Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Since I have an Insight and people ask about it, I thought I'd post some general information about our experience so far. I got this car in 2000, recieving state and federal tax breaks, and it currently has 175,000 miles on it. The vehicle is a 2-seater that weighs 1,887 lbs. We have maintained larger cars for family requirements, so this has been used as a commuter in the Balt/DC, western PA, and WA state areas.
Miliage varies depending on terrain and maintenance. The lowest has been 49 mpg, the highest average 62 mpg. I was getting 49 mpg in western PA where the terrain is very hilly, there's a lot of snow, and where I needed to repair an O2 sensor and some other items that were bringing miliage down. The overall average has been between 59 and 62 mpg. I have a heavy foot as well, but if a driver follows speed limits, for example, then miliage goes up just like with any vehicle.
The car drives and maintains like any gas car. It has a 3 cylinder gas engine and an electric engine that pulls energy from a battery. The battery is powered by friction/heat energy captured from the front axle when the car slows down in gear, so the electric is all free power that is otherwise wasted as friction/heat. Maintenance can go every 7,000 miles, but I take it in every 3,500 or so. Oil change costs the same as other cars, and it uses synthetic oil.
As far as speed, I can merge into traffic with ease since the Insight accelerates very rapidly, and I can cruise smoothly at high rates of speed. I’ve driven tens of thousands of miles on the Baltimore and DC beltways, up and down I-95 on the east coast, and on I-5 in WA, and have excellent performance at speeds up to and exceeding 85 mph. Many small cars shimmy and sway over a certain speed and I’ve not found that with the Insight.
After 175,000 miles, I’ve had one major repair on the Insight, the replacement of the large battery above the rear wheels. To Honda’s credit and my pleasant surprise, the manufacturer replaced this battery free of charge. The replacement came when the vehicle was at 130,000 miles. Many critics site battery replacement as a major hurtle to buying a hybrid, however at 130,000 miles this car had already outlived my three previous vehicles. Therefore, even if I had chosen not to repair the battery, the Insight would still have beaten the best of my previous three cars by over 25,000 miles. On all three previous cars, engines eventually died and were either replaced or the car was scrapped. So, a person has the option of simply trading the car in or scrapping it when the battery fails, or repairing it like they would a transmission, engine, or other major problem that so many cars have as they approach/exceed 100,000 miles.
Complaints are mostly directed at the interior. The seats are nothing like, say a VW Passat's, and they can hurt your back on long rides or day after day. Also, the interior is a bit on the cheap side. But that's about it. Overall, I'm glad I bought and will drive it as long as I can or until I can afford something that performs better.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Read the press release here and think about supporting these guys if you need a new drive.
Friday, July 25, 2008
They have launched two new web sites to communicate information, one for transportation, called MOVE, located here http://move.rmi.org/
and another one called Built Environment Team (BET) that I have to research before I post on, but it's here http://bet.rmi.org/
More on both later.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
So I remember hearing that platic bags are harmul a number of years back and thought, "Whatever," because what the hell can you do? Well, I still don't know what to do, but I'm thinking about it for a few reasons.
One is the numbers. 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually, and they end up everywhere. They're also filling up landfills. That tied in with this PPT that I'm sure many of you have seen, that I got from my sister last week, located here: http://www.mobilebaynep.com/site/Forefront/TheDangersofPlasticBags.pdf
After I viewed that, I remembered that, in the Pacific Ocean, there is a floating island of plastic and trash that is estimated to be twice the size of Texas. That's frickin' big. Texas takes a long time to drive across going 80 mph. Imagine that times two, floating around in the damn ocean. I can barely imagine it. More on that here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch and another good article here http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/10/19/SS6JS8RH0.DTL&type=politics The crazy thing is that nobody has photographed this thing, or at least I can't find any pics easily.
So, all those things added up in my head, and now I'm going to look for, select, and implement and substitute for disposable food shopping bags. Then I'll post an update here.
Folks are switching back to paper because that recycles better, so for now that's a start, but I'm wondering about bags you take to the store and use over and over. I think I'll start by looking at hemp bags.
The other side says oil is $4/gallon and rising, and we need to explore alternative sources of energy. There is not a lot of substance on this side of the argument either, but it has this general flavor to it of some sort of new direction.
One thing that’s interesting is that, no matter which side you’re on, you can see there is not much in favor of oil. At one time, it was a great energy source, back when it was cheap and plentiful and safe to acquire. Now, it’s expensive and getting more so, it threatens U.S. national security on multiple levels, it’s damaging our environment, and on top of that the supply is running out. Also, an oil economy keeps new jobs stagnated, except any created for new offshore oil rigs.
But it seems to me that the debate, like so many debates in this country, is about the wrong aspect of the problem. The question to me seems to be “Do we want more oil?” and based on what I can see, we really don’t. What’s the point? Since supply is limited, we’ll be here again X years from now. And it’s obvious that we’re throwing money away when it comes to oil security spending, and in fact are spending billions to chip away at our nations’ security over the course of decades, and of course speeding up with the latest Iraq war.
The debate should really be about effective transportation that provides more benefit than loss. It should be about increasing national security instead of eroding it. It should be about creating new jobs, new technologies, and a new international competitive edge for the U.S., instead of continuing to retard that growth.
I’ll post more on this topic as far as solutions.