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Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

  #1  
Old 12-05-2006, 02:08 PM
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Default Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

I have a 2000 Honda Insight in excellent condition that has never had any problems. It meets my needs perfectly. But I keep hearing about battery problems and I assume that I too will have to replace my battery eventually. My questions are: Is there any way lithium ion batteries could replace my nickel cadmium ones? And is there any way the Insight could be modified to be a plug-in? Honda did not choose to update the Insight in this way. That could have been because it was not technologically feasible or it could also have been because the Insight line was not profitable for them. Has any one ever had the same thoughts and looked into this?

I have never visited any Honda Insight sites before. Watched "Who Killed The Electric Car" yesterday. Cannot help but feel that Honda killed its Insight. Briefly scanning this site I got the impression, perhaps wrongly so, that there were more problems with recent models than earlier models of the Insight.
 
  #2  
Old 12-05-2006, 02:50 PM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

I'll try to answer your questions.

For the untrained or lead-footed driver, it's easy to drain the battery on manual transmission Civic hybrids and the Insight. I also think it's easy to take care of the hybrid battery pack to give them a good long life - just need to know what to do.

The software for the early Hondas did allowed the battery pack to go as low as 15% - too low. It was changed on later models and recalls to 40%. The key to long battery pack is avoiding deep discharges or overcharging. The 2000 Insight had the most problems as it was first. BTW, my battery pack was replaced at 94,000 miles. The new pack/software seldom does the dreaded recal - I almost have to intentionally do it.

Lithium batteries - that would be something for Mike Dabrowski (his site is at www.99mpg.com) to attempt. I fully expect people like him to try lithium batteries and supercapacitors on the Insight in the coming years. He has improvised a 5th wheel for a limited EV mode, but added some conventional lead-acid batteries.

The Insight's 1st-generation IMA technology will not allow a true plugin conversion because it can't go in an EV mode. Still, anyone with the knowhow to beef up the limited hybrid battery pack would definitely improve the fuel economy and improve the emissions by reducing the load on the gas engine as it accelerates to highway speed.

I don't know of anyone yet that has put in lithium batteries as a kit, but it would definitely improve the fuel economy of an Insight, but not quite match a Prius with a plug-in kit.
 

Last edited by Delta Flyer; 12-05-2006 at 03:18 PM.
  #3  
Old 12-05-2006, 03:14 PM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

Opps - had a big typo to correct at the end!
 
  #4  
Old 12-06-2006, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

Thank you for replying to my post. That and the links to related posts have given me a lot to learn and think about. Some of what you wrote also explained why my mileage went done after a recall quite sometime ago. Never understood what that was about as the letter from Honda Canada was unclear and I had never experienced the problems they referred to in it. BTW, what is the "dreaded recal"?
 
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Old 12-06-2006, 12:08 PM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

I've assumed that every Insight driver has looked at the dashboard during the recal and experienced the feeling of helplessness. The bar graph indicating the State of Charge, or SoC dips to maybe 60% of the bars (forgot - it's been awhile since it happened to me). At that point, the computer guesses (that's right a guess), it's time to recharge the battery pack, so for the next 15 minutes (longer if you are not cruising on the highway) a recal is done with a percepable loss of power and fuel economy. The SoC bar sinks and nothing will stop it. Then you get a trickle charge until the SoC is about 66% full.

If a recal happens every month or less, it's not much of a concern, but weekly would be.
 
  #6  
Old 12-06-2006, 12:28 PM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

Indeed, I have experienced this often. So that's the "dreaded recal". It would seem that neither of my recalls actually addressed this. While I'm having no battery problems yet on my 2000 Honda Insight, I am now in panic mode. Wish I had come to this, or any forum earlier. I have been living in blissful ignorance.

Which brings me to another question given the expense of replacement batteries. Do you know if the IMA can be simply disactivated (and the batteries removed) such that the vehicle can bop around town as a three cylinder ICE vehicle? It would be a travesty to junk it.
 
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Old 12-06-2006, 01:55 PM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

Check my PM.

I think a few people have actually pulled out battery packs from wrecked Insights and install them when they need a replacement, but please check with the sources I've mentioned, in this thread and the PM.

How often do you recal? If it's generally when you have pushed it, that's easy to correct, but if it happens even on moderate driving, that's a concern.
 
  #8  
Old 12-07-2006, 08:57 AM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

Thanks for your advice. I don't know that I have any immediate problems with my battery. If I get two more years out of it I would be satisfied. The recal never happens when I do highway driving. It does however happen when I do only city driving. How often? I don't exactly know because (hides head in shame) I didn't give it the attention that I should have. But I will play closer attention now.

There would be no wrecked Insights in this province. Only a few were ever sold and I purchased the first. My local dealership was not scheduled to receive an Insight back in 2000 but I contacted Honda Canada, managed to test drive one at a Honda convention by crashing it and arrangements were made.

Also any other dealerships would be at least a 1.5 hours drive away and they would have no experience with the Insight. My own dealership keeps asking me if I want to "upgrade" to another vehicle. I suspect they want to avoid the eventual replacement battery dilemma. I don't think they would pay for most of a new battery pack nor would they be willing to disabled the IMA. But it has not come up yet.
 
  #9  
Old 12-07-2006, 09:23 AM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

My experience is with an Insight in good condition, and you are a non-aggressive driver - recals seldom happen.

The most likely time I'd get a recal is driving aggressive on a hot summer day (95F or 35C). The A/C is on and I'm passing cars on the freeway, then endup in gridlock. Battery already weak, the stop-and-go is the final straw on excessive use of Assist and triggers the recal.

Ironically, winter weather and aggressive driving (if conditions permit) might trigger a recal.

Obviously you don't want to do recals if you can avoid them. Best thing is to remember to brake lightly to recharge the batteries, or downshift when slowing to a stop.
 
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Old 12-07-2006, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: Can the Honda Insight Be Upgraded With Plug-In Lithium Ion Batteries?

Jesse,

How many miles are on your Insight, and does Honda Canada give the same 150,000 mile (~240,000 km), 10 year battery warranty that we enjoy here in the States?

Also, if you have looked at Mike Dabrowski's site (99mpg.com) and If you are looking for a way to supress use of the battery, MIMA allows you to control your battery usage fully from all out, to no use at all. And then you still have the pack for use in emergencies and to start the car. I don't think pulling the battery out is a viable option unless significant modifications were made since the car has no alternator to charge the 12v battery.
My questions are: Is there any way lithium ion batteries could replace my nickel cadmium ones?
By the way, the Insight has Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries, better in some respects to Ni-Cd in case that affects your concerns about the battery pack at all.
 

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