 35mpg highway and 26 in town and has never failed me. I don't want just a car that gets great mileage, I want one that I can rely on for years, like my 77 t-bird that's still kicking. Also you say that your insight had 150000 miles and still looked great. Yea if you take care of a car any car will look great for years, I actually haven't tried to take care of it (I haven't tried to break it either though) and my Taurus now has around 160000 miles and it looks nearly perfect aside from some tiny dings in the doors from other idiot drivers opening there doors into mine. Oh, I have been wondering this, maybe you could answer this question for me, how does the hybrid heat? I live here in MN and we just got over a cold spell, a week that hovered around -30F and dipped down to the -40's (My Taurus started right up one morning and the dash said it was -49) and I just love how my Taurus can go from that -49 up to warm enough to burn you in a few minutes. And it made me wonder, "how would a hybrid keep its occupants warm in these conditions?" or "Battery's are sensitive to cold, how would a hybrid even fair at -49?". This forum hasn't been updated in awhile and so I am wondering what happend? You obviously should know more about hybrid's than me being that you have one. I am always interested in learning more So I would like to see your thoughts on my thoughts, I will check back.

(Editor's notes: My Insight is now 10 years old, and aside from a broken rear engine mount (I will replace soon) and needing a clutch (whenever I get around to it), it is doing great. Both those repairs are not unexpected with 200,000+ miles on the clock. I'm still getting 65-75 MPG in the city and 75-100 MPG on the highway. Honda specs the car at 10 seconds 0-60 but my timings show it to be closer to 8 seconds. As for the heat, Insights only have a 900CC engine, so not much heat available until the car is fully warm.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sorry, slight correction to that last comment, my Taurus does 0-60 in 8 sec, not 6. My t-bird does it in 5. :-)
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
These cars do not save money on the highyway. I own a toyota camry hybrid. It is said to get 38 mpg on highway, but it is not. I had a non hybrid camry previously and the highway mileage is the same.

(Editor's notes: Most of the hybrids out there suck. The only one that gets decent mileage in the Honda Insight, which is no longer produced. I regularly get between 75 and 90 MPG on the highway in my 2000 Insight.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Hybrids are for idiots. They are overly complicated pieces of planned obsolescence. Since most of you are too stupid to work on your own vehicles you don't realize that they are not very durable. Also in terms of energy usage half of the total input goes into making the car. Thus a small fuel efficient conventional vehicle that lasts 20 years is far better than a hybrid that gets slightly better gas mileage and only lasts about 8 years... Frankly I find the whole hybrid discussion quite ridiculous it honestly appears as if that car companies have found a way of suckering fake green types in to believing they are actually doing something to help the world when in reality they are just continuing with their half assess technological progress....

(Editor's notes: Well...My 2000 Honda Insight currently has 150,000+ miles on it, and still looks like it came off the showroom floor (aside from a few dents and dings). It's broken down exactly once, requiring a replacement oxygen sensor that I installed. Maintenance (that I perform) basically amounts to an oil change every 10,000 miles. It still gets between 65 and 75 MPG in the city, and 85+ MPG on the highway. So uh, what were you saying?)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Friday, June 08, 2007
Just wondering, what happens to those batteries when they wear out? Do they get recycled? And if so, how much? It would sure make me sick to think they end up in a landfill. Would probably make all the tree huggers sick too.

(Editor's notes: They get recycled.)

About Hybrid Cars: Ect.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Rule 1) First use only what you need. Hydrogen will be the answer but God has not parted those skies yet. Battery technology has not progressed enough to give the electric car that edge. Rule 2) Use what you have. Perfect the fossil fuel engines to produce near 100% power recovery and 0% emissions. (Could use it for my home to.) Embrace all clean energy sources nature has given us. Even if itís in my yard. Rule 3) Never believe never as an answer only as a start to a new question.

(Editor's notes: 1. Hydrogen will never work the way people have been brainwashed to believe it will. Lots of reasons. Google "hydrogen myth" or something like that. 2. It's impossible for any engine/more to be 100% efficient with no emissions. 3. Huh?)

Mark Carley
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Lean burn was mentioned in this thread. Does anyone know if the insight could be made to run in lean burn only?

(Editor's notes: Nope. The ECM only allows lean burn under very light loads such as steady state cruising.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Not sure if this thread is still active or not, since the last post was 6 months ago. I am curious as to how you figure out your mileage, your driving situation (ie weather/ temp, stop and go, and your location etc). I was just looking at the Honda website and they say they are no longer producing the Insight. I guess they are trying to force their people into spending a lot more on the "new hybrid Accord and civic's that don't get nearly the mileage as the Insight.

(Editor's notes: There are multiple mileage gauges on the dash.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I really wish they had plug in cars or plug in hybrids. Every hybrid maker is like "you never have to plug it in". Well God forbid i move my lazy a** to drag a cord from my car to, *gasp*, an outlet. What is the big hairy deal? I want that cheap form of power, not to mention that it's cleaner. The problem is the expense, weight, and inneficiency of todays batterys, you need several hundred pounds to get an acceptable car. A handful of people have acutally made their own elec. cars from old or broken ICE ones. If I had the time and the capital, i would like to build one, if even for the novelty of it.

(Editor's note: Li-Ion batteries are light and efficient, which huge watt-hour capacities...)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Friday, March 31, 2006
I really like the Insight. I have a friend who has had one for years and he absolutely loves it. He is currently looking into installing a speaker system in the back end that plays the "Jetson's" space ship noise as he drives around. It is currently the only hybrid I'd consider because it's the only one that would give me any benefit (figuring in the mileage and other costs for my particular driving situation) over what I drive now. The big drawback is I have a wife and two growing kids and it's only a two seater. If they kicked it up to 4 seats and somehow managed to maintain it's current performance I would certainly be in the market for one. Otherwise I will probably end up with a VW TDI, which based on my sister-in-law's and co-worker's experiences will give me 40+ mpg for my driving experience.
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I wonder what the efficiency of your Honda Insight would be with a small engine in it that would be of sufficient size to give average performance. A modern engine without the weight of the battery and electric drive.It seems to me that the Insight is only a small vehicle and even with this configuration would get very good milage. Using an electric outlet does not help the ecology. It's a very poluting way of using energy with the transfer innefficiencies involved. I appologise if these topics have been covered elswhare in your page. Your site is so popular there's a lot to read.

(Editor's note: The weight of the electric components of the Insight is well under 150 LBs. Without the electric motor, the gas engine would be spending much more time operating at it's most inefficient range, thus performance and mileage would greatly suffer. As for plug-in being dirty, that's simply untrue for more reasons then I care to type at the moment. Search Google for "dubunking EVs and smokestacks" if you are interested.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Friday, December 02, 2005
hybrid cars rule
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Forgetting the issue of hybrids, reporters today are idiots on every subject. Fifty-odd years ago, reporters were young "cubs" who worked their way up the ladder to reporter, or they were university grads in something else. Journalism degrees didn't exist. Now, these idiots "graduate" as "journalists" and know how to write a "news item", but not one of them can think. They can't read a bookkeeping record, they don't know the difference between communist and fascist, they have no clue of what happened in the world before yesterday, never mind before they were born. They can't do the basic math necessary to figure out fuel mileage. All the big name reporters of the past, whether TV, radio, or print, were either ex-soldiers, history/English majors, or street rats who knew what was going on. Now they're all talking heads - check that, talking *empty* heads. Back to the topic, I saw an item on an electric motorcycle being manufactured that gets 200km on a charge and tops out at 80km/h. What is people's obsession with having a car?

(Editor's note: Motorcycles are great...I'm purchasing one soon...but I need to be able to haul stuff and stay dry in the rain/snow...)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Actually all of this is true. The Miles Per Gallon isn't 50 and all that load of crap they tell you on the stick on the window. What they do to get these results is ride them on a perfectly smooth track. Not everyday driving. These cars probably get around 35mpg at most.

(Editor's note: And you know this because you have massive experience in hybrids? Clearly not. I've been driving my Honda Insight for 3 years now, and have only once or twice seen mileage as low as 50 MPG. Certainly NEVER, EVER as low as 35MPG. I drive around in the city getting between 65 and 75 MPG, and on the highway between 75 and 100 MPG.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Monday, June 06, 2005
how fast they can be

(Editor's note: I've had my Insight up to about 120 MPH...How fast do you need to go really?)

Diabetic Duck
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Friday, March 18, 2005
EPA estimates are never very accurate anyway. Well they are "estimates' anyway. Everyone's driving style contributes to their own subjective gas mileage. An objective gas mileage is purely a baseline in the EPA estimates. I've experienced anywhere from 10mpg to 35mpg in my car all depending on factors such as quality of gas, how dirty the oil is, air filter, tire pressure, load weight, etc etc. I think hyrbids are a great leap forward and I agree that they aren't doing everything they have the technology to do. I chock that up to the fact that oil companies are still big business and that oil stockholders are present in just about any huge corporation you can name. Lots of companies have extraordinary hybrid production vehicles planned though and all we need do is wait for them. Hydrogen is still very iffy. Everyone says "oh its the most abundant element on the planet"... yeah buts its combined with everything else as molecules... As of now, it's expensive, sometimes dangerous, and energy innefecient to split molecules contaning hydrogen. Again, maybe just give it some time.
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Please be aware that even if you can plug in your car to the electrical grid over 50 percent of power in the US comes from coal powered plants. You might as well use gas to power your cars. In Canada 60 % comes from clean hydro power. If we can not have a clean sourse of power generation there is no point to electic cars. Please change your web page colors. It is very difficult to read.

(Editor's note: Still cleaner and more efficient then burning gas in each individual car's combustion engine.)

Gnubber Lang
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Sunday, January 30, 2005
I don't know much about them, but I hear BMW has a hydrogen/gasoline hybrid coming out in it's 7 series (IIRC) They claim it can run off of hydrogen OR gasoline depending on which is available. I think this would be a great way to transition to a new source of power. I guess this would be a true hybrid? Saw something about this on the news but it was in a 30 second story. Wish they had covered it some more.

(Editor's note: Great, but where does the hydrogen come from?)

Bob Brown
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Thursday, January 20, 2005
In reading the technical info on the Ford Escape Hybrid it has become clear to me that Ford is licensing the Toyota system (and possibly buying the entire drivetrain from Toyota). How come nobody in the automotive press is pointing this out? Is it no big deal? Is it too embarrasing? What is the deal?

(Editor's note: Probably embarrassment...)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Monday, November 08, 2004
I think hybrids will do good. They pollute less, and save gas. I have also been doing research on hybrids, and they seem better then bad. Therefore, you should buy hybrids.
Dave Brusiee
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Monday, November 01, 2004
I don't believe that Hybrid cars get any better mileage on the highway than a comparable gas only automobile. Think about it; how can adding a larger motor/generator and battery to a small gas engine improve the mileage? Lets hold off taling about city driving and the total system performance until we agree on highway mileage. Thanks

(Editor's note: Sounds good in theory, but in practice it's not so good. The magic of the Insight is not it's electric motor, but it's lean burn gas engine. This 3 cylinder engine burns mixtures much leaner then a typical engine, and has MANY tweaks with regards to efficiency and emissions. However, it is completely gutless. If you disable the electric motor, the Insight is virtually undrivable. So the electric motor is there to make the gas engine livable. Now, why not make an ultra-efficient gas engine with more power? Simple. If you size an engine to the maximum power requirements of a vehicle, you end up with an engine that is grossly oversized for 99% of normal driving. By undersizing the gas engine and supplementing it's power with a on-demand electric assist, you dramatically increase it's efficiency. This is what's done in the Insight. The gas engine by itself doesn't have enough power to get the car up to highway speed. 0-60 comes in "maybe". However, with the addition of the electric motor, this little engine is made to perform much better then it's "pure" gas equivalent. The energy that was fed to the electric motor from the batteries is then recovered through regenerative braking, downhill costing, and a slight "topping up" from the gas engine. This system works remarkably well, and I highly doubt that any pure gas car can deliver both the mileage and the performance of the Insight. You could make a car get the mileage, but it wouldn't have enough power to get out of it's own way...Remember, I am seeing 80-100MPG highway in my Insight, and 65-75MPG city. Hope that answers your question.)

About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Monday, June 28, 2004
I agree with you totally, but what I dont understand is why there arent more diesel "hybrids" out there. Properly designed and tuned diesels are much more efficient than gasoline engines, and the fuels are cheeper..
About Hybrid Cars: What The Media Doesn't Seem To Know
Thursday, June 24, 2004
these inaccuracies in the media are printed for the masses who are lead by red tape and propaganda. people who wish to have to be told what to think there seems to be a restriction on printing true and accurate information.not only does the media not know it simply is to complacent to care

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