This lime green 2000 Honda Insight is a frequent sight around Indian Valley, where its owner Jim Reichle resides, and in Quincy a frequent destination. The hybrid vehicle was designed for maximum fuel efficiency including the back wheel covers which minimize wind resistance.

New driving game

Maximizing his miles per gallon

Personal record: 75 miles per gallon. Achieved when Jim Reichle drove his 2000 Honda Insight from Greenville to Oroville on one gallon of gas, which involved some “creative coasting.”

Driving has become a bit of a game for the Indian Valley attorney who checks his mileage in real time via a gauge on his dashboard.

The engine compartment of this 2000 Honda Insight is relatively straightforward, and car junkie Jim Reichle works on it himself as needed. Photos by Debra Moore

“It’s a different experience; it’s a little like learning to fly,” Reichle said of driving his Insight. “It’s about learning the moves to get the mileage higher.”

And that’s what Reichle has been doing since he bought the vehicle from a man in Sacramento two years ago. “I had been researching this model for several years,” Reichle said. “I was intrigued with the engineering.”


The Honda Insight, which is a hybrid, came out about six months before the Toyota Prius. It has a 1-litre gas engine and an 18 horsepower battery. He decided to buy the Insight, not only because of its unique engineering, but because he wanted to save money in fuel.

It is definitely a departure from his long-time preferred car.

“I was running out of Volvos,” Reichle said of his favored brand, though he only drove mid-70s models, usually cannibalizing parts from a variety of parked cars to keep one running.

His new car is made of aluminum and weighs in at 1,800 pounds. In addition to its light weight, it was designed to be as aerodynamic as possible with wheel covers on the rear tires and a pan that encases the undercarriage.

When asked if that curtails his ability to drive it places, Reichle said that he has taken his Insight on some back roads because “it has decent clearance and it’s good in first gear.”


His car has a five-speed manual transmission, which he has learned to shift to maximize his gas mileage.

“I downshift to speed up,” he said, “which is unlike a normal car.”

The day he stopped by the newspaper he had averaged 65.8 miles per gallon for his last 110 miles of driving.

The battery also contributes to the mileage, which Reichle compares to a “booster pack.” It charges while he is driving, but he gives it an extra charge with an external battery on the weekends. When asked if he purchased the charger with the car, he just shook his head and explained how he bought a battery and then soldered some wires …

Jim Reichle points to the gauge that continuously monitors his gas mileage. He has turned it into a game of sorts — watching how his driving affects his miles per gallon.

If he ever has questions about his 19-year-old vehicle he goes to a website dedicated to the car called Insight Central.


Reichle’s model, a subcompact 3-door liftback, was sold from 2000-2006.

It was retooled as a compact 5-door liftback and sold from 2010-2014 and was reintroduced last year as a 5-door sedan.

But just as he preferred vintage Volvos, Reichle is happy to have the initial model year of the Insight.

So the next time you see a lime green, space-age looking car tooling through the county, you now know the rest of the story.

Honda Insight

Model years

2000-2006: 3-door liftback

2010-2014: 5-door liftback

2019-present: 4 door sedan