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  #1  
Old 01-26-2012, 05:44 PM
marklaken marklaken is offline
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Default '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

I recently bought an unfinished vw beetle electric conversion off craigslist and intend to follow through on a basic, short distance, fair weather, in-town, electric car for my wife. It'll be her birthday present which comes up in mid-May, so i got my work cutout for me. I am an air-cooled vw car restoration enthusiast and do all my own welding, mechanical, body, electrical, hydraulics, etc.

My goal is to put together a quality electric Beetle for as little cost as possible. It needs to go 40mph for 25% of the time, 30mph for 75% of the time, and have a range of 20 miles.

I want the vehicle to be stupid simple. For my non-mechanically inclined wife, I would like to just have a single outlet for the charger and a simple driver/car interface. I do not intend to install a voltmeter or amp meter. I would like to install a range indicator (I saw one for around $50 online somewhere).

My value system is as follows and will dictate my system purchases:
Safety > Durability > Simplicity > Range > Speed > Comfort

I am currently thinking of following through with the EV Wilderness setup of a 72 volt Alltrax 450Amp controller powering an ES-15A Series Motor (40HP peak, 12 HP continuous).

I already have the EV Wilderness VW adapter plate and shaft coupler for the ES-15A motor and also the throttle box and Kilovac EV200 Contactor (these parts came with the beetle).

Any other recommendations or thoughts on controller and/or motor?

I could use help sizing the batteries for my requirements. My general thought is either 9 - 8volt golf cart batteries or 12 -6volt golf cart batteries. Any opinions? Would 9 - 8v batteries cut it for my needs (I had read somewhere that 8v batteries need to be replaced more frequently (less charge cycle life). I had also read that a rule of thumb is about 3 miles/battery for in town driving - which I am sure is an oversimplification)

I also am torn between spending the money for a 72v to 12v converter for 12v accessories or maintaining a separate 12v deep cycle battery (came with the car) with a separate 12v charger (I have an old marine battery charger). Basically the converter option costs a couple hundred bucks, but is simpler to operate. Any major disadvantage to the converter? Better to spend my money elsewhere and stick with the second charger and battery which i already own? - Can I wire both chargers to one plug-in location? Does the 12v charger need to be connected/disconnected from the battery every time the 12v battery is charged?

I have not shopped for 72V battery chargers and am open to suggestions.

I am currently cleaning the body and repairing the floorboards. I have also ordered a front disc brake conversion to help stop the heavy beetle. No power steering, power brakes, AC or heat on VWs, so that part is really easy.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow...

Mark
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  #2  
Old 01-26-2012, 06:20 PM
piotrsko piotrsko is offline
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

Everybody here is going to try to convince you to run lithium chemistry batteries, citing all sort of nefarious schemes, but you won't be able to do really dirt cheap. Your conversion. I'm doing lead acid, and I don't care what they think. YMMV. Sounds like you have done some homework, which is a good thing. stick around some more, enjoy the forum, and welcome aboard. I am running 12 v batteries, because I think it suits the Kostov motor more, but the opinion is that if you have the room, the 6 or 8 v batteries are better. I went with an alternator since it was mostly dangling in the engine compartment waiting to be used. Others will chime in with their different thoughts soon and they are all valid for their application. remember YMMV..

Last edited by piotrsko; 01-26-2012 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:37 PM
marklaken marklaken is offline
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

Golf cart batteries are my only option at my price point - spend now or spend later, I guess I am in the spend later camp...I hope to do the entire conversion for under $4k. So far I have $750 invested in the car and partial conversion and $250 invested in a disc brake conversion. a quick online window shopping trip puts me around $1300 for motor and controller, $900 to $1200 on batteries, $300 on misc electric parts, and $400 on a charger.
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:30 PM
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

Quote:
Originally Posted by marklaken View Post
I do not intend to install a voltmeter or amp meter. I would like to install a range indicator (I saw one for around $50 online somewhere).

My value system is as follows and will dictate my system purchases:
Safety > Durability > Simplicity > Range > Speed > Comfort
I can't imagine an EV without Volt/amp meters. At least get a Volt meter. They don't have to cost that much, you can get digitals for $5-15.

8v golf cart batteries should work fine, but i don't know if you'll get the speed you need off just 72V.

12v charger should be fine, you can run it along with the pack charger and leave it connected, but check it for leakage. Some drain a little power from the batt when not plugged in.

Disk brake upgrade is great. Is yours the bolt on or spindle replace type?
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:30 PM
marklaken marklaken is offline
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

I put a couple pictures in an album.

Regarding meters, what advantage do the meters provide over a range meter? Is it for diagnostics?

Thanks for the heads up on the downside of the lead acid battery - is acid spray and venting an issue with a gel based lead battery? The decrease in performance at half charge is especially noteworthy and would push me to 12 - 6v batteries as my minimum criteria.

As far as Lithium, are there good sources for used lithium batteries and what are some of the more affordable charger makes/model. I will have to do some research here...

I know I won't need a 65 mph car, but I would want acceleration to be acceptable for street use (35 mph streets with lots of stoplights). I have old vws and am used to being the slowpoke, but will my general setup be worse than say a split window bus (0-40 mph in about 30 seconds)?
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:32 AM
madmike8 madmike8 is offline
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

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Originally Posted by gottdi View Post
For your needs. Your needs are really not realistic. In real world driving you will want a vehicle that can do freeway speeds with no problem. You will want to be able to scoot out fast if needed. Not that you must have it but for safety sake you don't want a slug of a car. It leaves a sour impression on people.
I drive every day 12-15 miles round trip for 10 years now. My max speed is 45mph. My car hasn't hit 65 mph since the first week I bought it. What's not realistic? What's not real world about that? Maybe a <65mph car doesn't fit your needs, but for some of us it does...

I'm with ya on the lithiums though... Small (low speed-short range) lithium packs are not that expensive. 50-60ah CALBs or Headways is what I'm looking at, but I'll have a lighter car.
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Old 01-27-2012, 05:30 AM
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

Lead/acid batteries.....Been there-done that-bought the tee shirt, got the tattoo and class ring....

1-Do NOT buy the batteries with the top-threaded posts. They pull out, loosen up in the lead and burn off because they are good for 75 amps max...get the traditional tapered lead post type.

2-They require service every 4-6 weeks. water, cleaning and retorque posts.

Otherwise, they make a great MK-1 vehicle. Your learner. Something to be constantly improved on. {little things}

Yes, most chargers will leak back somewhat when unplugged. Not much, they just do. You can use a charging relay to stop this. Have it turn on when the car is plugged in. Then kick out when unplugged. Simple. Use an AC line voltage motor contactor.

Everyone has a "first" EV. It really changes the way you think about most everything.

Miz
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:58 AM
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Yabert Yabert is offline
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

Well, lead acid is your choice!
Lithium can cost 2-2.5k$ instead of 1k$ but will weight a third and take half place.
Anyway, you can expect the upgrade to lithium in a year or so if she like the car....

72v can be fine for a low speed conversion, but I suggest to you to go for the new line of SPM Alltrax controller. They have integrated cooling systems and seem better than Axe series for a similar price.

Also, I have a D&D ES-15-A comming from my motorcycle to sold... If you are interested: http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums...ad.php?t=56797

Selected the right gear can be important for the proper life of motor because the car will probably be able to start and maintain speed in third gear all the time, but motor will suffer of overheating.
Maintain high rpm (>3000) can be important for small motor for proper cooling.
So how do you think she will drive the car?
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:05 AM
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Ziggythewiz Ziggythewiz is offline
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

Quote:
Originally Posted by marklaken View Post
Regarding meters, what advantage do the meters provide over a range meter? Is it for diagnostics?

I have old vws and am used to being the slowpoke, but will my general setup be worse than say a split window bus (0-40 mph in about 30 seconds)?
Definitely for diagnostics, but also for driving. What range meter are you looking at? The issue there is that range is a factor of many things, which can be difficult for an electronic device to figure out. With a voltmeter and experience you know what range you have left based on the sag (For lead, for lithium you need to measure in and out).

Being used to a slug you should be fine performance-wise. I don't know your motor specs, but running my 31B on 120V lead I can do 0-40 in ~6 sec.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:27 AM
marklaken marklaken is offline
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Default Re: '69 VW Beetle Electric Grocery Getter on the cheap

Thanks for the input everyone. I already know more than I did after about a year of casual internet searching regarding EV conversions. One thing I forgot about was the tax credit for converting a car to electric. Does anyone know when that tax credit phases out (Is it still 10% and is it still good for 2012?) - perhaps that could help me get to lithium ion batteries...

in regards to disc brakes, it is a quick bolt in swap on post '66 beetles which have ball joint front suspension.
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