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Discussion Starter #1
I am trying to decide which type donor vehicle I should be on the lookout for: a small car (Escort, Civic, etc,) or small truck (S10, Ranger, etc.) for my first (and possibly only, at least in the foreseeable future) conversion project.

I know a truck project will be easier and will give me more haulin' capacity for the batteries, and the batteries will be located outside of the vehicle's passenger compartment. On the other hand a small car will probably be more aerodynamic, will begin with a smaller curb weight, and will probably just look more stylish (in my opinion), but the conversion will likely be more mechanically complex, especially for me, the newbie.

I figure that a small truck will have a lesser range (miles) than a car, but this could possibly be offset by a larger battery pack, taking advantage of the larger payload capacity - true?

Suspension mods on a truck rear end will likely be easier (at least easier to get to...)

So what do all you experts think? As long as I have not yet acquired either style of donor vehicle, now's the time to sort out all the trade factors. Notwithstanding the "sex appeal" question, it seems that a truck is the better choice. But that one question of appearance/styling does loom large.

Steve
 

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Car car car.

Only because they look better in my opinion. Utes or "Trucks" look uninviting and generally only have front seats. My whole argument is visually based so if aesthetics aren't an issue then sure, a ute is more practical for a conversion vehicle.

But, if you want to impress the ladies or traditionally non-car people, choose a good looking car! Good looking utes are too expensive and rare.
 

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Agreed. I was originally trying to avoid a front wheel drive car as I thought it would be too hard to attach the motor. I've since learned that it's just as easy to convert a front wheel drive car.
So, if you're put off with the thought of converting a front wheel drive car (like I was) DON'T BE! :) It's as easy to do as Liberace could play the piano.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I was originally thinking about converting a little Geo Metro hatchback (1990-1994 model years), which comes in at about 1850 lbs curb weight and offers about a 800 lb payload capacity.

I think that after I pull the engine, etc, I might be able to get about 800-1000 lbs of batteries in it, but I figure at that, I will be at or slightly above max GVWR for this little car.

I expect I will still need to add some helper springs to get the ride height back up to original, and uprated tires for improved handling, right?

Am I off-base?

Steve
 

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It doesn't really make a tremendous amount of difference as far as difficulty goes. My first conversion was a Mazda pickup, and I'm currently working on a Toyota Tercel. I think the Tercel may actually be easier. I would probably go for a car. Mounting a transverse motor is easier than a rwd setup, you'll get better performance, and the car will be a lot more fun.

One suggestion, though- don't try and pick a particular make and model, and then go searching for one. Instead, just look at a class of cars. Much easier to find one meeting your requirements (condition, location, etc.). You'll know the car when you see it. Kind of a "love at first sight" thing. :D
 

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When I was considering a vehicle for my conversion I took a long hard look at trucks and came very close to going that way. I liked the Mitsubishi Triton L300 Ute 2WD single cab. I figured I could make a cool custom truck out of one of those. I could buy ridged polyurethane foam sheets and sculpt an old fashion coupe back style tray cover and fibreglass it top and bottom to make it ridged and light weight. I even thought of making a tray cover that looked like giant dry cells were in the tray but I digress. The main reason for considering the Ute was its huge payload. I could build a truck with over 45% of its final weight being batteries and not exceed it GVWR and this would translate into a range of around 150 km though I would have gone some what smaller than that and kept some payload as payload. The Tritons weigh about 1400kg and can carry 1300kg. The thing about big battery packs and long range EV's is because the battery drain is slower (longer in time) the charge recovery from the pack is better so you win both ways.
A couple of things killed the idea for me. I couldn't get past that industrial suspension and its detriment to the vehicles handling or the fact that I would be driving much more vehicle than I needed to fulfil my needs and that’s effect on the economics of the whole thing. It is more economic to buy an appropriately sized battery so that you use its available capacity (to about 80% DOD) on a regular basis than to shallow discharge your pack all the time. So I went with a car in the end and chose the lightest one I could find with the biggest payload. I'll see how that works out when I'm a bit further along.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks John, I am reaching the same "light car" conclusion on this end. Can you say which vehicle (make/model) you finally chose for the conversion?

Steve
 

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I bought a 94 Hyundai Accent Sedan. This car does have some draw backs the biggest being its size and the difficulty this is creating getting the batteries to fit. Also I couldn't find a manual steering rack to fit. It weights about 935kg with a GVWR of about 1455kg giving a payload of about 520kg. Another possibility is a similar vintage Mitsubishi Mirage which has a payload of about 550kg or a Toyota Corolla Sedan about 96 year which has a payload of about 540kg. The Corolla is about 100kg heavier than the Hyundai and the Mirage is about 50kg heavier. It surprised me how many larger cars have a payload of only around 350kg. My batteries will weigh that leaving nothing for driver or passengers.
 

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I added the geo metro to the donor car selection wiki, its getting to be quite a big list! I also added John's three cars.John, do you have a website for your EV? I couldn't find any accent conversions to link to. Also if anyone has seen a mitsubishi mirage conversion let me know as well. I am planning a car conversion for my first EV, probably a honda CRX, mazda RX7 or Toyota MR2.
 
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