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Old 12-30-2010, 12:04 AM
EValaska907 EValaska907 is offline
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Default Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

I'm very new to all of this, but very interested in converting my 2003 Honda pilot to an EV. I have little to no experience in auto mechanics or electronics, but do have friends that work in the industry willing to help. I would like to keep it AWD as it is and get anywhere from 60 - 100 miles per charge. I would also like it to still be able to pull maybe a small boat. Hope that's not impossible. I'm really not sure how much to expect to spend, but I'm hoping anywhere from $10,000 to no more $20,000 to fully convert it. I live in Alaska so it also needs to be able to work in extreme cold conditions. What kind of motor should I use? How much should I expect to spend? Please help with any info you can provide.

Thank you!
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:44 AM
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

Welcome to the site EValaska907. I highly suggest reading the site and going through the info here. With the specs you are looking at, your battery pack alone will cost you $20k.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:06 AM
EValaska907 EValaska907 is offline
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

Wow really? Is that because of the distance I want or the size of the vehicle? How much would a battery like that weigh? Do you have any suggestions on what kind of motor to use or what I should expect to spend on it?
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

Just as a ballpark guess, given the 4000# plus weight, AWD, and wanting 60+ mile range you are talking about at least 156v worth of 200ah cells, or perhaps a parallel pack of 160ah cells..... $15k or so, plus $7k of electrics with an 11" DC motor and middle of the road 500amp controller like a Curtis, plus some skilled labor for the welding and whatnot. Going AC or with high end controller or charger would drive the price up significantly more...

oh... and is the Pilot standard or automatic?
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Last edited by dtbaker; 12-30-2010 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:21 PM
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

You could (and would have to) build insulated battery boxes as well in your situation. These don't dramatically add to the cost of a conversion (insulation and heaters are cheap) but they would add to the volume necessary for batteries.

However, winter driving means more energy used for heat, defrosting, wipers, lights, etc. And you will likely be plowing through rain and (in your case lots of) snow and all this going on at once can impact electric range by 20 to 30 percent easy. AWD will be a 5 to 10% tax on range as well but in your case maybe a requirement.

One thing that might be working in your favor: What kind of speeds are you looking at for that 60 mile (minimum) range? If it is mostly at non-freeway speeds (secondary roads and such) and not too hilly you might be able to get away with a somewhat smaller battery pack than if you wanted that 60 mile range at 60mph. As a real world example, my MR2 can do 50 to 60 miles at 60mph straight and level. If I could drive continuously at 40mph under the same conditions instead (depending on where in AK you live, quite possibly a more realistic situation for you than for me) the range would be in excess of 100 miles easy. This effect is largely due to the square law of wind drag (doubling speed quadruples wind drag) but also in my case there is a factor due to the lead acid batteries and their peukert effect which would be much less pronounced with lithium batteries.

You could also consider a smaller vehicle. As for towing, a "small" boat is a relative term but assuming no more than 2 or 3 thousand pounds there are smaller vehicles that would still seat 4 and tow the boat after being converted.

If you do have significant hills, then with the towing requirement an AC drivetrain might be very well advised for the Regenerative Braking ability. There is no "engine braking" in the typical DC powered EV. At the very least, ensure the boat trailer has brakes.

I am starting to theorize what my second EV is going to look like, and I want it to be able to seat 4, tow around 2000lbs and have decent cargo space. In other words, similar to what you are thinking. FWIW here is my very preliminary plan: I intend to use a solectria AC55 for the motor with direct drive using around a 6:1 gear ratio, and enough batteries for a 100 mile nominal range at freeway speed (at least 30KwH usable) My very preliminary current list of candidate vehicles: Pontiac Aztek (the heaviest but also with the most fat to lose up front, and also my favorite at this point), PT cruiser, Chevrolet HHR, Mazda 5, Scion xB (by far the lightest). I am expecting to be spending around $25K on the build, mostly for the batteries. I already have the motor and inverter (lucky craigslist buy) and I will recycle the manzanita charger from my current car.

Good luck
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Last edited by madderscience; 12-30-2010 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 12-31-2010, 02:01 AM
EValaska907 EValaska907 is offline
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

The pilot I'm planning to convert is a 5 speed automatic with a rear locking differential. So I should be looking for an ac drive system because of the area I live? There are a lot of hills around here and would hate to setup with a Dc system and then have problems uphill especially in the winter. Is there somewhere I can get prices and specs that would work? I'm sure this will make my venture a much more expensive one. I was looking at www.currentevtech.com. Would the 120kw BLDC motor work in my situation?
Thanks again for all the helpful info!
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by EValaska907 View Post
The pilot I'm planning to convert is a 5 speed automatic with a rear locking differential.
automatic is possible, but more complex and more expensive. you have to add a pump and get into the electronics to set shift points, etc.... there are threads on what is involved, and you'll see it complicates things.

If you decide to go AC you may be able to use fixed gearing and skip transmission to get around this issue, but you will sacrifice either low-end acceleration, or limit your top speed.....
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:29 PM
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

as for motor sizing, 120kw is about 160 horsepower. And dtbaker is right about the tranny. If you are going to keep it, go to a manual. You could possibly stay clutchless to keep the conversion simpler. You would use it more like a range selector: 2nd on the hills, 3rd on the flats most likely. Unless the pilot or a similar AWD system came with a manual, doing the swap might be a pain though. If your AWD transfer case has a low/high range though then there is your range selector.

The motor you are looking at has plenty of torque (635nm peak or about 450 foot pounds, yeesh) but a fairly low max RPM (5000) so if you were doing direct drive, a 6:1 gear ratio would be the best you could do. That would give you a maximum speed of about 65mph.

With all the hills you are back to needing a pretty hefty (but quite achievable) battery pack to get the range you want. If you assume a very conservative 500wh/mile with a boat in tow and some hills, a 30KwH usable capacity pack would give you 60 miles of range. Under better conditions (fewer hills, no boats) and not screaming along too fast that same battery pack might give 80 or 90 miles of range.

Good luck.
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Last edited by madderscience; 12-31-2010 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:39 PM
EValaska907 EValaska907 is offline
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

The shifter has gear 1, gear 2, gear 3, then drive. I know it also has a button you can push that switches the speed that the AWD will operate at (mainly used when stuck in snow). Would I be better off getting a project SUV with a manual transmission? Would it be easier in any way if I went with 2 drive systems, one for the front axle and one for the rear?
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:15 PM
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Default Re: Planning 03 Honda pilot conversion

Sounds like your pilot is true AWD without a low range in the transfer case.

Yes, a manually shifted vehicle is frequently a better candidate than an automatic, all else being equal.

Lots of people have talked abouit building hybrids out of AWD / 4WD vehicles by putting a motor on one end and leaving the ICE driveline on the other. A very few have actually done it. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has been really successful at it. My take on that approach is if you want a hybrid SUV, go buy one. The ford escape hybrid gets around 30mpg's I think. Not bad for an SUV.

BTW, I have been continuing my own research and it is pretty clear the best vehicle for conversion of the bunch I listed in an earlier post is the scion Xb. 0.8 CdA (m^2) and stock curb weight of about 1100kg or 2400lbs. The stock curb weight is comparable to my MR2's, and the CdA is not that bad. Many pickups, SUVs and Minivans are well above 1.00 in that measurement. The Aztek is at 1.36.

Good luck.
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Last edited by madderscience; 01-01-2011 at 11:22 PM.
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