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Discussion Starter #1
I'm about to start an EV conversion for primary reason of having fun with my 12 yo son who loves science and being green. I have as much knowledge of cars/mechanics/electiricty as an EV has emissions! I'm reading books.

I'm looking for the easiest vehicle to convert. I'll buy a kit. I'm trying to keep the cost below $20K, keeping in mind the only tools I have now are screwdrivers, pliers, a wrench and a hammer.

My goal is to use this to commute up to 15 miles. I expect to be able to plug in at work. But I'd like a reliable 30mi range. I think I need a 45mph top speed to keep in the flow of traffic. It's hilly where I drive (North Atlanta).

It seems the Chevy S10 is as good a donor vehicle as any if ease of conversion is an issue (and it is in my case), though I have no use for a pickup and would prefer a four seater (2 adults, 2 kids). Is this true? I know nothing about putting in bigger, better breaks and changing suspension.

Any advice on sources of kits?

Is this the right forum to post questions and pictures when I need help. I'm going to want to ask a lot of questions. Thanks.

Anyone think I should NOT do this project? (Speak now). Additional info: I'm giving myself 18 months and have a supportive wife. I am willing to outsource some stuff (e.g. engine removal). I recognize that I could buy one cheaper and easier (but that doesn't achieve the #1 goal). In fact, it looks like some great vehicles are coming to the market (aptera etc).
 

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Saturn
very easy cheap donor cars available , 4 seater light weight easy 120-156 volt system

did I mention cheap??

Brian
 
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VW Ghia, Light weight able to handle a bit of weight in batteries and aerodynamic, Simple, Easy to convert, and Real Cool. You can do a conversion with out cutting any metal. You will most likely be drilling a few holes but over all you can keep it stock or you can modify it to a real cool ride. Besides I have done mine on a budget but it's not a budget conversion. $3200 so far invested and that includes the vehicle. My server is down right now but you can check out my site later.

Pete : )

PS. No need buy a kit. Just be frugal and you can have a nice conversion. Some things will need to be new and your conversion may be more. I am spending more for an upgrade. My car will do 65 mph and it is 72 volts and 550 amps. 9" GE motor.
 

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Anything for which a kit is available is probably a good choice. There are two kinds of kits you will see sold for EV conversions. There are generic kits, which don't go to a particular vehicle so they include everything but batteries, battery racks, and the motor adapter plate. The idea is to at least give you all the standard components in one bunch. Then there are vehicle specific kits, which have the battery racks and motor adapter, but there are only a few vehicles out there for which these are available. You always will source the batteries locally but there are battery distributors everywhere.

Geo metros are very easy to convert and many have been done, and there are 4 seat versions. I don't know if there is a kit sold though. Often they involve body work (cutting holes in the floor pans for batteries) so maybe you will want to avoid them for that reason.

older VW rabbits are 4 seaters and you can buy a kit from electro automotive that has everything but the batteries. Just be patient with them, they are veeeery slow.

At one point there was a kit available for the dodge neon from canev.com I think.

I know I've seen S-10 kits and I may have seen ford ranger kits too, but not sure on that last one.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If I do a 'generic' conversion, how do a get a motor adapter and battery racks fabricated?

Would you agree or disagree with the following: Pickups are easier because their frame is designed for the heavier load of the batteries so you don't have to mess with improving the breaks and suspension.

Thanks for these replies.
 

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many cars / trucks have models with larger brakes . if you find a don er with the bigger engine or towing package or the hot rod models . in a 4 door , I like the small Mercedes 4 door with a V8 from about 1992 on . not common out side the big cities . but with a bad trans or engine will be on the way to the crusher . with batteries getting cheaper weight is not as expensive as it was . they end up weighing just a little more after stripping out the heavy interior .
 
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If I do a 'generic' conversion, how do a get a motor adapter and battery racks fabricated?

Would you agree or disagree with the following: Pickups are easier because their frame is designed for the heavier load of the batteries so you don't have to mess with improving the breaks and suspension.

Thanks for these replies.
It kinda looks like you are focused on the S-10 conversion. I'd say then stick with that as you can build a tilt bed and fabricate battery boxes between the frames and you have the ability to distribute the weight properly and maybe even better than stock for the best handling. The adaptor plate will either be fully custom or you may be able to find a good used one somewhere. Not as likely but it won't hurt to look. It also depends upon what motor you decide to use. Batteries are going to be another thing you will ponder over for awhile because of the diversity of what you can choose from out there. We all have our opinions and many are not worth buying. There are plenty of web sites to help you figure out how to do the conversion and many are S-10 specific. Go over to EVDL and have a look at the S-10's that have been converted. Go look at all the sites available and by all means look at as many conversions as possible. It is also just great inspiration to see and will help keep you on track and moving forward : )

Pete : )

I too thought of doing an S-10 more than once. Still might later down the road. Slammed, bagged and all electric. : )
 

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If you have a budget of $20k then you will have room to go with light lithium batteries and to outsource the harder metalworking without stretching it at all. A welder will be able to fabricate the battery racks and a machinist will make the adapter plate. After that it is just a matter of what car you want to drive. S10 were for great for long ranges when lead was the only option but lithium has made pretty much any car (that isn't a tank) accessible for an EV conversion. Where do you live? It might be possible to get a few EV enthusiasts in your area to help with the hard bits just for the experience. Also, if you could buy an older gas car to do the same task what would you pick? Then we can tell you if it will be suitable, because it most likely is.

Despite your lack of experience you are coming to this with realistic requirements, plenty of room in your budget and a humble attitude, its a breath of fresh air. I think you should definitely go ahead with it! Go to kiwiev.com to see how someone with no experience and limited skills can put together a great EV.
 

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If I do a 'generic' conversion, how do a get a motor adapter and battery racks fabricated?
Either make them or have them made. with battery boxes, depending on the vehicle it can be quite easy. For example with a pickup the simplest solution is to just carry the batteries in the bed, in which case a solidly built wood box will suffice. (leave room for insulation!)

The adapter plate can be purchased from various sources or you can have a local machine shop build one. It is possible to make one but you need good fabrication skills and more than the basic shop equipment to do it.

Would you agree or disagree with the following: Pickups are easier because their frame is designed for the heavier load of the batteries so you don't have to mess with improving the breaks and suspension.
Agree. the tradeoff is a larger, heavier, less aerodynamic vehicle than you could get if you were to pick an aerodynamic car chassis and work harder to cram the same amount of batteries into it. But pickup-based EVs can still be very useful and practical, and you can compensate for the weight and aero disadvantages by just adding more batteries.
 

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I would seriously think about a Toyota MR2. 1 several people have converted them. 2. they already have an electric steering pump removing a major piece of engineering you will have to do. Good Luck.
 

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Only the 2nd generation and later MR2's (1990 and up) have electric PS pumps. The 1st generation ones are manual steering only.

Speaking for the 1st generation models, you can get 16 to 18 6V golf cart batteries into the car without major body modifications IF you sacrifice the trunk space. Otherwise it starts to get pretty extreme to get that many batteries in (see URL below, I have 21 golf cart batteries and still have a usable trunk in my MR2). Battery racks are fairly simple except for what will go in the engine compartment. What goes in there is not complicated, but basic welding/fabrication skills would be good. Adapter plate is nothing out of the ordinary.

http://www.amphibike.org/index.cgi?page=pages/3_wheels/mr2/batteryRacks
 

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If I do a 'generic' conversion, how do a get a motor adapter and battery racks fabricated?
motor adaptors are either with or without clutch. Several places stock 'common' conversions like geos, s-10s, and more. CanEV.com has lots of experience and a good portfolio on hand. The also have a coule (expensive to ship) pre-fab battery racks for the geos and perhaps others. Otherwise you MAY need to find a local welder.



Would you agree or disagree with the following: Pickups are easier
yes. lots more room, ease of racking, and higher GWVR. You MAY have to add pump for power steering depending on donor.
 

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I would spend a couple hunderd bucks and buy a wire feed welder. Sometimes you can find them at pawnshops. Go with a name brand if buying used. They are easy to use, with a little practice, anybody could use one. I made my battery boxes out of 1 1/4 angle iron. It is small enough that you could cut that with a skil saw with a metal cutting blade. I agree that a Bug or Ghia is easiest to convert. No motor support required, no PS or PB to deal with, and lots of kits available.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
MR2 Interesting....A quick glance of Craigslist shows a 1987 MR2 for $850. Does the year/model matter? Do I need to improve the brakes and suspension? If so how hard is that?

Since I don't know what I'm doing, I'm looking for instructions/pictures and videos.
 

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For my conversion, I chose a 1994 Toyota Tercel. I came from a similar background as yourself - I was not en electrical expert and one of the farthest things from a car guy you'll ever meet.

Here is why I chose the Tercel:

  • It's a light vehicle - 1950lbs with the gas engine in it. Lighter weight generally means greater efficiency. Also, since it's a light car I did not have to do any additional work on the braking system for the car to stop properly. The heavier the car, the more money you must spend on batteries to achieve the same performance you'd get with a lighter car.
  • It was a simple car to begin with - no a/c, no PS, no on board computer...
  • It did NOT have power steering - this again means there is one less thing to deal with. The car was engineered to handle correctly without the additional use of power - this to me meant it would be stable after the conversion. This seemed safer than simply not hooking up the PS on another vehicle.
  • It had a standard transmission.
  • It fit my budget.
  • Considering the points above, I like the looks of the car.
I received a blank adapter plate for the motor when I bought my kit and I sent them the clutch plate and they fabricated me a shaft coupler also. Everything was included in the price I paid for the kit.

My aim was similar to yours - I wanted a rather simple conversion that I could do as a project and maybe have some fun in the process. I feel pretty good that I achieved both of these goals. Because of the reasons above, I honestly feel that this was a pretty easy/textbook conversion. Now that I'm on my second summer with the car, I can go back through and fine tune things a bit.

I hope this helps, and best of luck to you and your son! You're going to have a blast!
 
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