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Mike Kamm Profile
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Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


I'm really getting tired of worrying about gas prices, and they way they effect my car hobby. Every time the prices spike I have to rethink everything. Towing to an event becomes cost prohibitive. Spending $100- $150 just in fuel to tow to an event can even be considered foolish [in my opinion.] That's for the hobby end of things.

Now for the day to day commute end of things.

Since Nissan announced the all electric Leaf, I have become interested in electric vehicles [EV's]. But the reality is that they aren't cheap to buy at this time, nor cost effective. If they were, most people would be owning or seeking EV's and the car companies would not be able to make them fast enough.

So I have come to the conclusion that in order to have an electric vehicle that makes sense monetarily, we'd have to build our own.

Image

I am just now starting to research available conversion kits and they are definitely out there. I only need to go 12 miles to and from work each day. I have plenty of gas cars if I want to take a trip.

Just think about the advantages of an EV,

No more:

oil changes, motor oil, filters, oil leaks!

exhaust systems, rusty mufflers, and pipes.

radiators, anti freeze, leaky water pumps

timing belts, fan belts, leaky crank seals

head gasket failures, bad turbos, carbon deposits, fuel additives,

spark plugs, tune ups, ignition coils

no loss in efficiency while warming up like in an internal combustion engine [ICE].

Some people will argue that EV's aren't any cleaner than gas cars because coal is burned to generate your electricity. Have you looked on the back of your National Grid bill lately? Here in NY only 9% of our power is generated by coal.

Would we performance enthusiasts be happy with electric cars? This I don't know yet, but I feel that I can be. Certainly they are coming and are in our future.


Last edited by Mike Kamm, 9/28/2013, 10:19 pm
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zx2 2000 Profile
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


time needed to recharge.
Batteries going bad.
Electrical connections corroding
Relays etc not working properly.
Gassing from the batteries, highly explosive.
Reduced range in cold weather due to less output from the batteries.
added load from the heater, lights and wipers.
then there is the problem of heat.
No boost for the brakes,
Probably no power steering.
Just some negatives to think about. emoticon

---
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David Fazzino Profile
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


The Morgan sports car company is building a electric car with a manual gearbox.

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Electric Morgan will be an e-roadster with a manual transmission
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By Mike Spinelli
Aug 18, 2011 1:30 PM
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Electric Morgan will be an e-roadster with a manual transmission

Morgan Motor Company may be steeped in the dusky liquors of the old world, but it's been making moves toward next-level thinking. Take the company's hydrogen fuel cell LifeCar project, and now its all-electric +E program. Part Caterham, part Nissan Leaf?

An all-electric English roadster with a manual transmission, you ask? No, it is not a plot point from the new movie, Landed Gentry and Aliens. It's a new partnership between Morgan and a consortium of technologists including Zytek, a firm that created, among other electric drivetrain bits, one of the KERS systems used in Formula One.

The +E sports car prototype is based on the Morgan Aero Supersport's aluminum chassis, and is motivated by Zytek's 94 hp, 221 lb-ft electric powertrain fed through a conventional manual gearbox. That e-lump replaces the Aero's typical 4.8 liter BMW V8. The drive unit will be fitted into the transmission tunnel, and require just three extra connections (cooling water, high voltage electrics and low voltage electrics). Power will come from a Li-Ion battery pack integrated into the vehicle's aluminum structure

Electric Morgan will be an e-roadster with a manual transmissionProject engineers say the use of a manual transmission will increase the vehicle's range by keeping the motor in its efficiency "sweet spot" and allow the use of lower gearing for quicker acceleration and higher gearing for top speed. We'd imagine this "good old" approach is also easier than writing a bunch of controller software to extract the same outcomes from the motor.

The project is naturally getting some help from the e-powers that be, namely a niche vehicle program managed by CENEX, a UK-based public-private partnership that supports initiatives to further the cause of lower-carbon vehicles.
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Tim Stevens Profile
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


I've been lucky enough to drive all the major EVs in mass production today for the US market (even the poseurs, like the Volt) and there's a HUGE amount of potential here. Lack of maintenance is, for me, a major bonus. Efficiency is another -- imagine if instead of having hundreds of moving parts in the drivetrain you had one!

Mike, regarding "Surely the electricity comes from somewhere" -- worst-case it comes from a coal plant. We're talking 30 - 40% efficiency of energy expelled (burning) in a coal plant to energy captured (electronics down a wire). In a typical ICE-powered car you're looking at about half that.

Even if you factor in losses in distribution of electricity the electric car is, at worst, as energy-efficient as a gas-powered car. Ignoring engineering simplicity the advantage here is that if we get everything using electricity we can focus on improving our electrical grid and boosting our use of renewables, which just drives up the ultimate efficiency. If we have a bunch of cars burning gas, some burning diesel, some on ethanol etc. etc. we have engineers trying to solve a couple-dozen efficiency problems instead of one.

And then there's the fact that most power plants are churning away generating electricity all night long that largely goes to waste! EVs recharging overnight would provide a good home to those electrons and, in some cases, could even provide it back to the grid during peak hours during the day (for a profit to the owner).

Sorry, hit a nerve. emoticon

-tim

p.s. If you think EV cars have potential, the power for EV motorcycles is even greater!

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Mike Kamm Profile
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


Excellent post, thanks for chiming in Tim. Might you have a link to any write ups and reviews you might have done following your road tests?

Was the Wheego LiFe one of the cars you drove? I'm interested in those. I also like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

BTW, this Sunday up in Montclair, NJ there is a big EV car meet.

http://montclair.patch.com/articles/biggest-electric-car-meet-up-this-week-in-montclair

Last edited by Mike Kamm, 6/2/2013, 11:07 pm
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Tim Stevens Profile
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


The Wheego I haven't had a chance to drive yet, but that company is in dire shape. I don't think they'll survive long, sadly.

I spent a day in a MiEV but unfortunately never got to write it up. It's a good little car, weak in power but still kind of fun to drive. Cheapest of the mainstream pure EVs at the moment, I believe. US version is a little wider than the European version. (Insert joke about Super Sizing here.)

Leaf is a solid little car too, but not that much more impressive than the MiEV.

My early impressions on a Volt:
http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/05/chevy-volt-preview-escape-from-dc-in-todays-car-of-tomorrow/

I later spent about a week with one and found it to be a surprisingly nice car. Spendy, but quite nice and reasonably fun to drive, too.

Haven't driven the Focus Electric yet, but I did get a quick spin in one:
http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/12/ford-takes-us-on-the-worlds-shortest-test-drive-in-the-focus-el/

Got a slightly longer (and more exciting) ride in the upcoming Tesla Model S:
http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/06/tesla-model-s-test-ride-and-factory-tour-video/

Volvo C30 Electric test drive:
http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/25/volvo-c30-electric-test-drive-video/

I just got to drive the VW eGolf too, which hasn't appeared on the site yet. Very well-equipped car, reasonably peppy. That'll be in an upcoming Engadget Show segment.

And my review of the current king of the EV road, the Tesla Roadster:
http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/01/tesla-roadster-2-5-sport-review/

Sadly discontinued emoticon

Last edited by Tim Stevens, 4/12/2012, 2:05 am


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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


Nice articles Tim.

Mike, one of the best write ups and something I would want to have if I did it myself was this site: http://www.metricmind.com/ac_honda/main2.htm

CRX would be a killer platform. Also he used capacitors as well as batteries, which I think is an awesome idea, quickly charge during severe braking and able to quickly release energy, leaving batteries for extended driving.

The thing is, reading that, even DIY is prohibitive. The motor he used was $2k and the inverter was $3.8k. I have been collecting, planning, reading, toying forever and had always wanted to try to build my own inverter (because $150 in part is cheaper than $3.8k) and start with second hand or rewound motors, maybe in a motorcycle or something light.

Now what I'd like to see, I've been thinking about adding electric to an existing car, not so much as a hybrid, but more like a hypermiling aid. Again, another project that'll probably never happen...
But I have been toying with putting a stronger motor and hooking to the flywheel, so you end up kind of like Honda's IMA. The goal for me would be keep the car in 5th gear and <25MPH use only electric, I would think the engine wouldn't cause too much drag in 5th gear and I am only <25MPH very few times in a drive. Then I would want to have the engine die when I go to neutral, so I can easily EOC and sense if place the car in gear and use electric motor to rev-match the engine so when I drop clutch we're running already and rev-matched.

Of course it could use just electric if it wanted too (or basically electric assisted DFCO) and I can charge through it so I don't need the alternator. I would think it would help me in around town and stop&go congestion, two spots I get severely killed right now.

If you want to start playing around or make a kit or share reading about DIY stuff let me know. I have read tons but have trouble finding time (or money) to play with all the kids around.
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


A fellow on the ZX2 site(teamzx2.com) did a conversion sometme ago. did a complete write up. Haven't heard any more about it.

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Mike Kamm Profile
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


quote:

ZX2 2000 wrote:

time needed to recharge.
Batteries going bad.
Electrical connections corroding
Relays etc not working properly.
Gassing from the batteries, highly explosive.
Reduced range in cold weather due to less output from the batteries.
added load from the heater, lights and wipers.
then there is the problem of heat.
No boost for the brakes,
Probably no power steering.
Just some negatives to think about. emoticon

Richard, thanks for chiming in. Everything I read in the EV world sounds so wonderful, it's good to have some counter points to keep things balanced. A few of the items you listed are not a problem in the factory built EV's, but yes they do apply to a home built or converted gas car. Gassing from lead acid batteries, no boost for the brakes, no power assist for the steering, extra load for wipers, heater, and lights, etc. could be a problem for a converted gas car, but none of those are a problem to a factory designed car like the Leaf or MiEV. The Leaf has a separate battery for the accessories so range is not affected. In addition to the main 24 kW·h lithium ion battery, the Leaf also has an auxiliary 12-volt lead–acid battery that provides power to the car computer systems and accessories such as the audio system, supplemental restraint systems, headlights and windshield wipers. The SL model also has a small solar panel on the rear spoiler helps to charge the accessory battery. And it's got LED headlamps that use 50% less power than conventional halogens. Pretty cool stuff but again, not cheap.
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Re: Electric Cars - are you ready for them?


Just wanted to say, Mike, that a converted gas car could do the same. If you know your range, a single deep cycle 12v battery probably would do perfectly for all the remaining 'stock' accessories. I didn't realize LED headlights were that main stream yet, I have bought LED Foglights that worked awesome, but getting the 3-4x more light to be a headlight I thought was problematic.

The more I think about it though, I'm not sure what having a separate battery for the accessories would do you for you. You would have to charge it, same as the main pack and if you didn't use any accessories then it's just 'wasted' energy storage that could increase your range. I think having the inverter pull out 12v for the few times accessory power is needed might make more sense, you could still trickle charge the main pack with some solar and take advantage of regenerative braking.

As for the rest, since when do any of 'us' hypermilers use cars with power steering? :-) Brakes could be an issue I guess, unless you used an electric vacuum pump, but again, inefficient. With well done regen braking you shouldn't need stock brakes much. Actually: http://www.metricmind.com/ac_honda/vacuum.htm He used a vacuum pump and I forgot about the fact you could have a vacuum reservoir and just cycle the pump as needed. If you never tap the brakes you will never run the pump (in a fully sealed system).
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