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Discussion Starter #1
Guys, I don't know if this has been done but I am looking at converting a Merc sprinter or VW transporter in the near future.

Just planning at the moment but the logic is to have space to pack batteries safely underfloor to give a range of at least 50mi and top speed of 80mph, cruising 40mph.
Range to be extended by fitting up to 1kw of solar atop with plug in backup for overnight top up.

I am thinking of Li fe cells for endurance but open to suggestions, motor to be in the 100kw range as there will be weight to carry.

I am thinking to spend $10k on the vehicle out of a budget of $30k, is this doable?
The specs for the Mitsubishi PHEV hybrid show 12kw of batteries giving a cruising wattage of under 400w with a range of 40mi in metric Australia, I drove one and this was my inspiration.

Any and all info will be respected and followed, thank's in advance.:)
 

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A sprinter will be heavy with a large frontal area. Expect to be paying for a large motor, matching controller and quite a large pack, as well as a replacement for the existing transaxle/transmission if it's an automatic. This will be tougher than converting a pickup, but if your top speed goal is modest and you keep the transmission (you can read both sides of whether or not to keep the clutch) it should be possible- ordinary vans have made quite nice conversions before. But neglecting labour, and throwing away the 1kW of solar panels which are window dressing at most, you should be able to make it happen. I'd suggest though that you're more likely to meet your range goal within your budget with Leaf or Volt packs than with prismatic LiFePO4 cells, unless you plan to go all in with building your own controller and/or forklift motor. Note that range needs to be calculated at 70% depth of discharge- taking the cells below this point reduces cycle life sharply. For a first pass, weight of vehicle divided by ten is your mean consumption in Wh per mile, so you can cost the pack you'd need so you know how much budget you'd have left for the rest.

There is lots of information here if you have the time for the reading. If you wish to undertake a project like this, you'll need a lot of time anyway, and the time spent reading here will be well worth it! Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Interesting, I have read elsewhere that it is easier to use an auto gearbox so it looks like I have plenty of reading to do.
Fortunately I have time on my hands and I want to have as much info as possible before I start spending as I want this vehicle to last.

I can see that converting a small car would be simpler and cheaper but I want to overnight so need space.
Also, batteries need space too and it looks like I will need more than a few to get any kind of distance.

Has anyone used solar panels to charge their cars? we have plenty of sun over here so might as well put it to good use.

Speed isn't really a factor except I want to be able to keep up with traffic as this isn't a commuter, most roads are 50 mph or 70 mph out of town and that's where I am.

I will read through the forums and try and get a feel for this build as I don't need a white elephant and I still have the option of buying a hybrid and towing a trailer which kinda defeats the object.

:cool:
 

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A highway cruise with a vehicle like this might consume 400 Wh per mile. A kW of solar panels will not generate their full name plate capacity on a vehicle roof. Look up how many kWh per year you can expect per kW of panel nameplate capacity in your area- most jurisdictions post this information. I guarantee you that the charge you obtain from them all day will be like a drop in a bucket relative to how much power the vehicle will use when driving. Panels on a vehicle aren't worth the weight or cost. Panels on your house roof for charging are a much better idea.

Batteries take room but they also cost bucketfuls of money. Smaller and lighter vehicles are more practical e-vehicles. You want to go distance with a camper typically- unless you really want to do short hops with a night's stay in between at a location with power- then electric might make sense. If you're going to tow a trailer just to carry a motor-generator, keep the engine in the vehicle and lose the extra drag and wheel rolling resistance.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I see from browsing the net that while most conversions are runabouts there have been a number of vans converted but I haven't seen the specs for them.
It's beginning to look like a hybrid would make more sense as it's not so much the battery performance as the charging.

I will have a look at the feasibility of replacing the gearbox with a generator and using this to power an electric motor via a battery pack, this is basically how the Mitsubishi works and would make sense if applied to a van as the battery pack could be kept to a reasonable size and the motor placed in the drive train in front of the diff.
This would also negate the issues of power steering and braking and leave the aircon and heater functional.
There seem to be a number of options with motors, some being supplied with controllers and chargers as a unit and maybe this is the way to go.

I think after a bit of research that solar would be better used for the auxiliaries in a camper at today's level of tech but maybe in the future it would be an option.
There is no rush on this, it is a project that will be planned out and then built quickly rather than a garage filler but I am still open to suggestions if anyone wants to chip in with opinions or info.

:cool:
 

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We are just finishing a full Sprinter (Tesla style) conversion to all electric that has turned out pretty sweet, if you're still interested in conversion ideas. We actually are doing the permanent 1 kW rooftop solar, expandable up to 5kW while sitting / camping.
 
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