I have spent the last few months pulling the EV to pieces. It seems like this process will never end. I am starting from scratch as there is nothing that I want to keep the same. These new LiFePo4 batteries are so different in every way that it means that I can put them in places that I couldn't even consider with the Lead Acid T1275's that I had before.
I have been sending video segments to Jack and Brian at EVTV for their weekly show and I want to share these with you all. I sent them five parts and 4 have been on the show.
Part 1, which is about what I am proposing to do with the Redux.
There is quite a long road ahead with this project and I can see light at the end of the tunnel
The space is cleared out and the table saw disassembled and the EV is in. I am privileged to have Jack and Brian of EVTV, let me show the progress on their internet TV show.
My EV's spot is about 15 mins into the Dec 9th 2011 show.
The hard part for me is the fact that I am now driving the kids around in the Suburban again.
I just spent a week in England and drove from London to County Durham, then Somerset and then on to Brighton. It seemed that everyone is in agreement that burning fossil fuel, to get around the few miles that most of us drive, has got to change. They are all excited that Nissan Leaf is making 100% electric drive cars, but hardly anyone could afford them. Nobody that I spoke to had even thought that they could convert their existing car into an EV.
So I decided to do a little digging for my fellow countrymen and see what was involved in the legal side. I called the DVLA and played out a scenario once I managed to get a live person on the end of the telephone ( that took about 10 minuets). I told him that I had taken the engine out of my car and replaced it with an all electric drive system. I asked him what I needed to do to make it street legal.
He said that you have to fill out form V10. Submit it to your local DVLA office with your proof of insurance and your MOT (vehicle inspection). He said there is no road tax on electric vehicles, and that someone may want to inspect the vehicle just to see that it had been converted. No cheating please. There are no fees for this service.
I also asked him if there were many people who have been doing this and he said that he had never heard of anyone doing it. I was quite taken aback.
So come on you boys and girls in Great Britain start to clear out the space in your garage. There are plenty of resources for you to get the right components and batteries, and build yourselves some EV's so we can all kick the dinosaurs out of our lives and regain control of our precious economies etc.
Most people are stretched in this economic climate and I think that a solution for many, may be to start sharing an EV. A bit like the idea they are having in Paris, which was recently aired, on Fully Charged episode 31, by Robert Llewellyn.
Just received my battery connector strips from EV Works in Australia. Seems like a hell of a long way to go to get something like that. I can't believe that I can't get something like that made up down the road. Anyway I have them and they are the best way to connect the batteries together in the shaky environment of the automobile.
My engine hoist arrived from Harbor Freight. It was missing all the assembly hardware, so I called them and they are sending all of that to me. Luckily I ordered this in advance of when I was going to need it, as I am stuck with an unforeseen delay of 10 days.
I still can't get over the fact that my batteries arrived 4 days after I ordered them. I thought I was going to be waiting 3 months. No wonder the Chinese are running away with the economy.
The convention was a great success. The energy was incredible, having over 140 attendees all with the same interest in EV's. I think we all felt that it was a special place to be, and that this was the beginning of a new way of life. I felt that there was an air of hopefulness, something to look forward to. I am sure it has to do with the fact that when you meet people that believe in the same things, you no longer feel alone.
I was very happy to meet Chris Payne. His Documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car" was pivotal in the way I wanted to live my life. That is why I dropped everything and converted a car to electric drive before I could move on. Now that I have been to EVCCON, I want to help other people do it too.
Thanks again Chris for a great presentation and for showing us your new film "Revenge of The Electric Car". This is a must see for all when it comes into a theatre near you.
Yes it has come already. Time flies when you are having fun. I look forward to meeting a lot of like minded souls at this convention.
Sadly I am not going with my EV. I have had no time to get the LiFePo batteries put in. I think this has worked out to be a good thing as I will learn a lot and may want to make some changes to the upgrades I am planing.
The EV is not running at the moment as there is a problem with the Netgain controller. I will be seeing Ryan Bohm from EV Source at the convention. It will be nice to meet him. He is very helpful with all the trouble shooting I have had in the past. This controller is obviously still in development, and I am happy to be one of the guinea pigs. I still find it annoying to have to drive the gas guzzler when things go wrong, what to do? I think that maybe I will have to have another controller as a back up especially when there are other cars out there that I have put together for someone else. People will not be as patient when their EV is down for the time it takes to ship from one side of the country to the other and back again to get the controller fixed.
I plan to use at least 48 of these in the EV. I should get a 100 mile max range and 80 mile range for extended battery life. ie. 2000 charge cycles at max range and 3000 plus if I only use 80 miles max before charging again. If you do the math these batteries should last between 200,000 and 240,000 miles if not more.
Lets do some more number crunching to compare a gas car to an EV.
How many gal of gas at $4/gal
240,000 miles @ 30 miles/gal= 8000 gals
8000 x $4= $32,000
How many oil changes @ 1 every 3000 miles
240,000/3000 = 80 oil changes
80 x $30 = $2,400
Total cost of gas and oil changes for 240,000 miles is $34,400
How many KwHr per charge
48 x 3.4volts x 180 Amp Hours = 29.376
29.376 kwh x $0.11/kwh =$3.23/charge cycle for 100 miles
240,000/100 x 3.23= $7,752 electricity for 240,000 miles
cost of replacing batteries after 240,000 miles $11,000
Total cost of batteries and electric to charge them for 240,000 miles is $18,752
So over the expected life of the battery the difference between the two drive trains is $15,648.
It only gets better as gas prices will only go up.
Not taken into account is the maintenance costs of an internal combustion engine (ICE). Something that you will not have with an electric motor as it only has one moving part (expected life of electric motor 1 million miles). You might have to change the brushes after 100,000 miles (a 15 min job).
You might put solar panels on your house and offset you electric bill so your kwh cost will go down.
Now you are driving on sunshine. How good does that feel
Sure it is expensive to set it all up but it is cheaper than a new corvette or mercedes.
My range is not what it was and so the batteries are all out of the EV and back at Northeast Battery getting tested to see how they perform under a load. They have also found some grey sludge in them and they are being very helpful to try and find out what is causing the problem.
I am also working on a new DC to DC converter for the 12 volt system. I am using some Vicor bricks and some heat sink and should be able to eliminate another 30 lbs of weight.
Excited to be going to the EV Conversion Convention in September. Seems an age away. The Keynote speaker will be Chris Paine who made the documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car"
My Lead Sled is not welcome and I don't think that I will have switched out he batteries by then. However there will be at least 10 other conversions there plus Jack Richards cars. It is going to be a great show.
In May I will have been on the road with this EV for a year. I don't have a sense of how long the Lead Acid battery pack is going to last, so I am researching and planning for the inevitable change over to LiFeYPo4 batteries. I follow Jack Rickard and Brian Noto on EVTV avidly, and they are fast becoming the EV gurus of the world. Anyone who does a conversion at this stage is an early adopter. We are not doing this to save money on gas alone. There are many great reasons to do this. Geo political, Economic to list a few. Wonder why our economy is in a shambles, just look at how much money we send out of the US for our oil.
The great news is that with the lithium batteries electric cars are now viable.
I am about to experience the advantage of having done my own conversion. The Batteries are more powerful now(power to weight ratio), and they will always get better. By the time I am ready to switch my batteries I will be able to get 150 miles on a charge (and that is with the present technology). The only time I would ever need that is to get to my country house on a weekend, which is 100 miles away. You need to educate yourself on these batteries. They are not what you think. Go to EVTV.ME and look at the Dec 18th 2009 archive video. The time is right for you to be an early adopter. All you have to do is pick a car that you love to drive and watch all the videos on evtv.me. That in itself will probably take you a couple of months.
I have been back on the road for over a week now and last week the temperature ouside warmed to 38 deg F. The batteries had more capacity, also the roads were in better shape, so I was able to use it more.
However the temperature this Monday morning was at 1 deg F, and the power steering pump was laboring because the oil must be thicker. The batteries were not showing a full charge so I didn't want to take a chance and took Analisa to the train in the Suburban. LiFePo4 batteries would not have this problem.
It was a very quick turn around and I got it back on Monday. We were hit by another snow storm so I am glad that the EV is in Jim Gutzmann's garage. Thanks Jim. I hope to get it back on the road by the end of the week or early next week.
Jack Rickard's Friday show was great this last week. Try to take a look at it at www.evtv.me, it is a great show. You get to see some of the bare bones of the Tesla.
I got an email from Ryan at EVSource to send the controller back for a fix. So I managed to borrow a space in a friends garage to park the EV for a few days while this takes place. I am burning gas like crazy in the Suburban again. It was cold this morning when I drove Analisa to the train station. I have grown accustomed to the almost instant heat in the EV.
The Controller is one of the big ticket items in the EV, at around $1,950. This industry is in its infancy so there will be some modifications along the way which will take the EV off the road.
The Lead Acid batteries are struggling in the cold. The range has dropped dramatically, another reason to switch to LiFePo4 batteries.
We made it into the paper last week. Thank you Journal News for a great article. The more people know that it can be done with any vehicle the better. There is a lot of amazing work being done at the grassroots level. You can basically learn everything you need to know from Jack Rickards videos online at EVTV.me. He will be the first to admit that they are long and in depth. His research on the available batteries and everything else to do with EVs is very informative. I personally can't wait to convert my Lead Acid batteries to Thundersky LiFePo4. I would lose 400 lbs of weight and have a range of 100 miles. It just makes sense. I can still use my Lead Acid pack to store energy and to quick charge the EV in about 20 minutes. Now that would be interesting to do.
But for now I have to finish my kitchen. All I can do at the moment is dream.
For an EV that has a range of 30 miles on Lead Acid batteries, I am managing to consistently to do over 50 miles a day, meeting all my needs. I charge between uses and it feels good to drive a Zero Emissions Vehicle.
A lot of people are asking me what I would do differently if I was to do a conversion again. So what I think I need to do is go over the problems that I ran into so that it might help those of you who are thinking of taking the bull by the horns and reducing your gas addiction significantly by starting your own conversion. Over the next few weeks I shall list the things that went wrong and what I did to overcome the problems that presented themselves. I will also make a list of parts and stuff that I had to buy to get the job done, so that the cost of the project becomes tangible.
But for now lets start at the beginning.
Choosing the car, It has to be something that you are going to love driving, comfortable, aerodynamic and with great handling. The body is going to need to be free from rust so that it lasts a long time. I have fallen in love with my EV and can't stand the thought of it being off the road for any length of time. It is such a different driving experience. As an EV it has great acceleration and it holds the road on cornering like nothing else due to its lower center of gravity and extra weight and the way it is distributed.
Having a space to work on it is the key to success. It needs to be inside out of the weather. You are going to be pulling it to pieces and you will need to keep things organized and so a clean space is very important. Getting muddled and losing bits and pieces is frustrating and time consuming.
Research as much as you can, I found Jack Rickard and Gavin Shoebridge's YouTube movies a great place to start. There is a ton of information available from those two people. Jack approaches everything in a thorough and scientific way, so spend the time researching all you can.
The point at which you will find yourself stuck and alone, and feeling a little helpless, is when you want to get the motor married to the existing transmission. There are some companies that will do it for you, but you have to send both parts to them and it can take 3 months. That is really painful and I opted to go it alone. It wasn't the adaptor plate that posed the problem so much as the coupling and where to get it and which one would work for my application. No one could help me. On Gav's site he used a Lovejoy coupling and so I called them up and asked which one they recommended. They said they could not recommend one as it was being used in a vehicle, and that could have potential liability issues. That got me a little frustrated. So anyway I ended up having to just pick one and give it a try. It turned out to be too small and shattered within the first 200 miles. It was back to the drawing board and I called Lovejoy again and told them that one of their couplings had failed, and this time the rep did give me a recommendation. Maybe he sensed that I wasn't going to go away.
I had to get the splined insert that had been welded into the smaller one machined and re welded into the larger coupling. The larger coupling was made of sintered iron which you cannot weld onto. I then had to order one side of the coupling made out of stainless steel. It took over a week to arrive and then a few days at the machinist to get it worked on. In the meantime I had to change the spacing between the motor and the transmission by adding more spacers ( 2 pieces of 1/2 inch aluminum), which meant the bracket where the other end of the motor fixed to the chassis also had to be changed.
It has not been a problem since then. It seems to be a really hardy coupling that can handle the tremendous amount of torque that an electric motor generates.
On Friday I was invited to make a presentation of the EV at an NYU-Poly workshop about 'Rebooting the Grid'. One of my friends, Dhirendra Ashar, who is an electrical engineer. set up an invitation with Dr. Andres Fortino. It was a full day event, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The problem that was discussed was, what the Power Grid will look like in 30 years when all cars in the US are powered by electricity. There were a lot of very interesting and smart people there, and we had a great time brainstorming this subject.
We also had an Engineer from GM who brought a Chevy Volt along for everyone to see. Thanks to Jason Taylor for giving me a great walk through of the Volt. It is a lovely vehicle. It has a range of 40 miles on electric power, which as I have found with my EV, with a range of 30 miles, is plenty for all the local running around. And if you need to go further than that, then the back up gas generator will get you to your destination where you can charge up the car again. I think that it is going to be a great transitional vehicle for the consumer who is very nervous about running out of power. Once people experience the joy of driving on clean electricity, they will become more confident with all electric vehicles.
Some of the main ideas that I loved the sound of were, that cars would be a way of storing energy and that they would share it with the Smart Grid. The technology for this type of sharing is apparently there. In other words say you had a range of 100 miles on a charge, and your commute to work, and other daily needs, was 60 miles. You could program your car to let the grid use say 30 miles worth of you energy during the day while you are parked at work, leaving you a buffer of 10 miles. Your car charges at night while you are sleeping and at a time that is off peak and there is an excess of power being produced by the power grid.
So what happens when you need to go further than 100 miles. The most attractive idea was the battery swap stations where you drive up to what looks like a car wash and the battery is taken out and a fully charged one gets popped in its place. This process would take about 5 mins, enough time to get a nice cup of tea, or coffee.
Here is a presentation of this idea by Shai Aggasi.