Living in the Past, Getting
Beat by the Future!
An editorial by John Wayland
Hello to all, I am once again, on the road on business, traveling by air and doing the usual car rental thing, but this trip is a bit more interesting, and I wanted to share a highlight with all of you.
As my travels had me going into Orange County, CA, I had originally made flight arrangements into John Wayne. As I have made it my policy to rent environmentally friendly vehicles whenever possible, I often rent from 'EV Rentals' who is associated with Budget Car Rental. While in Phoenix, I rent Insights as they do not offer pure EVs at this time, but since I was in southern CA, I looked into flying to LA instead of Orange County, as the EV Rental facility there has the largest choices of EVs and hybrids to choose from, and if possible, I wanted to rent an EV. As it turned out, I also saved my company some money with the less expensive Portland / LA round trip fare, as opposed to the Portland / Orange County trip fare.
The plan was, that I would drive the 45 miles or so from LA to Orange County. After my business was completed, the following day I had a meeting set up with a certain magazine who will be doing a feature story on 'Sniffer', my Honda Insight. That evening, I was to drive back to LA, return the EV1, hop on a plane to San Diego, and rent an Insight for my travels there (no pure EVs to rent there, either). Next, I would fly back to LA, then fly to Portland.
I had made all of the rental plans in advance with Gail Lee (she was extremely knowledgeable and helpful), so the folks at EV Rental in LA were expecting me. Arriving at the Budget facility, I was surrounded by EVs and hybrids.....there were Honda EV Pluses, EV1's, Insights, Priuses, and RAV4-EV's...they even had a the space alien green Insight on the lot! I was in EV heaven. I was treated like royalty by the nice folks at EV Rentals, and was even taken out to breakfast by their Director of Operations and Planning, Terry O'Day, where he and I talked about everything from air pollution to EV drag racing. As we talked, Terry suggested that I cancel my flight to San Diego, and instead, just keep the EV1 a few more days and drive it down instead....why not? With NiMH batteries, the EV1 has a 140 mile range!
I was turned over to Joe who walked me through the orientation procedure they take all EV renters through, and just like Gail and Terry, he too, was very friendly and well prepared. He knew I was an EV God, but I asked him to nonetheless, pretend that I was an average consumer who knew nothing about the EV1.
The beautiful baby blue EV1 had an estimated driving range of 115 miles displayed on the dash as Joe and I sat in the car. This represents what the car's computer has calculated (based on how previous drivers had driven the car) to be the range the next driver will get, if that next driver operates the car in the same fashion. This then represented 'the game' for me, that is, I HAD to beat that figure and get the estimated range to a higher level. As Joe explained to me, most drivers get from 10-12 miles per bar segment of the 10 segment 'Fuel gauge' display, so I also took this in as part of 'the game', and was determined to better that as well....after all, I am the 'EV God'!
All of the above quickly evaporated from my brain, because as I was being a good boy accelerating gently and driving in my 'range-oriented Clark Kent EV mode', I came to the 405 on-ramp. As I was driving up the ramp and onto the freeway, on my immediate left was a guy who had just rented a white V8 Mustang and he was looking over at my EV1 and smirking as though he thought the EV1 was a joke.
The on-ramp has two lanes that squeeze down to one, and after pacing along side me checking out the unusual car, he looked over at me, laughed a bit, and stepped down on the throttle, evidently thinking he was just gonna blow off that pesky, weirdo eeelektric car. I of course, had him all figured out and was expecting his macho move, and at the same instant that I heard his mighty V8 growl and dig in, I ripped open my shirt to reveal the big 'S' on my tight fitting under shirt, and punched the throttle hard.
It was great, because the pavement was smooth and shiny asphalt, and as the EV1 squealed its front tires at 30+ mph, one of the car's many dash-mounted 'idiot lights' flashed "Loss of Traction" (I kid you not). The 0-20 mph prowess of this AC powered car is just 'OK', but the thing comes alive after that and really gets with the program! No, the EV1 is not a muscle car, but it's 20-70 mph performance is pretty close to that level. With the front end shimmying as the front tires bit in, I rocketed in front and around the idiot on my left with ease.....what fun! I kept the pedal down as the little EV1 pulled hard right to 75 mph or so, then eased off and gently hit the brake pedal just enough to light up the brake lights so that the Mustang dude in hot pursuit could see my intentional slow down.
Sheepishly, he came around me on my left, looked over at me again, but this time simply shook his head in disbelief. I smiled, gave him a thumb's up (much better than that other hand gesture), and settled down to reasonable freeway cruising speed. I saw that the computer had been watching me, and the estimated range had dipped a few notches to 112 miles.....argghh! OK, time to go back into the Clark Kent routine...time to employ my usual high miles per charge techniques.
I switched off the coast-down (we EVers call this off-throttle regen) features, so that I could let the EV1 glide along on slight down hill runs without the car trying to slow down putting a small bit of juice back into the batteries (I'd save this feature for later, as when exiting the freeway and for congested traffic stop and go driving). As I cruised along at 58-66 mph, and as the miles went by, the estimated range figure began to grow....115, 116, 118...eventually hitting 125 miles. Forty some odd miles later, I took my exit, and ending up at my destination, I had traveled 45 miles, and just two of the bars had gone away on the 10 bar fuel gauge!
I parked the car and met with my contact people, who after learning I had driven an electric car to the site asked, "Why don't you pull around to the back area and use the electric car chargers?" Man, this was way cool! However, I was in for two surprises when I found the 'chargers'. The first surprise, was when I found that there was another EV1 at one of the stalls, a bright red one, and the second surprise, was when the 'chargers' turned out to simply be dedicated 120 vac outlets lined up on a brick wall with 'Reserved for Electric Vehicles Only' signs above each outlet for each of four stalls. This was true irony....allow me to explain.
Those of us in the EV community who have been designing, building, and driving our 'backyard built' EVs for the past 20 years (especially southern California EVers), were pretty excited when we learned that up to 200 EV charging stations were being set up to provide an EV charging infrastructure...what a great idea! We then really felt a rub, when we learned that most all of these sites would have a Magnacharger for the newest breed of EVers driving their GM EV1's and Toyota RAV4-EV's, but that 120 vac and 240 vac standard issue outlets for the rest of us, the EVers who had paved the way and paid their dues for years, had been left out of the picture.
Now, here I was, driving an EV1 and thinking how great it would be to find a Magnacharger at this work location waiting to refresh my EV1....imagine my surprise when I found that there were no Magnachargers, but instead, the elusive outlets we had been crying for. To add insult to injury, with the exception of the red EV1, I found three stink'n, gasoline burn'n, air pollute'n cars had hogged the EV spots! I slinked away in defeat and returned to the main parking lot with all the other cars, but this was no big deal since the EV1 still had the bulk of its charge left....thank you, NiMH batteries. Still, it would have been pretty neat to have driven from LA to Newport Beach and to have found a Magnacharger at the worksite. I told my friends in the building what I had found, and we laughed as I told them how I should have been driving a converted EV instead.
Later in the day, I was at my motel and hooking up to the Magnacharger (I booked myself into hotels that had chargers) which displayed a reading that reported 68% of the battery power was left, this, after traveling 47 mostly freeway miles. The EV1's 'Full-Empty' fuel gauge still had just two bars missing out of the ten. Today I will be putting more miles on the EV1, then after a recharge, will head south to San Diego. Having more fun than an EVer is allowed to have....
Wednesday morning I awoke in my room at the Atrium Hotel in Newport Beach, a very nice place adjacent to another nice place, the Orange County Hilton, where the EV1 had been left overnight at the Magna-charge EV refueling station.
I was excited, because on this day, I would have a fun freeway drive over to Anaheim where I would meet up with the magazine folks (sorry, they've asked that I keep which magazine it is a secret until just before the issue's release....hint, it is an autosound type, and my Silverstone Metallic Honda Insight gas/electric hybrid 'Sniffer' with its 750 watt Phoenix Gold-MB Quart sound system will indeed, grace the cover as the world's first hybrid soundoff car) to discuss the upcoming article.
The charger was indicating that my baby blue electric steed was raring to go, fully charged, and ready to respond to my Wayland ways. Speaking of Wayland ways....because of my antics on the way back to the hotel Tuesday evening, as well as when I went out for a Chinese dinner, both the charger and the car's 'Range' meter indicated an estimated driving range for the topped-off battery pack of 105 miles...even less than the original 115 mile estimated range I saw when I first picked up the car Tuesday morning from EV Rentals. I guess that showing off to those young guys in the Lexus on Von Karman Avenue, plus the bodacious tire squealing launch (sometimes the traction control gives up on trying to keep me in line) for the benefit of the guy in the lowered Honda, when at a light on Michelson Drive out his window he asked if the car had any guts, had taken their toll and the car's computer had gotten to know me.
No worries mate (love that Aussie lingo)...It was a new day and another chance to redeem myself. I took it pretty easy on the way to the lunch meeting, partly because I was trying to convince the computer that I really could be a model citizen, and partly because I was unfamiliar with where I was going and had a specific set of hand-written directions I was constantly looking at.
My diligence paid off, and after 20 miles or so of mostly freeway driving, when I arrived at my destination the range meter reported that 99 miles of driving was still available...that was just 6 miles less then the beginning total of 105. It's weird how this gauge works, as even though it estimates how many 'miles per charge' you will get based on the average current draw over time (including the time before the last charge), it also counts down and reports the miles left and available as you drive along (as it did on my first day as I saw it actually increasing as I drove along with a very light throttle). Thus, it is possible for the estimated range per charge to grow as you drive along if you are driving at very light current loads, and conversely, if you drive like a madman (who, me?) you will see the gauge plummet to ever lower numbers as it recalculates the estimated miles per charge.
The meeting with the magazine guy could not have gone better. He had never ridden in an EV, much less an EV with as much spunk as the EV1 posses, and when he asked how well it accelerated (this after he had also told me how he is 'into' import drag racing), I couldn't hold back. I planted my foot down as we rounded a corner and the EV1's induction motor spun up instantly as the Michelins lost their grip (again) and screeched in protest.....his response, "Geezzzzzzz!!! Oh my gawd!!!"
After some killer Mexican food and intense conversation over lunch, we returned to the business tower where on the 11th floor, I had the ear of many top magazine execs as we talked hybrids, EVs, car stereo, EV drag racing, etc. I had to take one of them back down and out of the building to give him a test ride in the EV1....so much for Plasma Boy, model citizen. With their enthusiastic permission, the EV1's traction control was again put to the test, and with those poor front tires screaming in protest and the 'range per charge' meter shaking its finger at me, I resurfaced the front driveway, and a couple of blocks out on the street with a thin film of black rubber.
As I'm doing this, while the magazine exec next to me is living it up and hollering uncontrollably, inside my brain I'm thinking, "Hmmmm, I've gotta drive 90 miles or so after this, all the way down to just north of San Diego, and here I am, bleeding off electrical power like a Ford Excursion sucks gas." On the other hand, I also knew of a certain Magna-charger back in Newport Beach that could put it all back. in short order.
It was near 4:00 PM when I finally left, and the EV1's dash told me I had squandered my charge down to just 87 miles availability (listen to me, after just two days with a NiMH powered EV1, I now think of this kind of range as 'just 87 miles'). I reverted to an easy driving style again, and cruised along the freeway in the slow lane at around 58 miles per hour to keep the current draw to a minimum.
Arriving back at the Hilton, I had added another 41 miles to the car's trip odometer for the round trip, and I had now racked up a total of 98.2 miles since I picked the car up at EV Rentals. By taking it easy, I managed to keep the range per charge meter from dipping too low, and it now indicated that 79 miles were still in the tank. At 4:30 PM, I hooked up the paddle, and with the 'time to full' shown to be 2 hours 5 minutes, figured that I could leave for San Diego at 6:30 PM. I went inside the Atrium Hotel, settled in at the bar for a coke and a cheese & fruit plate, and had some lively discussions with other patrons about EVs and the whole EV Rental thing.
At 6:00 PM I took in Al Gore's "every vote must count (unless they're for George)...love them pregnant chads...I'm outa here to fix horse fences" speech, then afterwards, returned to the EV1. At 6:30 PM, 2 hours since first going on charge per the charger's estimate, I was a bit surprised to see that the EV1 was still taking on juice with a not-yet-full reading of '87% full' displayed, so I sat inside the car and allowed the NiMH batteries to suck in even more juice as I perused the EV Rental 'charger sites' notebook.
The batteries hit the full mark at 7:00 PM and the car's range meter displayed that 120 miles were available. In the early night, a weather front had moved in and it had turned from mild daytime temperatures in the mid sixties, to a pretty cold (for southern California), barely 50 degrees, though this was still the banana belt compared to what was going on back in iced-up Portland!
If this had been a lead acid powered machine, I would have been worried about reduced range due to cold batteries, but I was comforted knowing that those NiMH guys would be happy campers in the cold. Still, the forecasted low was for the low 40's , and I had some higher elevations to pull on my way south and I knew I would have to use the car's heat pump to keep warm. Would I need to stop along the way for a drink at a Magna-charger, or would this remarkable EV take me all the way from Orange County to San Diego County? With George W. speaking to me through the not-so-space age EV1 sound system, I was off for a longer range adventure.
I brought the EV1 up to 58 mph on the 405 freeway, but when I split over to I-5 South, I nudged the speed up to 70-72 mph to keep up with the traffic flow. With George W. telling me he was gonna keep his promises, the cabin was fogging up and it was a bit chilly, so as planned, I turned the heater/defroster on then waited.....and waited....and waited for some semblance of warmed air to flow from the vents. It took a very long 15 minutes before any appreciable heat could be felt...come on GM, how about a good 'ol ceramic element, at least for some instant warmth?...it could later be backed off when the heat pump got going.
About 20 miles down the freeway, I was finally feeling pretty good heat, but I had to keep the temp selector on high for about a half hour. Finally, I had to back it off to about midway to keep things comfortable inside my electric cocoon. Tired of the political game, I found some pump'n rock on the FM groove to keep me entertained; for such a high tech car, it's stereo is lack luster. Oh well, at least I had some tunes to listen to. After an hour of continuous 70+ mph freeway cruising that included quite a bit of hill climbing (nothing really steep), and with the heat pump using juice the entire time, and with the car's multitude of fans, pumps, and lights all getting in on the current gig, I was astounded to see that the range meter still showed 79 miles left, this, after having gone more than 70 miles!
To make a long story short (is that possible with a Wayland adventure?), I never even came close to needing an in-between charge. I even screwed up and missed a freeway exit, and this blunder cost me quite few extra miles, but even so, as I rolled into the La Jolla Hyatt Regency hotel, a massive structure built to accommodate the well heeled (what was I doing there?), at close to 9:00 PM, and after an hour and forty five minutes of continuous driving (a pretty steady drain of those NiMH batteries) the EV1's odometer registered 183.2 miles....I had traveled 85 miles while running all the lighting and heating for all that time, without the car breaking a sweat!
I drove the car into the huge and impressive valet/courtyard area that was lined with maybe twenty, forty foot-tall palms with white Christmas lights spiraled up their slender trunks. I maneuvered the futuristic looking EV1 along side the ritzy BMW's, Mercede's, Porches, and Vettes that were already staged for the proper effect for their owners, and so I too, parked my ride where it could be seen by all.
Just as I had figured, by the time I was getting out of the cozy cockpit, there was an immediate gathering of the well dressed night life crowd, and they were very interested in the electric car that had arrived to crash the party! My getup of blue jeans, polo shirt, and my nifty magazine-logoed baseball cap added to the effect, I'm sure.
There was intense interest in the EV1, and suddenly, no one cared about the 'Benz next to it, and they didn't notice the jet black Acura RL, either....it was the electric car that had stolen everyone's hearts and interest! After a 15 minute show and tell, one of the bell boys was twitching with excitement, so I looked at him and said, "Well, get in!" As we silently moved out of the limelight and past a stately looking valet dude, I asked if it would cause any problems if I 'hit it' as I pulled out. His response? "No sir, no problem, please have fun...enjoy yourself."
With the small crowd watching,, I wondered how much zip would be left after driving 85 miles for nearly two hours, but when I turned out of the courtyard and slammed the 'Go' pedal down, the tires instantly sang that familiar song, the 'Loss of traction' light lit up, and the bell boy and I were off for a quick ride around the block! When we returned, my passenger got out and immediately started to rave about the fast electric car...this certainly lifted the eyebrows of the BMW fold. One guy spouted off with, "Yeah, but you really can't go anywhere in one of those without running out of power...aren't you worried about getting stranded?" My response..."Well, I've just driven down from Orange County, and because I got a bit turned around with my directions, I've driven for nearly two hours straight to get here. I didn't get stranded, and the car still has plenty of power left, enough to blow off any one of these pollutionmobiles."
This brought a bit of laughter out from some, but this dude kept going with, "Yeah, but where are you going to plug it in now?" My response..."Well, if you'd step aside, I'll be driving it down there around the corner and into the parking garage, where my EV parking spot awaits me. Once there, I'll slip in the charge paddle, let the charger's computer take over, and walk away to get settled down in my room. By the way, I drove here without using a drop of fuel, without making any pollution, and will now charge the car up for free as my reward for doing so....how much did your last tank of fuel cost you, and what are you doing to help keep our air breathable?
Surrounded by snickers, he gave up.
Thursday morning after I had checked out of the Hyatt, when I arrived at the Magna-charger, I was a bit alarmed that someone had removed the charge paddle from the slot in the EV1's nose and had neatly tucked it away back inside the charger's paddle cradle. I pulled the paddle back out and inserted it to see what had gone on in the night, to see if this was someone's idea of a joke, or if someone had thought they were helping me out over worries of an overcharge (not possible with this sophisticated charger). The charger's digital display told me that 97% of the charge had been returned to the batteries, and that there was 10 minutes left of charging 'time to full'. I surmised that perhaps an overzealous valet attendant had been, well, 'attending' the EV1 and probably thought they were doing me a favor.
It was time to leave, time to head east, then north up a good incline, towards Rancho Bernardo to the work site. The EV1's odometer indicated just shy of 184 miles, and the range meter told me that I had 127 miles possible range. In spite of my late night aggressive run with the bell boy, the sedate 85 mile drive down from Orange County to La Jolla had caused the computer to reconsider my previously harder driving style, and it had arrived at this new, more optimistic estimated range figure.
It was about a 20 mile drive to Rancho Bernardo, and with no on site charging in the plans, I parked the EV1 and reported to work. If all had gone well, by the day's end, I would be headed further north where I'd give my electric horse a drink at the Magna-charger trough, courtesy of Saturn of Escondido. However, all did not go well with my workday, and I found myself making overnight arrangements so that I could return a second day to complete the job.
I drove back to the Hyatt Regency in the early evening, and slipping the charge paddle into the slot once again, the charger started to replenish what approximately 40 miles of driving had subtracted....the odometer read 224.4 miles. A while later, I drove away for a quick dinner break, and so added a few miles to the total before putting the car back on charge and retiring for the night.
Thursday morning it was check out time again, and as I squared up my bill for the second night's stay, I noticed I had been charged an additional $13 for parking charges. When I politely asked about the charges and told them that the only reason I had used their parking garage, was to gain access to the Magna-charger, they quickly apologized and removed the charges....I had been told ahead of time, that parking was free for electrics!
Punching in the startup code (the EV1 has no conventional ignition or door lock key) and awakening the car, the range meter indicated 125 miles, and the odometer was at 228.2 miles. As before, it was pretty much all an uphill pull to the Rancho Bernardo location where I needed to complete my job duties, and as I arrived the odometer showed 247.5 miles, while the range meter indicated there was still 102 miles in the tank. This time the job went according to plan and I was finished in time to make a short drive north to Escondido where I figured I'd top off the charge and have a late lunch.
On my way to the freeway, I stopped at a full service type gas station where they had a handy air/water station. I checked the EV1's high pressure Michelin Proxima LRR tires, and found that they were all below the 50 psi GM suggests, and so I pumped them up accordingly, two of them took nearly 15 lbs. of air! I wondered how much better this EV that was already getting terrific range, could do. My hybrid Honda Insight really responded to running higher air pressure levels in its LRR Bridgestone RE92 tires, so I was curious to see what difference I would find in the EV1's range per charge performance.
I began my official trip back towards LA, with the stop in Escondido along the way for a top-off charge before the long drive back to EV Rentals. Heading the extra miles to Escondido, the elevation continued to rise. It was 1:15 PM when I got to the Saturn dealer, and the odometer read 258.2 miles while the range per charge meter was down to 74 miles. I had only put about 30 miles on the car since starting out in the morning from La Jolla, but the uphill freeway pulls had drawn heavier than average currents and the computer figured this was how things might continue, so it reduced the estimated range.
I was greeted by Andrea McLean and I found her to be well informed about EV1's, Magna-chargers, and the state of the EV1 in today's market. She informed me that one could still order and get an EV1, whether it was a refurbished Gen I model, a Gen II lead acid model, or a Gen II NiMH model. She and her associates were quite friendly towards me, and after showing me to the Magna-charger (it reported that the batteries were 72% full) , they even gave me a desk where I could run my computer and check emails while the EV1 was on charge. The charger had estimated that it the would take 1 hour, 20 minutes to fill the batteries back up, so this seemed like a great time to have lunch. I walked a short distance away to the restaurant, Mexican, of course, and enjoyed my Tamale, rice, and bean meal. After stuffing myself full, I returned to a nearly full car as well, and at 3:15 PM with the pack at 97% full, I considered it close enough, removed the paddle, and left for the longest stretch back to LA.
Leaving Escondido on highway 78, the range meter indicated 119 miles were available. This wide open freeway was slightly downhill for several miles, and as I drove along at minimum current levels, the computer kept refiguring the estimated range. With 270 total miles on the odometer, the range per charge estimate had actually risen to 130 miles. As I cruised along seemingly effortlessly (a combination of the level and smooth freeway and the higher tire pressures), even though I was racking up more miles on the odometer, the range meter continued to upgrade with even higher range estimates...136, 142, 143.....to a high of 145 miles, this, after driving a little over 20 miles since leaving Escondido!
With approximately 100 more miles to cover before reaching my destination, I had planned to stop along the way for a charge if needed, but with a heady 145 miles of estimated range left, thoughts of opportunity charging faded away. I crossed the 308 mile mark on the odometer, and having traveled exactly 50 miles at freeway speeds, the NiMH pack was taking it all in stride with 101 miles of estimated range still in the tank! Twenty seven miles later, I had gone nearly 80 miles and was flying past Newport Beach at 80 mph with an estimated range of 90 miles still left, down just 4 bars on the fuel level gauge!
The fun of those higher speeds suddenly went away as I entered into a full-on traffic jamb near John Wayne International, and I had to pull back the reins and slow down to a crawl. After a few miles of stop and go driving (EVs love this sort of thing), I remembered that sticker affixed to the butt of the EV1 that read '<> Access OK, Clean Air' that allowed me to use the HOV lane.
In seconds, I had found my way into the special purpose lane, and was once again, cruising along at a good clip. At 348 miles on the odometer, I had traveled 90 miles when the fuel gauge dropped to half at 5 bars, but there was still an estimated 61 miles left...this while averaging 75 mph or so. Even when I had crossed over the 100 mile mark, the car was still full of power, and the lightest dip of the throttle would bring an immediate power rush forward as if I had only driven a few miles.
At almost exactly 110 miles since I left the Saturn dealership, I had pulled off the freeway and was on Century Drive, stopped at a traffic light near EV Rentals. The EV1 had been flying along for about an hour and a half at 70-80 mph speeds, and had never once felt like it was running short on power. I noticed that there was an estimated 36 miles left on the range meter, so when the light went green, I decided to see what was left as I planted my right foot down one last time.....screeeeechhhh....,chirp-chirp.....scrreeechh....damn that traction control! What an EV! After running along at freeway speeds for so long, and after 110 miles, the thing could still fry the tires at will!
I reluctantly pulled into the EV Rental lot and finding a Magna-charger, parked my electric friend and slipped the charge paddle into its nose.....29% battery left! And so ended my four day love affair with the Gen II EV1...one terrific electric car.
It's a shame GM has to put their negative spin on this wonderful achievement, and its a shame the rest of the world can only dream of having such a beauty to drive everyday. While the naysayers are still out there telling everyone electrics don't work, the EV1 continues to deliver 0-60 in the mid sevens and 130-160 miles range per charge. So, how do I sum this all up?
(1) Great acceleration performance! (It eats Insights, Priuses, and BMWs for
breakfast, lunch, and dinner.)
(2) 130-160 mpc range
(3) Great handling
(4) Great braking
(5) Futuristic space ship styling
(6) Intimate cabin with futuristic controls
(7) The digital dash gauges (not the dash pod as a whole) are wonderful and easy to read, once you've taken your eyes off the road and have looked over to the middle of the car.
(7) Advanced, automated, and easy to use charger setup
(1) Horrible 'takes longer to warm up than an ICE' heater system
(2) Funky, uninspired steering wheel (it needs the wonderful Momoesque wheel of an Insight)
(3) Cheesy sounding stereo with overpowering rear speakers that like the front ones, sound bad.
(4) Though I love the look and effect of the console switches and controls, the ergonomics are pretty bad, with important switches almost impossible to get to.
(5) Central dash located gauge pod is about as bad as that in the Prius...it belongs in front of the driver!
(6) Get rid of that traction control and let me have my way with those tires!
Conclusion? I want one!!!!!!!