From what I've learned, it seems that the Prius is the more
innovative of the two. The Insight is basically a gas motor with an
electric assist. It runs its little 3-cyclinder motor all of the time for
power, but when it needs more power, the electric assist kicks in for
higher speed or more acceleration. As Chuck pointed out, most of the
improvements come from non-drive train improvements (the good news is that
many of those improvements can be used in most cars). The Prius however,
is an electric motor with a gas generator. They treat the electric motor
as the prime drive train, and it has two sources of electricity: the
battery (charged by regenerative braking), and the gas motor (which runs at
a constant RPM, very efficiently, to generate extra electricity when the
motor needs it--like after about 15 mph). Of course, they both have many,
many innovations that are applicable to any vehicle (including an insulated
cabin and heat-reflecting glass--something that would be ideal for
Houston). It seems like the Prius, however, is more geared towards a
transition towards electric (switch the gas-powered generator for any other
generator: natural gas, fuel cell, etc.).
Exciting stuff. I'm planning on test driving them soon. Has
anybody done that yet?
At 02:32 PM 11/25/00 +0000, you wrote:
> > Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000 19:48:10 -0800
> > From: "David M. Eggleston" <dmeengr@...>
> > Subject: Re: Car that works with compressed air. Promote it in Houston?
> > Right, now I had to look up the proper name. It is the Toyota Prius:
> > See http://prius.toyota.com/
> > David
>And Honda's is the Insight, a little 2-seater.
>I recall a fact from a presentation by a Honda guy at last summer's
>ASES conference. The car, which gets upwards of 70 mpg,
>get most of its mileage improvement from techniques other than
>the innovative drivetrain: good aerodynamics, low rolling
>resistance tires, light weight, etc. Only about 15 percent
>(my vague recollection) came from the hybrid drivetrain.
>Remember that all of the energy to run the car comes from the
>gasoline motor. The hybrid system lets run it in a more efficient
>range most of the time, storing energy in a battery and pulling it
>out at an advantageous time. But, note that the storage/retrieval
>process will not be especially efficient (I would guess close to 50
>percent), so the times when it really helps will be limited.