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Will this project happen!?

  • Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Votes: 7 36.8%
  • Yes! And how can I help make it happen!?

    Votes: 7 36.8%
  • Yes, but, it will be late and over-budget

    Votes: 3 15.8%
  • Seriously? You have no idea what you are getting into.

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • A snowball's chance....

    Votes: 2 10.5%
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Hey Guys,

Recently a couple of documentary film-makers came to visit me.

They are starting work on a feature length film about building an electric car, and driving it cross country.

They were in the area, and visited a few of my friends who have built electric cars. They spent a whole Sunday afternoon at my place. I even showed them my electric riding lawn-mower. We drove in my Electric Geo Metro to the old-timey drive-in burger joint and everything.

So here's the thing. None of them have ever even BUILT an electric car before, let alone one designed for a cross-country road trip!

They asked me to be the builder! I foolishly said "Yes". My only experience is that I've built one electric motorcycle and one electric car - just a short-range economy cruiser!

I have a fair number of friends who have build electric cars, including guys who are master mechanics and electric engineers - neither of which I am. I do have some experience with home-brew, open-source controllers, but have never worked with Lithium batteries before, which I think are nearly mandatory for this project.

If I have any regrets at all about my Electro-Metro conversion, it's that it's not a "cool" car. I always thought that if I did another conversion, I would want it to be a high-performance sports car, convertible, or muscle car.

For this project, they really want to do something "All-American" - whatever exactly that means - it's a little different to every person I think.

So here's the challege - build an electric car and drive it across country, as a summer project - GO!

If this is going to happen, I am going to need to call in every favor I have ever made for anyone. I'm going to need a lot of help from my friends, and every bit of moral support as I can.
Remember that whole Automotive X-Prize thing? Well, they had more than three months to work on it, and a bigger budget to boot. No million dollar prize either - just the pride in proving that a home-built electric car can do anything you need it to, including a ride down Route 66!

A "Trailer" for the film concept is at the top of this page. Keep in mind that the film doesn't exist yet. The car doesn't exist yet. The movie will be about the entire process and the people working on this project.

The "Trailer" is just a preview of what will come as long as we can get the funding and keep the motivation for what's required to make this happen!

In case you haven't seen my YouTube videos before, I'm the guy in the black t-shirt that says "Open ReVolt" on it under the jean jacket.

So, what do you think? Insane? Too ambitious? Not enough time, not enough budget for the goal?

See what you can do to help. Chime in here, or visit the official project web page at:
http://gmemovie.com/
 

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can I get your autograph before you become famous and charge for them:D

how about a minvan with a ecomoded boat tail, lots of room for batteries.

so are the fronting the money to do it?

make sure they let you bring it to the MREA fair next year.

gary
 

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How much time do you have to complete the conversion?
Yes, it will have to use lithium cells to get any decent time between charges.
You will need to purchase tried and true components to minimize risk. Known good motor and controller, charger, etc.
Something aerodynamic with room for a 40 or 50 kWh pack would be nice.


Would be nice if you could get these guys to help you build it:

http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/207-5mpge-57372.html
 
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Nice trailer but the ones who want to do the drive across the country need to front the money for the build. Nothing is for free you know. You have a short time and lots to plan.

American? Mmmmm. You will need a vehicle with room for a large pack. Cool old American Van? Plenty of room for batteries and a nice 11" GE motor. Zilla/Soliton1 Controllers comes to mind. Elcon 4000 charger comes to mind for reliable. TS come to mind for cells. No need to bother with the BMS crap.

Pretty much you need to plan the trip and charging issues. The build should and could be pretty much straight forward. No need for a speed demon but something for endurance and grunt power. I think it would work. Remember it should not be you who fronts the money. You should be getting paid for the work and all the other sponsors who want to do this should front the funds. You have enough to do let along dig for funds for this ambitious project.

Yes, it would be excellent PR but it sounds more like a PR stunt for an upcoming business of someone wanting to build electric cars.


 

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Well a saturn is technically an american car - how bout it? [ducks for cover]:p

Funding would be the real concern with something like this. From what I've seen first hand and of others, you should come up with the most pessimistic budget you can think of with all the numbers rounded up, then add another 50% to account for unforeseen problems or rework that WILL occur no matter how well the project is planned.

I've seen some of your other videos, and you do have the personality for the camera - Right up there with Gavin(KiwiEV). Ideally you would still have many of your friends pitch in even if you are officially the 'builder' and otherwise the face of the project.

For charging across long distances, you could try arranging with a well known chain store and plan it out that way. Someone up here in canada has videos where a few Home Hardware stores (think of them like a smaller version of Home Depot) let them charge the jeep on a longer trip. They got store managers and a few friendly employees on camera too so it was all in good fun. Search Utube for "EV2 electric jeep" find him.
 

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Well here goes........ I'll build you a motor controller.

Two things I would consider very important.

1) The build must be repeatable. ie DON'T use unobtanium such as uqm drivetrain and kokam batteries. I automatically tune out those sort of projects. Any idiot can solve a problem with money and a telephone.

2) America has produced some of the most icionic cars over the past 50 years. For a good choice look to your past.

Anyway what would I know? I'm just a dumb **** who grew up on watching car chases on the A-Team :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey Jack,

One thing I would really like to do is make the whole thing as Open Source as possible.

Show how to re-use and modify easy-to-get parts. Build what we can. Visit junk-yards!

A big part of this is to show what's possible. Other than the cost of a lithium battery pack, I would like this to be as affordable, yet high-performance.

I finally met Paul Holmes last week in person. We were talking about an Open Source Controller/Charger/BMS setup.

Hopefully, when we are done, ANYONE can build one of these cars.
 

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This sounds like it would be a great adventure! Ben I think you would have a good screen presence for it.

The nature of the journey I think greatly shapes the build.

Do you want to hit the freeways and get across the nation as fast as possible? Then you'd want something aerodynamic like a 3rd generation Pontiac Firebird.

Do you want to present a self-contained lifestyle? Maybe then a Chrysler Minivan that has been made into a mini motorhome (camp in the vehicle).

Do you want to give lots of rides? Do the minivan but keep the seats.

Do you want to go fast at race tracks along the way? (BTW I think this would a fantastic story, build a super fast car, hit 50 drag race tracks in 50 states, and record the gasser's reactions to getting beat.) OK, this one is probably not realistic but it is fun to dream.

Will there be a support truck for the journey? Could the support truck or the car itself have a generator on board (maybe natural gas or biodiesel)? Could you do tow regen?

The book "Solo" by Noel Perrin describes his journey with an electric car. Mountains killed his range and he decided to tow it home, but it was still a great read.
 

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Since the pack will be the most expensive part of a long range vehicle you obviously want to maximize your efficiency to minimize the pack size, which would seem to rule out vans and such. I'll second a Camaro/Firebird/Trans-am build, I saw a gen 4 Trans-am the other day with a very aerodynamic looking front end, there was no grill opening! Must take air from underneath. You'd have to figure out how large a pack you need, i.e. how much distance between charges, and if you can fit it in the car. You could probably find a Camaro for less money and do body mods to make it as aerodynamic as the Trans-am.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The last two comments were all pretty spot on.

To start with, I don't really think anyone wants to see a minivan.

A sports car / muscle car, something like that. Something good enough to be slightly eye-catching.

We're thinking sort of a Route 66 trip - cross the country the old way, not on interstates. That way, the speed is kept down, and the whole trip will be a lot more interesting.

Meet people along the way. Visit local EV clubs. Charge up where ever people will let us.

There will be a support vehicle. The film-makers can't all fit in one car, and I think there will be several cameras, laptops, and other video gear with. The thought right now is that it will be a rented RV. That also gives a few beds to sleep in, instead of paying for motels every night. A kitchen in an RV could help keep the food budget down as well.

I was also thinking that CAMP GROUNDS are some of the few places that you can reliably charge an electric car, without getting hassled about it! You just rent an electric site. You pay for the electricity, then you plug the car in!

I read SOLO some time back. It was a good book. The final route will be planned to be as energy efficient as we can make it.
 

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That will of course increase the cost of the build, depending on how much rubber you want to burn, and how often.
Another vehicle possibility is a Pontiac Fiero which you can probably find cheap. If you don't care about storage space there is a lot of room for cells, and the car is small, decent cd, easily improved with modified body panels, which are fiberglass, and not too heavy. I fit a 12kwh pack of 100ah CALBs, 36 cells, all in my engine compartment, with room for more, which gives me a 50 mile range in mixed driving. There is still room in the gas tank tunnel, the trunk, and the front end. You could certainly do a 100 mile range Fiero, maybe more. Mid engine and all that battery weight might make burnouts more difficult of course, I don't know if there is enough clearance near the passenger side half shaft to fit an 11 inch.
 

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I think it would be more interesting to forget trying to build and tour a single vehicle, and just locate and tour the (thousand?) operational DIY EVs that already exist. Do short clips on existing ones, pick the 'best' interviews and put together a Documentary on what already exists under the radar!
 
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I think it would be more interesting to forget trying to build and tour a single vehicle, and just locate and tour the (thousand?) operational DIY EVs that already exist. Do short clips on existing ones, pick the 'best' interviews and put together a Documentary on what already exists under the radar!
I agree, was totally focused on building, but when there are already thousands already built there must be ONE that can perform reliably enough to do the task. Find that one and go for it. Saves a bunch of time too. Find one that has build photos and or video's to be included. Or take it apart just enough to do a pretend build and be done with it.

Or as Dan says. Do an interview on all of them. Would make a great show.

Pete :)
 

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I think it would be more interesting to forget trying to build and tour a single vehicle, and just locate and tour the (thousand?) operational DIY EVs that already exist. Do short clips on existing ones, pick the 'best' interviews and put together a Documentary on what already exists under the radar!
Good direction. I think what would be even cooler is to do a call for the owners of great-looking, good-performance EVs that are willing to join the coast-to-coast EV rally. Do a tight looks/performance/quality control and you can have way more impact on your audience than with a single car. Then, on the way, I would organize a bunch of EV mini-festivals where I would call in all the EV onwers of similar type EVs (but who cannot devote a couple of months for touring the country) and open the events to public.

Again, this IMHO would be WAY more impactful and REALLY show that EV conversions are real, fun and gaining scale.

What do you think?

Val
 
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.......do a call for the owners of great-looking, good-performance EVs....
This would be quite subjective you know. I think mine is great looking and it has good performance but not great distance endurance. It is the distance endurance that will help. I have some ideas that might be useful but not yet ready so are moot at this time. But I agree that it should really be something done with already built vehicles. It might not even need to be one where you drive across the country. A great documentary could be done. No expense except to interview and video. No build costs. :) Plenty of folks could provide build video footage and driving footage.

Thanks Dan for the great idea. Time to push this idea this direction. I think its a great idea to do a video.
 

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This would be quite subjective you know. I think mine is great looking and it has good performance but not great distance endurance. It is the distance endurance that will help. I have some ideas that might be useful but not yet ready so are moot at this time. But I agree that it should really be something done with already built vehicles. It might not even need to be one where you drive across the country. A great documentary could be done. No expense except to interview and video. No build costs. :) Plenty of folks could provide build video footage and driving footage.

Thanks Dan for the great idea. Time to push this idea this direction. I think its a great idea to do a video.
I know ;-) That's why I think we farm it out to the film director and he makes a call on self-nominations he receives.

I think cross-country tour or similar exhibition of the 'normalcy' of the EV conversions is a must. In the eyes of most people outside of this (and similar) forums, EV conversions are clunky golf carts, breaking down every other day. It took me a few burnout videos and a bunch of rides to persuade most of my friends otherwise...

I agree that the documentary on other builds can be layered on, but then again, I would strongly advise for:
1. Showing EVs in action (ride-alongs in different conditions, etc)
2. Avoiding anything that cannot maintain typical gasoline car performance at freeway speeds.
3. Avoiding exotic conversions (i.e. kit cars, completely rebuilt chassis, even the ones with torn-out back seats to fill batteries). The featured conversions MUST be as close as possible to a normal car - otherwise your mainstream audience will tune out as they won't see this as relevant.

Just some ideas from a guy who spent last 7 years consulting fortune 50 co's on marketing... ;-)

V
 

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good luck

We can help; it is going to be hard depending on how far they want the vehicle to travel each day. Ben, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to build this project but it is really nice to have friends when you get in over your head. My advice, keep it simple cross country is the wrong place to need a part that comes from Europe. Now I am going to contradict myself, high voltage AC system or BLDC will give you the most bang for your buck because of the low losses involved with the lower current. Cannot get much more American than an old Mustang or Corvette. Buy two of everything just in case something blows up.
wow if this isn’t an ADD post I don’t know what is, but I think it will make since here for some reason.
 
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