Author Topic: Thinking about an EV conversion  (Read 3835 times)

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SparWeb

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Thinking about an EV conversion
« on: March 12, 2017, 01:38:26 PM »
Hi,
Apologies for having no show-and-tell.  Still just pie-in-the-sky thoughts.  Putting them down in text to hear any reactions / corrections / ridicule that my fellow members consider appropriate.

I've always wanted to built an EV conversion.  It also seems out of reach since I live so far out of town.  The only realistic EV for me would be able to get me to work every day.  That would demand at least 80 km between charges, and preferably 160 km to get to work and back home without a recharge in between.  I think to be realistic and economical I should only consider 80 km and make sure I have provisions to recharge before getting back (and 8 hours at work with the car plugged in should guarantee a charge to get back home).

I currently spend 3000+ dollars a year driving to work and back just on fuel.  Maintenance on the car is also an expense, but it doesn't seem realistic to expect the maintenance costs of a home-brew EV to be any less than a mass-produced high quality auto.  My current auto is a 9-year-old Acura TSX.  It is still in great condition; in fact, I have never had a better car than this one.  It would be a shame to screw up a good car for a dreamy project (and what would I drive in the meantime during the conversion?).  So I have to find a suitable donor car that will be able to carry the motor and battery power I need.

Complicating the means to this end, I need an EV that can clip along at 60+mph (100 kph) to keep up with highway traffic, which is 80% of my drive to work distance.  It will also have to manage 10% gravel road.  Not going to worry about the 10% city streets which is where most EV's are at home.  The gravel roads will demand a correct F/R wheel load balance otherwise the handling will be compromised.  Since I live in Canada, and we get snow here, handling would be a crucial concern whether or not I live on a gravel road.

To keep a 3000+ pound car going 100 kph, especially up a 10% grade hill, I think I need at least 80 kW in the drive motor.  Nothing cheap about these motors.  There goes 1 year of fuel cost savings.

To complete my trip to work, at this speed, it will require a battery bank that can deliver about 40 kW-hours.  Every day.  There's nothing light about such a battery bank and that will eat up the equivalent cost of 2-3 years of gasoline savings to buy the monster LiPO pack.

Plus the cost of the motor drive controller....  Any suggestions to keep all these costs under control?

One more of the not-so-simple problems, is getting a donor car that can handle the increase in weight without overloading its chassis and suspension.  It would be nice to grab any old Honda Civic or a Ford Focus, but there really isn't much weight in these cars to begin with - not much fat to trim after pulling out the engine and fuel tank.  My first estimate is that the EV conversion would increase the weight of the car by at least 500 pounds.  Not likely to be safe without beefing up the suspension and wheels. 
Whoops... that will add more weight.

No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

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DamonHD

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2017, 02:34:23 PM »
Not that I have much to offer on this topic, but ... would you for example be prepared to sacrifice the back seat area of a vehicle to accommodate some of the 'stuff' eg the batteries?

Rgds

Damon

joestue

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2017, 03:59:18 PM »
33 kilowatt hours per gallon of gas is approximately $3.5 worth of electricity, which is cheaper than the price you're paying for gasoline.

potentially your savings are inversely proportional to the efficiency of your gasoline engine. if its 20 percent, then theoretically you can spend 600 canadian on your electric bill instead of 3000 on gasoline.

But the life cycle cost of the battery must be less than the difference.

33 kilowatt hours for $4.5
or 6.6 kilowatt hours for $.66
difference is about $3.84
this $3.84 works out to be $0.58 per kilowatt hour.

suppose you buy the 100 amp hour 96 volt pack here
http://www.batteryspace.com/lifepo4-prismatic-battery-charger-and-bms-package-96v-choose-from-40ah-60ah-or-100ah-w-can.aspx

that's 9600 watt hours for $6650 and at 300 watt hours per mile that gets you 32 miles or 51 kilometers.

so lets assume a 6.6 kilowatt hour battery pack costs $4580

you need to charge and discharge it $4580/$3.84 or 1192 times to break even. that's about 4 years of driving.

if your battery is twice the size you need it to be, it will take 2400 50% discharges before you break even.. that's like 8 years of driving.

note that i could have done all this math in per unit notation, and the actual figures won't matter.

I don't know if you can get reliable lithium ion batteries any cheaper than 60 cents a watt hour, which is 600 dollars per kilowatt hour. i think the hybrid car manufacturers are able to buy lithium ion batteries at 300 dollars per kilowatt hour and its projected to drop to 200 dollars per kilowatt hour in a few years. i'm skeptical of that happening in just a few years. maybe 5 years and there may be a lot of inflation between now and then.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 04:03:36 PM by joestue »

Mary B

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2017, 05:03:27 PM »
I have debated this and what is needed is an ultralight enclosed 3 wheel "car" so battery requirements are less. Add a tiny electric start on board generator just in case battery capacity drops below 30%. Keep the weight under 1500 pounds(or even 1,000) and it would make a good commuter. 2 seats, small storage area... build it like the Can Am Spyders with front wheel drive, could use a front transaxle form a small car then lighten it as much as possible.

50% of my trip to town are just errands to get a few things form the store where I do not need the storage space of my truck.

george65

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2017, 05:46:55 PM »
It does not sound like your circumstances and requirements are suitable for an EV, unless you invest in something like a tesla that can go the distance.  I have paid less than $100 a year for fuel for 14 years and I do at least 2 interstate trips per year and and an intrastate trip of over 300 km every month or so to see my Dad. I have a 3 Ton 4WD that I can put a load of gear in to carry round and economy is not that great but when you are running on Veg oil, it doesn't really matter other than for range.

I can put 200L of oil in the back with the rest of my equipment for the interstate trips which gives me about 2500 Km range starting with a full tank as well.  People often go on about the weight of the oil failing to realise that it is less than just 2 other people in the car my size and far less than 5 average people in it even though it can carry 7.  500 pounds would be 3 people in the back seat. Unless it's some micro car, that ought not be a problem unless the car has compromised structural integrity to to start with.

An EV may not be a practical or economical Soloution for you at this time but it you wanted to save money on fuel ( and all the environmental  considerations)  A veg oil/ Bio Diesel powered car would be a very easy and practical answer......IF, you are prepared to do the bit of extra work required to produce our own fuel.

This is usually the stumbling block. Many talk the green hype but when put to the test, fall over because it requires some extra effort and time.

IF you were going to build and EV, I'd be looking at something like a Subaru Outback or Forrester.  All wheel Drive, would be easy to remove the engine and couple a motor to everything else, Take a LOT of extra weight to worry one and heaps of room for batteries, controllers etc.

The other thing that comes to mind is a Hybrid.
From what I have read I believe there are companies out there doing plug in Conversions on priarse vehicles. You can add extra battery packs and charge the things from the mains and the engine only kicks in when the batteries are depleted.... which to me sounds ideal for you.  If you ever got diverted or stuck in traffic, this would stop you getting stranded when you would be happy to pay 5 bux for fuel to get home.
Again, wouldn't  be worried about weight. If you turn the thing into a 2 seater with extra packs ( which I don't think are real heavy anyway compared to a person) it's just the same as having a couple of passengers on board all the time.

One other thing in favour of a hybrid that comes to mind is something I was reading about just the other night on Teslas......
You say you live in Canada... Where it snows.... A hybrid will give you heating from the engine in winter. I was reading reports on how using the heater in a tesla eats into the range of the thing at a very substantial rate.  With  a Pure EV you would not have a heater and while it may be considered even a Luxury where I am on an EV, For anywhere there is snow I'd say it was an essential!

I also notice Priarse has fans on the battery/ inverter so this being the case you may be able to get some heat from that. I Imagine running along at 100 would tend to get things warm so it may be possible to duct this heat to the cabin rather than just dump it to atmosphere.

It would seem to me converting a Hybrid and putting in extra battery packs would be a lot easier and cheaper with infinately fewer hassels and problems than starting with an IC vehicle and converting that.

http://www.pluginsupply.com/specs/


Harold in CR

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2017, 07:23:47 PM »
 Sparweb, Read this thread, completely. I believe it is exactly what you need. https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=83410

 You might even contact the guy. He is easy to talk with.

 PS. I even have the batteries you would need, in the Classified section.  ::) :-[
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 07:27:52 PM by Harold in CR »

dnix71

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2017, 09:37:58 PM »
You don't want to risk being stuck in the winter in Canada if the batteries fail. A hybrid with the ability to run directly from batteries would be safer and guarantee the range. Something like the original Volt design, once the batteries are low the car will run from gasoline, but you make best use of the electric part first.

Warpspeed

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2017, 03:40:56 PM »
A home made hybrid might be worth thinking about.
A small light modern front wheel drive car should be fairly fuel efficient anyway.  Then add a battery and an electric motor to the rear wheels.
It would all need to be very carefully thought through, but there are times when a lot of power is not required, and times when it is.

It would also give you two completely independent systems to get home on.

SparWeb

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2017, 11:07:13 PM »
Hello everyone,
All of your comments are really appreciated, thank you.

It's reassuring to hear that some of my thinking is roughly on the right track.  The project would be a reach; a long one.  Maybe there are better choices, such as a hybrid. 
Joe's analysis is different from mine, but says the same thing: to reach the goal it would take a lot of work, ingenuity, and a bit of luck.  2 out of 3 won't do this time.
I made the mistake of reading the Elon Musk biography.  Now I can't stop thinking about EV's.

I wouldn't actually try to justify the project on the basis of cost alone.  Nobody 'round here would believe me if I tried!  But to show that it won't be a 100% money pit would be a plus, especially in the matter of getting expenses approved by the family finance committee.

The winter is a problem.  I should not expect a homebrew EV to be a good drive, December to February.  Roads are still snowy in March, but I would not worry too much about a temperature penalty on a day that went from -10C in the morning to +10C in the afternoon.  Getting stranded wouldn't be fun but that sounds more like something that would happen during the shakedown driving.  Once the car's motor, battery and charger are selected, the system will work fairly predictably until a fault occurs.  Preventing such faults will be my responsibility to monitor battery condition and recharging. 

I have learned some things about battery temperature monitoring and management that are being done on production EV's and I don't think they are all that difficult, but they do have a weight penalty.  Since recharging efficiency is affected by temperature (hot and cold) and discharging is limited by battery heat sometimes too, I can see why the big players circulate coolants in their battery packs.  Making that part of my plan from the beginning would add complexity but it seems to give an edge.  It would also mitigate my weather limitations.  We can't all live in California.

I am tall.  I have yet to sit in a Prius, but I have been in every other Toyota that has ever been sold in Canada.  I do not fit in Toyotas, except the Tacoma and the RAV4 that got bigger a few years ago.  I don't fit in much of anything with a Nissan, Mitsu, Lexus, or other asian badge.  So I haven't taken any of the import car EV's very seriously as long as they look like shopping carts.  The Chevy Volt has caught my eye and I am going to test drive one - but I can't afford a new one.  Better be careful what I say down at the dealership.  I think I could afford a Prius (if I fit comfortably) but it would have to be an old one.  They have been keeping their resale value (something I didn't think they would do when they first came out; I can be cynical about these things).

For some reason I don't see many examples of Subaru conversions.  Don't know if it's just because scoobydoo's aren't very common, or if there's some kind of nightmare hiding in their funky drivetrain that doesn't mate with electric motors.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

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Simen

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2017, 12:28:53 AM »
I drive a '13 Nissan Leaf (80kW motor) here i Norway, which have much the same winter as you (1-4 feet of snow from nov-feb), and get around 100km/charge in the winter (130-140km in the summer). This is with the 24kWh battery; newer models have 30kWh battery.
I am 1.85m tall, and have plenty of space in the Leaf. :)

Converting to EV would set you back much more than a used Leaf would cost, but might be more fun... ;)
I will accept the rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. - (R. A. Heinlein)

Warpspeed

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2017, 12:43:53 AM »
I am not that big, (6ft  205 Lbs), but if you really are a large person, then a custom seat, pedals and steering wheel can probably get you comfortable even in a very small car.


electrondady1

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2017, 06:12:23 AM »
they has a electric vehicle section on the back shed forum Sparweb
 home made pickup trucks

Mary B

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2017, 03:50:45 PM »
I am 5'11"(my family is tall, sisters are 5'10" bro's are 6'3") and I hit my head in many of the small cars and lowering the seat makes getting in and out difficult... I can see where anyone tall would be concerned with headroom more than anything, and knee room. The prius I hit my knees getting in and out for example.

I am not that big, (6ft  205 Lbs), but if you really are a large person, then a custom seat, pedals and steering wheel can probably get you comfortable even in a very small car.

Warpspeed

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2017, 04:11:47 PM »
In most vehicles there is a ton of room under the seat, so that the small or average person can see out over the dash.

If you are seven feet tall, seeing over the top of the steering wheel is never going to be a problem.
I am told that the width of normal bucket seats can also be a problem for particularly large people.
I still cannot see why a custom seat set much lower and further back will not solve the problem.

Had a neighbour once, she was quite literally round, with very short legs.  If the seat and steering wheel were far enough apart for her to fit, she could not reach the pedals. She had a local mechanic bolt some wooden blocks onto the pedals.  No, this is not a joke.

george65

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2017, 04:31:07 PM »

Quote
I am tall.

How tall exactly and what do you weigh?

Warpspeed

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2017, 04:47:02 PM »
Here is a rather memorable thread from the Lotus Forum.
These Lotus sports cars are incredibly small by any standards, and some of the guys that race them are also rather tall, and must also wear a crash helmet.
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f3/lotus-elise-can-i-fit-53842/


joestue

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2017, 06:01:09 PM »
Given that gasoline/diesel is about the same energy cost as electricity, it is the responsible thing in my opinion to put a heating oil furnace in your EV to handle the auxiliary heating demands required.

george65

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2017, 08:44:33 PM »
Given that gasoline/diesel is about the same energy cost as electricity,

For those looking for straight economy and not particularly wanting an electric car, There are plenty of conventional Diesels out there now that will give any far more expensive Hybrid a run for their money.

VW's Golfs get amazing mileage as does the Polo.  Even Hyundai and others can get over 50 MPG and are cheaper than Hybrids in cost, insurance and life-cycle.

Every time I hear someone here talk about the economy Of a hybrid I laugh.  Nothing like spending $40K more to save $5K over 10 years!

:0)

Simen

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2017, 12:17:45 AM »
There are differences in the world. ;)
I pay $1.5 (less in the summer) to drive 100km with my Nissan Leaf here in Norway - my mother pays $9.0 to drive 100km with her WW Golf Diesel.
I will accept the rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. - (R. A. Heinlein)

Bruce S

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2017, 12:30:21 PM »
SparWeb;
There was a long time poster from before the forum update and even after.
Jerry , did his own Etruck, posted it on this forum too.
I've not seen Jerry post in years. He had moved (I think) and downsized his shop.
He's also the one credited with "jerry-rigging" garbo-gens!!
When / IF you have the time dig into his postings. I think  Windstuff Ed was doing one too.

I had posted on here a story about a 3-wheeled 'bent enclosed trike that also had a 36VAC motor. I built the battery packs out of re-purposed NiCd packs, that replaced the SLAs that couldn't hold up to the abuse(WE knew that even then). The owner has since added a 4-stroke weed eater motor (23cc) this sits and charges the batteries. I was not involved in that but I knew of the unit. I could certainly try to see if he still has it.

Cheers and best of luck.
Bruce S
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SparWeb

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2017, 03:10:32 PM »
I remermber Jerry fondly!
His truck was lead acid powered, a direction I don't want to go.
A little comparison calculating shows that lead cells add many pounds of weight more per km you want to go than LiPO cells do.
My number crunching may be of interest, so I will post up a few graphs that really were an eyeopener for me.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

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Warpspeed

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2017, 06:55:09 PM »
Hi,
One more of the not-so-simple problems, is getting a donor car that can handle the increase in weight without overloading its chassis and suspension.  It would be nice to grab any old Honda Civic or a Ford Focus, but there really isn't much weight in these cars to begin with - not much fat to trim after pulling out the engine and fuel tank.  My first estimate is that the EV conversion would increase the weight of the car by at least 500 pounds.  Not likely to be safe without beefing up the suspension and wheels. 
Whoops... that will add more weight.
Five hundred pounds is only like having three average sized passengers, and quite often many basic commuter cars have a "sports variant" with upgraded brakes, wheels, and suspension to make any upgrade a straight bolt on.
I think I would like to keep the original manual gearbox. Most of your power consumption will be when accelerating or climbing hills. A manual gearbox would greatly reduce the peak load on the electric motor, and I am sure would offer enough advantages to offset the weight penalty.

I have never owned an Alfa Romeo, but those are reasonably small cars, without being tiny, and have the engine at the front, and the clutch and manual gearbox at the back which is pretty unique and may simplify things. They are also now old enough and affordable enough to do really radical things to.
They have pretty good original weight distribution too for a small car, and a bunch of batteries at the front instead of the engine would probably not change that a whole lot.

Just unbolt the front of the bell housing and remove the clutch, and fit an electric motor right there.... Done.

« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 07:05:42 PM by Warpspeed »

SparWeb

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2017, 09:31:13 PM »
Indeed, lowering the seat can solve the headspace problem of virtually any car.  Lightening the driver's seat (if the donor car has powered seats, for example) may be necessary anyway.  Considering my purpose for the car, the back seats will simply go, to make space for batteries.

George, you aren't wrong about diesel fuel efficiency, although in Canada, diesel is more expensive than gasoline.  Only about 1/2 of the fuel stations carry diesel around here.  The choices of car from the OEM are limited, seemingly, to Volkswagens and their tarnished reputation, and trucks larger than 1 ton.  I have already considered other fuel conversions, such as natural gas, but there are no businesses offering the conversion in Canada or a home fueling station (I have NG service at the house) and the economics seem to save me very little money.  The cost of the conversion itself won't be recovered for years.  To rephrase my goals, I am trying to USE NO CHEMICAL FUELS at all.

I started to figure out what to expect from an EV, bearing in mind that I want to go minimum 50 miles, preferably 100 miles, on a single charge.  I collected stats from the EV's on the market (Ford, Chevy, Mitsubishi, BMW, and, of course, Tesla) and they were very interesting to compare.  The first thing I noticed (and it's obvious on the graph below) is that the Tesla's are in a class all their own.  Basically, a Tesla gets 3x the range of any other type of EV available for sale from a major manufacturer.  The green dot near the red Tesla dots in the Chevy Bolt, closing in on Tesla territory.  Most of these can meet my minimum range, but few of them can do more than 100 miles (Chevy Bolt, BMW i3, all Teslas).  Price of admission into the long-range EV club starts at 40,000 CAD.

Looking at vehicle conversions, I got more surprises.  Would you believe that there are many auto conversions on the DIY EV forum and EV Album that have BETTER range than the OEM cars on the market?  I was encouraged to see that.  Admittedly, these are just builder claims, not as scientific as CAFE test trials.  But I don't expect that the OEM claims are exactly what I would get either.  Temperature always affects battery range, so I'm more likely to believe the range claim of a DIY builder in Oregon state than the OEM official numbers from California as representative of range in Calgary.

LiPO cells make all the difference in DIY conversions.  Compare the LiPO conversions to the lead-acid battery powered cars, and there's no competition.  There are plenty of LiPO battery conversions that meet my minimum range requirement.  Looking more carefully at the examples that do, and I find some other things in common.  Two of them are Honda Civics, converted using Advanced DC series-wound motors.  To get the range they obviously need to a LOT of batteries inside.  Apart from that, I can't see any other components or equipment that have strong advantages.  So I think a lot of choices are wide open to me, to use use what I think I need as I dig deeper into the design.



I was expecting to see some kind of advantage, given all the claims being made, for the AC motor conversions.  No sign of it in the numbers I collected of DIY EV's.  I doubt that AC regeneration braking will help me, since my goal is to run on highways, where I tend to not touch the brakes for 10 - 20 minutes at a stretch.  That is one cost and complication that I can avoid.

Warpspeed - that's a neat idea.  It brings up another way to choose a candidate for conversion - saving a rare auto from the wrecking yard.  Plenty of cars go to scrap for the simple reason that their engine quit and isn't worth the repair.  This appears to be a factor in the number of Mazda RX-7 conversions out there.  The average shop isn't interested in tampering with those funny engines, and owners are stuck with big repair bills.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

Warpspeed

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2017, 10:51:06 PM »
I am only half joking when I suggest you could always mount a Honda gasoline standby generator in the boot.

SparWeb

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Re: Thinking about an EV conversion
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2017, 12:44:33 PM »
Hmmmm
300 VDC battery pack  <->  240VAC output from generator, rectified.

Yeah, I think I see it.

 8)
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024