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2/21/00: EV enthusiast's brief (1,415 word) life story and plans for going deaf

I suppose that by now, most everyone on this great web page has read my response to Insightman, where I took him to task over what seemed to me to be anit-EV comments. Insightman is a very nice fellow, and though we did a bit of sparring over a few points, it should only be taken as differing points of view. Perhaps there will come a day when he sheds his training pants and like a big boy, he'll be potty trained and ready for a pure Electric :-)

I am a true electric vehicle fanatic, and currently have four EVs all designed and built by me. Two of these are show cars and mostly used for demonstrating that EVs can be exciting and fun. One of them, 'Blue Meanie', a restored '72 Datsun 1200 sedan with violet pearl over royal blue paint, has been displayed at countless EVents around the western US for many years, and has been featured in too many magazines to list. I enjoy driving this short range high performance 2340 lb. 150 hp pocket rocket, and it's my favorite EV that I drive mostly in the nicer weather of the spring and summer months. My other electric show vehicle 'Purple pHaze', is a classic and immaculately-restored '66 Datsun minitruck that is still being prepped for this year's schedule of car shows. Painted Welch's grape jelly purple, this is a direct drive, rear engine EV with a V8 subwoofer under the hood, 1500 watts of audio power, a remote controlled electric tilt bed, and 24 Optima Yellow Top batteries connected with gold plated hardware. My daily driver used for my work commute and for most all of my other driving needs, is a '95 Toyota XtraCab pickup packed with a whopping 2500 lbs. of batteries...it is capable of cruising at 60 mph for 100+ miles. Perhaps my most specialized EV is 'White Zombie', my electric 1/4 mile drag  car. This is a second '72 Datsun 1200 sedan, and packed with 336 volts of Genesis batteries, it has 200+ hp and 500 ft. lbs. of axle-shearing torque...it is raced to help further dispel the notion that EVs are slow, dull, and boring. In addition to these four EVs, I also have an electric garden tractor with 3-D holographic paint, flames on the hood, and a 144 watt stereo system (full blown type with a subwoofer and CD-changer). Three electric scooters complete the Wayland EV lineup.

I have had a change in my work situation in the past 6 months, that finds me traveling by air quite a bit, but when I am at home in the Portland metro area, I sometimes have to cover fairly large distances as I call on our customers. As such, for these occasional long one-day trips (150-300 miles), I have been borrowing my wife's gas car. Though my electrics have served me very well for nearly all of my personal driving needs, long range driving isn't their strong point, and I needed a solution.

I considered building my own electric/gas hybrid based on an all wheel drive Subaru. This would be a pretty simple exercise to accomplish....leave the 4 cylinder engine/transmission up front, disconnect the driveline that leads to the rear differential, and mount a strong DC motor (fed by a solid state speed controller) in the rear of the car and connected to the input flange of the differential. A small (in comparison to heavier battery packs of pure EVs) 572 lb. battery pack comprised of 13 Optima maintanence-free lead acid batteries could yield a silent and pollution-free city driving range of 25-30 miles, and an on-board charger would allow the car to be recharged from any standard 120 vac or 240 vac outlet (are you listening Honda?). When longer range was needed, the gas engine up front would drive the front wheels and also feed juice to the battery pack. For terrific passing power, hill climbing ability, or exhilarating acceleration fun, both the gas engine (130 hp) and the DC motor (150 hp) could be used at the same time, giving nearly 300 hp of 4 wheel drive thrust!

Wishful thinking aside, I have very little spare time at present to devote to yet another EV project, and with my electric drag racing schedule fast approaching, any time available needs to go towards improving my race car.

I therefore considered a simpler route, that being the purchase of a conventional gas-powered car to fill in for these work-related trips. I prefer small cars (as evidenced with my two small Datsun 1200 sedans), and was thinking of a fume-sniffer type high mileage car, such as a Metro. It was during this gasoline-fueled thought train that the idea hit me...Honda's new Insight! Being an EV addict and being connected to all things EV-related, I was aware of this hybrid from Honda and have followed its development for some time. I had driven Honda's pure electric car, the 'EV Plus', at an EV symposium more than a year before its introduction, and way back then, there was talk of a planned hybrid car. I was not keen on the idea, as it meant a departure away from Honda's pure electric program.

The Insight is a gas car, not an electric car, and without the ability to run as a pure EV (Honda actually boasts that it never can be plugged in), I had little interest in it. However, as I have already outlined, I have recently found myself in need of a good, clean running, efficient gas car, so I took another look at the Insight. I think that what tipped the scales in favor of an Insight, was its trick-looking wind-cheating design, and the electric car stuff it uses to get such impressive acceleration (for a car that gets 70 mpg), great fuel economy, and low level pollution numbers. After all, it DOES have an electric motor for powerful low end torque, it DOES have techno-cool NiMH batteries, it DOES have regen braking, and it DOES have that idle stop feature where it at least mimics an electric. If I have to get a gas car, at least in the Insight, I can enjoy its technological design, get outstanding gas mileage, and can feel good that it is the cleanest burning gas car in the world. There is another advantage...since this is a limited production high profile car as the first hybrid on sale in America, and since I know that everywhere I take it there will be interested folks asking all kinds of questions, I can take that opportunity to spread the pure electric gospel, while I also talk up the merits of Honda's terrific gas car.

My new Insight should be in my hands in another week, and I already have plans to make it the only competing hybrid soundoff car in the world, with sponsorship from some of the big players in the autosound world likely to come my way. The first thing to go will be that factory AM/FM Cassette unit, and in its place, a beautiful JVC ‘Chameleon’ in dash CD head unit. Though I am not personally concerned about Honda's self-imposed weight limit restrictions on this car, in keeping with the car's ultralight theme, I plan on using weight-saving techniques in my sound system's design. As one example, instead of using a conventional heavy wood enclosure and massive driver for the subwoofer design, I will be using Illusion Audio's high tech 15 inch sub that has a lightweight resin frame, an inverted high strength but very light weight neodynium magnet, and a feather light graphite fiber cone. Instead of a heavy conventional class AB car amp that weighs in at 15-20 lbs., I will use a small but powerful 7 lb. class D digital switching sub amplifier. And since the optional factory rear speakers are pretty much useless and placed in just about the worse location possible for good up-front imaging, Ill pass on them, save the weight, and use killer MB Quart coaxials up front in the factory lower door location for brilliant crisp high end sound. These full range drivers are also made from light weight composite materials, and even have ultralight titanium tweeters that sound oh-so-sweet!

I'll keep the Insightman’s feedback list posted on my experiences with my new ride, and the fun I will have setting up its new sound system. I appreciate the already great reports from others, keep them coming.

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

[Dear John, the limited storage space on my $5/month web server will severely limit the number of responses I can post if they're this lengthy. I'll probably edit this one to just your Insight plans after others have had a chance to read it. Also, I should warn you that the Insight's 12-volt system is cut as close to the bone as the 365-pound load limit. The Owner's Manual says of the accessory power socket, "This socket is intended to supply power for 12 volt DC accessories that are rated 120 watts or less (10 amps). It will not power an automotive type cigarette lighter element." And you'll void your warranty if you attach a trailer to carry the batteries you'll need to power your soundoff competitor.--InsightMan]