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  #1  
Old 05-23-2012, 05:46 AM
Firefly2005 Firefly2005 is offline
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Default Karmann Ghia Conversion

Right. This is only a beginning, and I know literally nothing about EV conversion, except little bits that I've read over the last couple of weeks.

I am ok with a spanner and can maintain a VW with no problem. Electrical knowledge non-existent but I'll learn

I have a 1969 VW Karmann Ghia (basically a prettier Beetle with slight modifications to chassis for larger body) that was my first car and is currently sat under a barn - I'm a bit sentimental with cars and always wanted to buy one and then keep it forever... However it's just been costing a lot and been impractical for daily driving as it has quite high fuel bills... so I'm currently driving a brand new little Seat Ibiza (70mpg) that is great but so so so boring.

Then I started reading about EV conversion - seems to be an ideal option if you want cheap running costs, no guilt about fossil fuel usage, and keeping a classic running and having it reasonably practical. Will keep an ICE car for longer journeys.

Now I don't want that much in the way of specifics, just answers to the following questions, assuming I have approx $30k to spend in the next few years (good professional job and no debts).

1. Is there a standard build that has become the respected best option for VW beetles/Karmann Ghias?

2. Using lithium, what range/ top speed can I expect? I'd want to be able to get to about 70mph ideally just so I could take it on a motorway if necessary.

3. AC or DC? and why?

I have had a bit of a look and I've seen there is one person on here who has done a Karmann Ghia conversion and seems very knowledgeable but I haven't been able to find a build thread and I wasn't sure if things have changed since his EV conversion was done...

And hi! Please don't eat me alive because I'm a novice. I know a lot of the answers are already on this forum, but if people have the time to write answers, I'd appreciate it - part of the fun of forums is the interaction. My knowledge will expand massively once I start seriously researching this - I was just interested to know what the possibilities are...
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  #2  
Old 05-23-2012, 10:29 AM
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corbin corbin is offline
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Default Re: Karmann Ghia Conversion

Hi Firefly,
Most the questions you have asked I have answered on my website for my '69 bug:

http://www.corbinstreehouse.com/blog/plug-bug/

Be sure to go back a bunch of pages to my original posts.

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Old 05-23-2012, 11:01 AM
lowcrawler lowcrawler is offline
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Default Re: Karmann Ghia Conversion

1) From my perspective, Corbin's bug is the defacto standard when it comes to well-done VW conversions. ... with the exception of the Soliton being more common as the controller (though, the NetGain is perfectly good). I followed, more or less, his build (though I went with half the battery pack adn a Soliton Jr) and am perfectly happy with the results. I know others have done the same.

2) your top speed is going to be a factor of many things (controller, battery pack voltage, etc) but if you follow any of the standard conversions (144+V, 100+ah, 600+A controller, 9+" motor, etc) you should be able to cruise at 70mph just fine. I can with my beetle until over-heating de-rates my admittedly-small and air-cooled controller (which is after about 3-4 miles on a hot day... and never happens on a cold day).
Your range is going to be limited by how much lithium you put in the car - my $6k pack (48 100ah CALB cells) safely takes me 40 miles. Corbin has a much larger range. From my research, it's not realistic to expect more than 100miles on a old-school VW chassis due to weight limits.

3) DC, imho. It's my understanding that DC is cheaper and simpler and the benefits of AC (regen) only get you about 10% more range while costing considerably more than 10% more to implement. That said, with a 30k budget, depending on your range desires, AC w/regen might be in the cards.
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Old 05-23-2012, 11:05 AM
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corbin corbin is offline
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Default Re: Karmann Ghia Conversion

Some more notes:

I would have gone with a Soliton Jr if it was available at the time. It would have been fine for my conversion as I limit the Netgain controller to 700 amps, and don't use it all that often. It also tends to overheat a bit when doing big hill climbs (note: Netgain Control's v2 controller is much better at cooling).

An alternative to the Warp9/DC controller is the use of a Curtis Controller and HPEV AC50 motor. It is a little weaker, but gives you regen. I've heard that Curtis will soon have a 144v controller, and HPEV will have a stronger motor; definitely look into those options.

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Old 05-23-2012, 11:25 AM
Firefly2005 Firefly2005 is offline
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Default Re: Karmann Ghia Conversion

Thanks for the well thought out replies.

Corbin I've been looking at your beetle and firstly - it's beautiful But I'm sure a few people have told you that already. It's good to see the quality of installation that can be achieved.

Obviously there are some compromises and issues that have arisen which while they must have been annoying to you will help those who follow after you (like me).

It seems you've had issues with the drivetrain basically being hammered by the high torque? So I guess making sure you have a rebuilt gearbox, new CV joints, maybe an uprated clutch etc would be ideal before starting - making me think that a tired drivetrain would have issues... or just resign yourself to replacing 40yr old components operating outside their design tolerances as they fail with high frequency I suppose.

Did the bug end up being just on the borderline of being overweight with 2 people in the car? And did you upgrade to disc brakes all round - I haven't found that yet in your blog, though you seemed to be saying they were wearing faster than normal. Anything special in the way of brake discs and pads?

I'm totally unfamiliar with all the brand names of the electrical bits of kit you just mentioned them so I'll be looking those up.

Very impressed with the 100mile range and high top speed. And reassuring to know lowcrawler that you can get a reasonable range with a lot less lithium and weight too. I suppose by the time I actually get to the EV conversion bit (rather than the just restoration aspects I'll have to focus on first), that the batteries will be cheaper and lighter - been reading about graphene and how by 2014 we should be getting batteries with 3-10x the capacity... (www.clbattery.com). So if I'm driving the same car in 10 years we'll probably be talking of 500mile ranges... good to know things will improve rather than knowing that the petrol prices are always going to go up making keeping the car less sensible... (it's been what's keeping me from committing to and starting work on the car).

Anyway - thanks for the post - Corbin - your blog has done more than anything to convince me it could be a longterm practical commuter - and will only get better with time as the technology progresses.

Thanks

Last edited by Firefly2005; 05-23-2012 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 05-23-2012, 11:31 AM
Firefly2005 Firefly2005 is offline
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Default Re: Karmann Ghia Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly2005 View Post

Did the bug end up being just on the borderline of being overweight with 2 people in the car? And did you upgrade to disc brakes all round - I haven't found that yet in your blog, though you seemed to be saying they were wearing faster than normal. Anything special in the way of brake discs and pads?

Thanks
I just found the info on the front page about brakes - so you don't need to bother answering that
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