• Sep 5th 2009 at 6:22PM
  • 24

Ever heard of the Insight 1G? Sounds like the name of a first generation of the high-efficiency hybrid, right? It is, but the twist here is that the 1.0-liter, 70 hp gasoline engine has been swapped out in favor of a oil-burning 1.2L PD TDI from Volkswagen, specifically the Lupo 3L. How does the diesel swap make the car run? Excellent, says the Red Light Racing team's website. In fact, they claim they're getting 80 mpg without the hybrid portion of the powertrain in operation (It appears the team is using a manual Insight, which was rated at 53 mpg combined, by the EPA). They expect a further fuel economy boost of around 15 to 20 percent once the bugs in the engine signal translator are worked out.

Speaking of bugs, the conversion hasn't exactly been easy, and the team has set up a list of technical difficulties (and solutions) here. Jake Staub, the team's lead engineer, told AutoblogGreen that, "The main idea was to take existing hardware, hack it, and make a vehicle that could be produced by major manufacturers or individuals that would deliver tremendous fuel economy without a tremendous leap in technology. I believe we succeeded." Do you agree?

[Source: Red Light Racing]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Did you know that this isn't a clean diesel, like the latest VW offerings but an old, non emissions controlled one?

      Actually it did have emissions controls in the original car that met the emissions standards of it's time. This included high precision fuel injection, an EGR system, and a Catalatyic converter. It's no clean diesel but it did come with emissions regulation systems and met it's emissions standards where it was sold.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Judging the above comments, did anyone read the website of redlightracing? The goal is to make a diesel-electric HYBRID. The fuel consumption will be 90 mpg city / 110 mpg highway (estimated). CO2 emissions: 63 g/km and to top it off it will comply with the Tier II Bin 5 Emission standards!

      This was just the first run. When the team is finished it will be one of the best hybrids ever.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That engine will never meet T2B5. They're going to have to swap again.

        And I'll tell you what, I'll congratulate them for reaching these brag figures when they reach these brag figures. In EPA-style testing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "When the team is finished it will be one of the best hybrids ever."

      A turbine-hybrid would be the best really... and could run on hydrogen, ethanol, gas, diesel, veggie oil, etc... Turbines are more efficient at constant speeds than piston engines (linear explosion, little to no friction, very few moving parts), so I would assert that the 'ultimate hybrid' has already been built...

      Volvo did a gas-turbine hybrid concept in the 1990s. It was called the "Environmental Concept Car" or some such (they tend to have very bland names for their concept cars). It was a serial hybrid, as I recall, not a parallel like the Prius and Escape. The turbine was used to drive a generator that produced the electricity.


      • 6 Years Ago
      Hey bone heads, you obviously don't get the point of what they did.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Theyve proven that you can spend $4000 to save $1000

        • 6 Years Ago

        Its already been done. A decade ago.


        The OEMs decided the benefits were outweighed by the cost.

        Even in Europe and Japan, where fuel is far more expensive and diesel emmission regulations are less severe, OEMs have come to the same conclusion.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm thinking the point was somebody likes that diesel rattle and vibration and possibly they want to test out how tight all the dash screws are.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So they put a Lupo 3L engine in a more aerodynamic body and get a little more MPG than a Lupo would get.


      There is a guy with a ZX2 like mine that put on more aero pieces and fuel cut offs for pulse and burn savings. He gets 100MPG+ tanks with a 2.0L gas engine. I get about 25mpg.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Geez... I love the idea, but my GF's VW is a wreck as far as reliability and service are concerned. We were actually thinking of having her father's company (he's a CEO for a detroit firm that prototypes cars like Aston's and the Ford GT) swap out the drivetrain, engine, etc. for something from Honda or Toyota to make it more reliable.

      Putting a VW engine in a Honda? It might be more efficient, but now it will need an extra $2000 in repairs every year...lol.
      • 6 Years Ago
      You could make 80mpg on an Insight just through careful driving. It would be better to see this tested with EPA-style tests to see how the mpg really compares.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Lupo 3L tdi requires clean diesel and produces 81g of CO2/km compared to 114 g/km for the Prius. In 2000 VW drove a Lupo around the world in 80 days, covering 24,000 miles and averaging 99 mpg at a respectable avg. speed of 53 mph.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A hybrid system does the following for a gasoline engine:
      1. Prevents the gas engine from wasting gas idling.
      2. Reduces the amount of part throttle operation.
      3. Allows the use of an Atkinson cycle by providing low speed torque.
      4. Recovers energy through regenerative braking.

      A diesel engine, however, uses much less fuel while idling, suffers from no throttling loss, and cannot be converted to Atkinson cycle.

      So, the addition of a hybrid system is not as helpful to a diesel drivetrain. It provides regenerative braking and little else. (Of course, in a very large,heavy vehicle that does a lot of stop/go such as a bus or trash truck, regenerative braking is huge - that is why GM/Allison built the two-mode for such vehicles)

      Of course, the Insight will get impressive gas mileage anyway, due to the excellent aerodynamics, low rolling resistance tires, and low weight.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You're right on all of these points, but you're missing a few very important advantages of a hybrid system.

        Full hybrid systems like those used by Toyota, Ford, and the GM Two-mode system allow for engine to be halted as the car is in motion.

        The most recent incarnation of the Honda IMA system has a similar mode of operation that allows for deactivation of all four cylinders while the car is in motion, but requires the engine to continue to turn over.

        At speeds less than highway speed, these modes allow for hybrid systems to have an engine active duty cycle of less than 100% while the car is in motion.

        Practically, this means that while the car is coasting or braking, the engine will burn 0 fuel instead of the small amount required to keep the engine turning over. It also means that if driven correctly, the electric system can even maintain the same speed or accelerate without the engine.

        When people say that hybrid cars are best in stop-and-go traffic because they assume that the majority of savings are from idle-stop, this is actually far from the truth. The real savings comes from the fact that engines, diesels or otherwise, burn more fuel per mile at lower speeds than at highway speeds. Hybrid systems take every opportunity to reduce that inefficient low speed engine consumption to 0.

        Modern diesels perform better than conventional gasoline engines in the city cycle, but they do not come close to hybrid vehicles in the city. If someone can implement a full hybrid system mated with a diesel, the biggest gains will be in the city and surface roads.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I should also note that hybrid hypermilers have learned over the last 9 years to exploit this very feature on Insights, Priuses, and other hybrids. The Pulse and Glide technique relies on dropping into an engine-halted coasting state.

        With this technique and a light foot, hypermilers have gotten the engine on duty cycle to 1/3 or less, and have racked up over 100+ MPG in stock Priuses and 80 MPG in a stock Ford Fusion Hybrid.
        • 6 Years Ago

        >> "and cannot be converted to Atkinson cycle"

        > That's not true. All you need is a different cam shaft. It wouldn't
        > be the proper Atkinson cycle, but it would work by the same
        > principal (longer expansion).

        You're wrong, randomdude.

        Doing so will make the exhaust gases pressure (thus their kinetic energy) not enough to drive the turbocharger (necessary in diesel engines cause the run lean mode with intake air excess most of the time). So you'd have to steal energy from the engine crank shaft to power the turbo, instead of recovering exhaust spare energy.

        This is why diesels are not converted to Atkinson cycle.

        Hybrid engines at the same time need no turbocharging, electric boost replaces it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "and cannot be converted to Atkinson cycle"

        That's not true. All you need is a different cam shaft. It wouldn't be the proper Atkinson cycle, but it would work by the same principal (longer expansion).

        Furthermore you say "Reduces the amount of part throttle operation". You can 'move' the load point and thus run the engine at a better efficiency. That's possible with a diesel engine, too.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I do not deny that the hybrid system will provide an improvement.

        As I said, it will not be nearly as dramatic as the improvement in a gasoline engine.

        And I question whether the ~30 gallons of diesel fuel saved per year would justify the cost (in dollars and energy used in manufacture) of the system.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, it is possible to convert a diesel to run an "Atkinson Miller cycle". The original Atkinson engine used an ingenious and complicated mechanism that caused the power and exhaust strokes to be longer than the intake and compression strokes, extracting more energy from the expanding hot gasses. (The mechanism was developed to get around patents on the crankshaft!) Years later, an engineer named Miller realized he could get a similar efficiency boosting effect with a regular crankshaft engine by delaying the close of the intake valve, effectively shortening the compression stroke.

        To convert a diesel to Atkinson-Miller operation would require both changes to the intake camshaft to delay intake valve closing and changes in the crankshaft to get sufficient compression and a longer expansion stroke. Such extensive modifications might not be worthwhile, especially for a turbocharged engine.
      • 6 Years Ago
      why didn't thys just buy a 1.2L diesel audi a2 from 2000?
      this car was also doing the same mileage and looks an awfull lot better.. why do you think the lupo was called the lupo 3l? In europe they measure mileage by liters per 100 km.
      80 MPG means 2.9 L/100KM
      so what did these guys achieve? putting a standard tdi engine in an ugly japanese car and keep the existing low miles per gallon of the engine....

      i think it's a waste of a lupo rather than an achievement.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This might be helpful anlong with other information on Mikes website:

      • 1 Year Ago
      All you haters are morons. Its easy to take a swing at someone from the comfort of your armchair. Try doing something better then leave a comment.
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