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]