‘Silver Streak’ – the pure electric Honda Insight with 350 mile range

A Honda Insight hybrid converted to pure-electric will attempt a 350-mile road trip from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington and back on a single charge.

By Will Dron on March 18, 2011 11:33 AM

The car is being built by John Wayland, the man responsible for ‘White Zombie’, the world’s fastest-accelerating street-legal electric car. In fact, that description doesn’t do ‘White Zombie’ justice, and neither do the figures of 10.258 seconds for the quarter mile and 123.79 miles per hour – to really appreciate the car, check out a great video of it in action below.

But this time around Wayland is going for distance rather than acceleration. ‘Silver Streak’ will complete the 350-mile challenge at posted speed limits of 55-70mph along the I-5 freeway.

350 miles is not the distance world record for EVs – that belongs to the Lekker Mobil Audi A2, which completed 372 miles from Munich to Berlin in October 2010 (with driver Mirko Hannemann quipping that there was enough battery to charge journalists’ mobile phones at his journey’s ended).

But ‘Silver Streak’ has a certain built-in-a-shed feel about it. Wayland is stripping out the 11-year-old Insight’s three-cylinder petrol engine and IMA/battery hybrid system and replacing it with the electric motor and differential from GM’s doomed electric car from the 1990s, the EV1. Yes, the EV1 from Chris Paine’s documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006).

“Go back to the introduction of the 2000 Honda Insight,” said Wayland on his blog. “It’s my opinion that the Insight should have been offered as a full electric in addition to the hybrid model. Now go back to earlier on in this decade and remember GM crushing to death the EV1. The Insight’s body size, teardrop aero shape including rear fender skirts and narrower-than-front rear track, and low curb weight were all derived from the EV1. Honda even admits this.

“GM had a red EV1 test car with a lithium pack – I saw it with my own eyes, but it too, was crushed. The special combination of an Insight powered by an EV1 AC drive with energy coming from a high storage capacity lithium pack is definitely going to raise a few eyebrows!”

‘Silver Streak’s’ trip will be made “flanked by a squadron of Teslas”, and a film crew is capturing the build and event itself. The idea is to show Honda and GM what could have been.

For now, though, enjoy the video of Wayland’s amazing EV dragster White Zombie in action: