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2/19/00: EV enthusiast takes InsightMan to task for being pro-gasoline

Hello John

I'm a John also, John wayland, and have enjoyed reading your Insight page. I do not want to offend you in any way, and hope you continue to write about your Insight experiences. I do feel compelled however, to ask you why you seem to be an anti EV person? You should watch your anit-plug, anti EV statements a bit, as it detracts from an otherwise excellent web page. Perhaps you aren't aware of how it sounds when you refer to 'plugs', but to me, it is an indication that you are a bit less savvy on pure electrics than you should be....examples:

From your 2-5-2000 entry, Our trip to Visit my mother-in-law:
>Maybe I'll just give up trying to explain the IMA system and tie a
>110-volt power cord with plug to the underside of 
>the car to trail behind it. People could understand that kind of 
>electric car more easily.

From your 'License Plates' page:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sure seems that by the two examples I've listed, you seem to be thrilled about the ability to NOT be able to be free from gasoline? For those of us that have been designing, building, driving, and racing pure EVs for some time now, it is a joy to be able to plug in anywhere we want, to recharge our EVs and be independent from gasoline. In the Pacific Northwest where I live, we get electric power from hydroelectric and wind....no petroleum needed, thank you.

It doesn't take a cord dangling from a car to get people to notice an EV. In fact, I don't know of any EV that I've ever seen, that had such a cord dangling, as you suggest.

  1. Being able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in a scant 4.7 seconds and being able to out-accelerate a new Vette in the 1/4 mile, does however, get many to notice one of my EVs ('72 electric Datsun 1200 1/4 mile drag car).
  2. Driving another one of my EVs (electric Toyota truck) daily at freeway speeds for 30-40 miles in my work commute does get many to notice this, my longer range EV (it can do 100+ miles at 60 mph).
  3. Taking yet another one of my EVs to exciting 'Car Wars' type stereo soundoff competitions and beating the gas cars, does get them to notice my EV ('72 Datsun 1200 show car featured in many magazines).

I'm glad you decided against the 'NOPLUG' plate, as it would have made you look a bit stupid...after all, this is something that all the other gas-powered cars can claim as well. Your Insight and all the other gasoline-dependent vehicles on the road can only wish that they could be recharged in the privacy of a home, and have the ability to run with zero emissions, silently and powerfully. I also bet that being located in Michigan, you wish your Insight had an instant-on, high output electric heater as do our EVs, as you sit and shiver waiting for the gas engine to warm up (this is something that Honda could have included in the Insight). As a sidebar...many of my EV friends located in various states across the country, have a fitting license plate that reads 'NO GAS'....now that's a plate that I bet your secretly wish you could put on your Insight!

In closing, just so you know....I too, will be joining the ranks of new Insight owners, as my Citrus Yellow beauty will be in my hands in another week or so. Much in contrast to how it may seem to you, I am pro-Insight, as it represents a big step forward in the evolution of the gas-powered car. I like its bold styling, light curb weight, its clean burning engine, its incredible gas mileage, its decent performance (thanks to an electric motor and batteries), and the fact that it should help educate others about the advantages of electric power.

John Wayland
dat1200 @europa.com
[note: remove anti-spam space before @ to use this address]

InsightMan's lengthy non-PC reply:

Thanks for visiting my web site and for your intelligent arguments.

Regarding the NOPLUG plate, I just received an e-mail from another prospective Insight owner who came up with this idea independently, before he saw my license plate suggestions. Maybe he'll reconsider when he sees your letter on my Feedback page.

I am definitely not an anti-EV person, I think you're being a little too sensitive here. As the staunchest EV proponent I've ever heard from, I can see how you might interpret my "dangling plug" comment as a knock against electric vehicles. No, I cannot tell how many times I've been asked how long it takes to recharge my Insight, it seems that, although more than I would have expected have heard of the Insight in my community, no one seems to understand the idea of a hybrid. The ruse of dangling a plug was JUST A JOKE! I thought a beat-up power cord dragging on the ground would be funny, but you didn't seem to get the joke part of it.

You have clearly structured most of your life in a way to get around the limitations of today's battery technology. Honda did its part with the EV Plus, showing GM how much better and practical an EV could be, but both cars are now discontinued. Maybe if California had given a $50,000 annual tax break to EV owners, these cars would still be sold, but this country isn't ready to make the kinds of sacrifices you have. Also, even if none of your power comes from nukes (true?) or coal, that is certainly not the case elsewhere.

Of course it is possible to construct an EV that can outdrag a Vette, but what if the Vette was designed to use it's entire fuel supply as fast as that EV dragster? Of course it is possible to design an instant-on heater in an electric car--as long as you don't mind stopping every few blocks (exaggeration) for a couple hours (exaggeration) to recharge.

A 100 mile range at 60 mph is impressive for an EV, but it's so far behind the 700-mile range of the Insight that the comparison seems useless. What I'm saying is that there is no comparison between the energy density of fossil fuels vs stored electric power at this time, as I'm sure you will fully agree. I'm no ecological purist by any stretch of imagination.

You wrote:
>Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sure seems that by the two examples
>I've listed, you seem to be thrilled about the ability to NOT be 
>able to be free from gasoline?

As horrible as it will sound to you, I'm actually happy to be alive while the fossil fuels are still around for us to enjoy. I pity the generations who will suffer from our spendthrift folly and am glad that I can do just a little bit to push back the end of the fossil fuel era by a couple of hours. It's not that I'm happy to NOT be able to be free from gasoline, it's that I'm happy that I can take full advantage of it without wasting it.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to drive 300 miles round trip to show my new car to my brother. Clearly, that's a waste of gas because he can see my new car on the web. Clearly, my desire to cruise around for hours at a time is a waste of gas and even a waste of some of the limited number of miles that my Insight will ever travel. I guess I'm just a typical American, using way more than my share of the limited resources our planet has been blessed with. But I'm so happy to be able to purchase something slightly more ecological by a company as wonderful as Honda, who was willing to take a huge hit by selling the Insight at a giant loss to see if anyone really cares.

I've gotten e-mail from people thanking me for saving the gas they will be burning in their hot-rod supercars. I'm glad you care enough to write and chastise me. The world and US in specific needs more 
people to think about our energy usage. By the way, do you ever get chastised by people who ride their bicycle to work?

You'll find the Insight heater fires up pretty quickly even though it doesn't work by making some wires glow red hot. Everyone who's suggested the changes they would have made if they were part of the Insight design team misses the main point: Honda went as far as it took to achieve a comfortable 70 mpg commuter automobile. They met their goal admirably in my opinion.

Have a great day and enjoy your Insight (even if it's yellow).

[John Wayland came back with a response to my response, effectively refuting all of my points except that he agrees there is no battery that can compete with the energy density of gasoline. Oh, and he refuses to accept my dangling power cord idea as anything resembling a joke.--InsightMan]