The three major Japanese car makers are taking a distinctly different approach to the imminent arrival of the electric car. Nissan has jumped in with both feet and will launch Leaf, its battery-powered e-car, at the end of the year. Toyota is putting its eggs in the true hybrid basket - its Prius is capable of both battery- and …
Tsk. Where to buy?
... I think it was from a bootnote at the end of an El Reg group test, well over a decade ago, that I learned of the existence of DABS, and pretty soon that was the only place I went for electronic or electric techie toys.
But do DABS stock these? Do they b*ggery. Going to hell in a handbasket since David Atherton sold up.
Perhaps I'm being unreasonable ... would I really want to pay mail-order delivery charges on something that weighs over a ton? Mmm, probably over the threshold for free delivery ... wonder how they'd get it off the van?
Which Insight is the article referring to?
This looks very much like the original Insight and should have carried the Insight badge instead of it being given to the Prius clone.
As far as fun+performance this was noted with the original Insight as well. While it was built as a super-economy commuter vehicle its hybrid drivetrain could deliver acceleration at the traffic lights on par with 3.2l monsters.
This is really the _OLD_ Insight done today. It is sad that El Reg has given up to the whalesong on this one has failed to notice the reality.
Looks like an evolution of the old Honda CR-X to me.
What an atrocious boot!
Just look at it! Deep enough to fit in loads of shopping, but yo uhave to lift it to head-hight to get it over the tail, then lean almost fully into the boot to pull the stuff out again when you get back home.
You're aware this isn't a wagon, right? At a paltry 225 / 401 liters, we have very different definitions of "fit in loads of shopping". At a bit narrower and taller the Ford Fiesta has 281 / 965 liters is where I could be convinced "loads of shopping" would apply.
It's a compromise
If you have a low boot sill, you've basically got tube that's sealed at one end (engine bay bulkhead) and open at the other, which is not very stiff and a big downer for handling.
You can always try to correct this by adding metal to the design, but that sort of defeats the object of being sporty and green. My wife's Integra has this same compromise, but then it only weighs as much as a fiesta and goes like fertiliser off a digging implement.
Could be done better?
"...move to overtake while in Economy you're left wondering where all the power has gone.."
Why don't they have some kind of throttle demand-rate sensor so the power can be pushed up (maybe also turning off the air-con and screen heaters, if any) for a short time? I'm thinking along the lines of a throttle/brake pedal rate sensing system that varies the 'mode' according to how the driver operates them....
Maybe the mode takes a significant time to change........?
In my ten year old, 2 litre petrol engine car, I can go to economy mode by being slow and gentle with the throttle and brakes, then go to 'sports' mode with a flick of my right foot :)
How about an E Reg competition?
"A hybrid sports coupe that satisfies both the Road Warrior and Tree Hugger in you."
Heavy metals mined in Canada at huge environmental cost, shipped all the way round the world and back in several stops for refining, to be turned into foam, packed into batteries, fitted in the car and then sold to me is somehow supposed to satisfy my inner tree hugger?
Really? I heard it was lithium from sea water but if you want to believe the oil companies feel free.
(note, this is not a Nickel Cadmium battery pack! no matter what you've been told.)
Why go hybrid?
When say a diesel BMW 1 series for the same dosh is faster and does more to the gallon to boot?
I know there's probably other measures, such as low/no tax, possibly avoiding congestion charges, but for simply getting from A to B?
No model bias - Mine's a white van.
Slow, not that good looking, not that economical and why do you say it's a "roadster" when it clearly isn't?
Good to see the return of some 'leccy car coverage. I for one miss it.
My diesel corsa outperforms, uses less fuel and is less expensive than this silly car. If they started with an efficient clean diesel they'd be getting somewhere, but hey this is all about fashion, isn't it?
To think that you can outperform AND use less fuel.
Whilst there is no doubt you can get better MPG when cruising effficently OR you can get better Performance when you boot it. You will not get anywhere near the efficiency of this on a stop start run thorugh a town centre.
I had one of those as a "courtesy car". More of an insult than a courtesy by any sane standard. Horrible piece of GM trash.
Well they got one part right...
I've been waiting for someone to stick a third pedal in a hybrid. I figured that nobody would try, since hybrids generally want to be able to control the entire drivetrain by computer in order to achieve maximum efficiency. And maximum bore.
This thing is surprisingly light for hauling all those batteries (~2500 lbs, apparently,) but the (estimated) 0-60 mph in 9.0 seconds sounds a bit less than what I'd call "fun to drive." And in the US it's the same price as a GTI, which means somewhat more expensive than a MazdaSpeed3, which are quicker and quite a bit of fun to drive. Seems as though you still have to give up quite a bit for some mileage gains. Like that back seat leg room.
Good try though.
If they market this... thing as a sports car I will be forced to sue them for false advertising.
10 seconds to 60?!
...in a horrifyingly ugly econobox? No thanks - I'll take my Saab 9-5's plushness, space, 6.7 second times and 30mpg any day.
6.7 second times and 30mpg
AND Really? do you mean OR?
Currently at 25.1mpg with it being absolutely thrashed around city stop-and-go, and 30 cruising. Turbo 4 for the win.
And given that I paid 9k for it, the price differential will pay for a hell of a lot of extra gas...
Damned by Statistics
You have to bear in mind what this vehicles speciality is and then you can understand it better. its not a motorway cruiser its really a stop start city car. and the economy figures really fail to do justice to this car.
My journey to work is 6 miles through the middle of a city centre I drop the misses off at mile 5, it usually takes me 20 minutes at an average of about 18mph, I pass no less that 30 sets of traffic lights an usually stop at at least 10 of them. I drive a 2 litre turbo diesel and can get anywhere from 34-24 mpg depending on the number of stops (its a hilly city too!). I see this car in a slightly different light, as it is able to recover energy from coasting to a stop at lights and then use that to launch back up to criusing speed again, effectivly cutting the fuel consumption dramatically, I see my situation as ideal for this kind of vehicle and would expect the most dramatic efficiency savings from this type of car, yes others are better at motorway cruising on just oil, but I dont do that often!
However I would really like to see this car taken further, at least double the motor power and double the battery capacity, taking it a lot closer to the prius spec but still a small car. or even better quadruple the motor and battery in a plugin vairant!
And before anyone suggests it, public transport is Crap! I can walk 10 minutes to a bus stop get a bus into the city (15 mins) then I need to walk across the city centre, 15-20 mins, and get another bus (15 Mins) out the other side which goes to a housing estate not the commercial park. so I then have another walk (15 Min) total time well over 1 hour, 2 miles on foot, and all for £3.20! no thanks!!! So I car pool with the missues, and save half the time! (time is the luxury you cant buy!)
On the outside it looks suspiciously like a '92 Civic with a West Coast body kit.
There's no point waiting for a Honda 1.4 diesel to rival the Corsa etc.
They've put their eggs in the Hydrogen basket, no more diesels now.
Beter marketing than a Prius though
At least being marketed as a fun economical little city car that can provide some extra shove from the batteries when required saves if from being marketed as an eco-weenies way of being superior than thou means it might not be instantly hated.
That insurance group though, 17? Holy christ!
I saw the insurance group and laughed. I love my 224g 2.5turbo ford smax. Does a lovely 25mpg in town/on motorway but will accelerate me, the wife and 3 kids (witha boot load of shopping and prams) quite happily about far better than this pseudo green pile of poo.
Fuck the trees.
Well I guess if you reckon 30mpg is worth boasting about (except in a Robocop "And I want a car. One that gets really lousy mileage." kind of way), then I guess you're not the target audience.
BTW, 0-60 isn't entirely relevant, since it's rare that you want to start from stationary and accelerate to 60. A hybrid does 0-30ish *very* well, because that's where the leccy does its thing. There's good odds that on a traffic light drag start, this will give your Saab some competition. It's above 30 that performance will tail off, bcos leccy doesn't do high RPMs.
I'm still waiting for someone to do a diesel hybrid too. Trouble is that it won't sell in the States - the incredible crappiness of 1970s diesels is still tainting the reputation of modern diesels over there.
...the gearing in my Saab favors 0-30 - first tops out around 35 and second at 60. The newer V6 versions tend to be quicker 40-60, but mine for whatever reason is pretty much traction limited up to 20mph; the thing is a rocket ship off the line. 60 to 90 passing is absurdly quick, too.
30mpg for a plush 3600lb luxobarge with enough space for a stroller+groceries, a car seat, and excellent safety, that's as quick as the Saab, is indeed something to boast about. And as I pointed out above, buying used will save you enough money to buy a few hundred gallons of gas to make up the difference.
Our Subaru Forester does 0-60 in the mid 8s and hardly kicks you in the back when you go from a stop light; I find it difficult to believe that the CRZ will beat the Saab to 30 but be so slow 30 to 60 that its 0-60 time is so horrible.
It's a Prius in a mutated wolf's clothing; calling it 'sporty' is absurd.
I've no idea what the different CR-X models were like to drive outside Gran Turismo, but hopefully this one's like the Mk2, not the mk3/del Sol
Plus, Nissan's French. That's why it has this outrageous accent!!
I don't think that 13HP of leccy is going to do much for you in this case - as the article says, it is barely enough to maintain a steady 30MPH, and I for one never really get that chance anyway.
We don't need no stinking diesels
Quite right. Diesels and the US mix like Gulf of Mexico seawater and BP crude oil. It is in part because of the craptacular diesels in the days of yore, but also because the diesels we do have (trucks, buses) are much less regulated with respect to emissions than the gasoline [petrol] engines in cars, so the perception continues to be one of acrid, dirty, black smoke and particulate matter. Also, diesel costs more than gas here (likely the effect of tax policy, since it requires less refining I believe, though the demand curve is different), which is the opposite (I think) of most European markets.
Back on topic though, I owned a CRX which obviously inspired this car as well as the gen I Insight and it was by far the best car I've ever owned: It got MPG's in the high 40's on a plain old gasoline engine, was fun to drive, and passed California smog tests (in the 1990's at least) with flying colors. I've not owned a vehicle as economical (including several motorcycles, mostly Hondas) before or since. I for one have resisted buying a hybrid largely for lack of manual trannies. The Insight had one, and the early Civics (in theory, but good luck finding one). I'll have to give this one a test-drive.
Torque, not power
It's not the 13bhp that makes the difference, it's the near 60lb/ft it can add.
See modern TDs for comparison. A petrol car with 170hp/170lb-ft will always be slower in real world conditions (in gear acceleration etc) than a TD with 170hp/270lb-ft.
If you view the electric motor as a way to boost the engines power, as opposed to a way to travel without guzzling gas at low speeds, it makes a lot of sense to have that extra power boost available without seriously hitting your overall (quite high) MPG figure.
(IMHO anyway, having learned to drive in my instructors 1.4 Polo, and my old mans sheddy, but booooooosty Rover 200 TD - the rover has less power, but more torque, and is easier to drive at pace thanks to that extra torque - providing the turbo is spooled up, natch. Less manic gearchanging trying to get into the powerband)
I for one welcome our electrically boosted hot hatch overlords.
I'm going wait for the Type R
Im waiting for the Electric Mini from PML. You know, the 540hp one. With an electric motor in each wheel hub. That does 0-60 in sub 5 seconds. And does 200/300 miles on a full charge.
I'd actually buy the electric mini from pml, hell I'd go into debt just to buy one. Its fast AND economical. Oh and four wheel drive. I think I just creamed my self...
PML did it right...nearly.
It was good but it still had problems! The PML Pancake motors used in each wheel are the ultimate drive solution, providing motive power and braking. The reason they are so powerful is that the motors are designed to provide electromagnetic braking, meaning they need to be able to retard enough energy to stop a one tonne, 70mph car in 3 seconds.. (this is equal and opposite to accelerating from 0-70 in 3 seconds!), unfortunatly this is also where the problems started.. such massive power surges meant that the battery system could not cope efficently, the car really needed a capacitor storage system to smooth the surges. Also as the charge varied the amount of braking varied also, meaning you didn't know how hard it was going to brake, which is bad news! using a capacitor resevoir could have helped here! and an electronic solution for smoothing this would be required, probably using accelerometers to the provide even consistant braking force, however this would also provide a good electronic stability/traction control package, used for both delivering power and absorbing it.
There was a minor issue with unspring mass due to the moderatly heavy motors, and there was an issue with the size of cables required (heavey-duty due to large surge).
The most significant issue of all though was the lack of hydraulic calliper brakes, it was deemed that the public would not accept an electrical only solution (even though this is used in many applications such as rollercoasters) The only way to fix this would be to redesign the pancake motor such that there was a calliper actuating on the outer rim of the motor stator disc (so the disc would need to be pretty exotic eg copper tracks printed on ceramic discs) and to have a combined pedal such that the hydraulic only came in to play at the final third of the pedal travel, and would only be used for emergency stops.
However bearing all this in mind I too would have liked to have had the chance to buy a PML mini or even better been able to buy the bits to fit on a lightwweight kit car (of the 7 variety).
What most people do not understand is that all these hybrid / electric / eco cars are aimed at a Japanese traffic situation.
Traveling 50 km takes 1 hour using the highway.
Traveling 75 km (Kitakyushu city to Fukuoka city) takes about 2.5 - 3 hours by normal road.
In Japan every 500 m you ll have a traffic light and they are not synchronized. Well not at the legal speed anyway. If you speed you might make it through 3 or 4 traffic lights instead of 1 or 2.
More than half of the time you are standing still in Japan the moment you enter someplace with buildings. There is a good reason why DVD players, TV's and all the rest of the distractions keep working while you drive in Japan.
@AC: 6.7 second times and 30mpg
"AND Really? do you mean OR?"
I have a Civic Type-R and I pretty much always accelerate like a lunatic (0-60 around the 6.5s level), but I still get between 30 and 38mpg depending on how much urban and how much motorway driving I do. Oh, I don't often speed much down the motorway (speed don't impress me, acceleration and handling do) but I certainly don't do 56mph either. My aircon is virtually always on as well.
I have a good friend with a 3.2L V6 automatic crossfire and he seems to average around 30mpg as well - I don't know if he boots it all the time but he certainly does when I am in the car.
If you want to get through the city quickly and economically...
Buy a motorbike. I get 80mpg+, 0-60 in around 7 seconds, plus it cuts out much of that pesky waiting in traffic jams and traffic light queues.
Kawasaki Ninja 250R if you care - bought it brand new for £3400 a year and a half ago and could sell it tomorrow for £3000 easily.
Nice for you
Any I'm sure it does well when the weathers all shite, too. Thanks, but no thanks.
It does fine then too thanks. Unless there's snow on the ground, which there isn't for most people, most of the time in any reasonablly sized town or city.
I've also ridden it across the Severn Bridge several times in gales and a blizzard. Wouldn't reccomend that, but that's what the car's for. Cars are just stupid for commuting in urban areas.
Hmmm. My Toyota iQ is a fully petrol car, and I regularly get 56-60mpg urban out of it with careful driving, it's in insurance group 2 and attracts ZERO road tax because it puts out less than 99g/km carbon.
Oh and it's £10K so half the price of this Honda. The Toyota seats 3 adults +1 kid, and is short enough to park at right-angles to the kerb.
The only thing this Honda beats it on is 0-60 performance, but then in order to get the full 9.9 secs performance you would have to floor the gas which will completely kill your economy, so what gives?
I'd much rather have an iQ and £12,000 change. KTHXBYE.