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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all

I am new to converting cars to electric so I have decided to do my first conversion on a simple, cheap VW Beetle.

By using a Beetle I plan on making the conversion a simple as possible as the Beetle doesn't have power breaks, power steering or any complicated wiring.

I aim to make this conversion as cheap as possible as it is my first one. My requirements are as follows: The car must have a maximum speed of about 100 km/h (60 mph) and have a range of about 50 km (30 miles)

I am not 100% sure on the voltage I need or the battery capacity. I am also unsure on the motor size and controller size.

I have heard of people using forklifts for cheap conversions. How viable is this option? What performance could one expect from using an average forklift motor?

I will appreciate any input and help i can get. If there are any questions or I need to be more specific let me know!
Thanks
 

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Welcome fellow bugger!

Are you looking to start cheap, or cheap long-term? I started with lead-acid and am working my way to lithium, which is much simpler and cheaper long-term.

Many have used forklift motors, there's a huge thread on it. Just search around. The most important part of cheap & simple is to know what you're getting into and how to go about it so you're not rebuilding or rebuying stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks!

I'm looking to start cheap, with led-acid. Yeah I've found a thread with about 200 pages so I've been browsing through that!

One of the main reasons I am looking at forklift motors is because there are no (or none that I've found) suppliers of DC motors suitable for electric cars in my area and it will be very expensive to ship one in.

Will it be possible to reach about 100 km/h with a forklift motor? How many volts can you feed them? Most of the ones I've seen are rated at 48v so will it be possible to use 72 or maybe 96 volts? Or what voltage would be able to take me to 100 km/h? (I understand that it is dependent on the motor as they are all different) From what i understand so far is that voltage gets you top speed and current gets you acceleration?

The other issue for me is getting a controller. Will it be possible to use a golf cart controller? (It will be easy to find one locally) If I find a 72v +- 600 Amp golf cart controller would it be able to work with a series DC motor from a forklift? Or would I need more power?

Thanks in advance! :)
 

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Thanks!

I'm looking to start cheap, with led-acid. Yeah I've found a thread with about 200 pages so I've been browsing through that!

One of the main reasons I am looking at forklift motors is because there are no (or none that I've found) suppliers of DC motors suitable for electric cars in my area and it will be very expensive to ship one in.

Will it be possible to reach about 100 km/h with a forklift motor? How many volts can you feed them? Most of the ones I've seen are rated at 48v so will it be possible to use 72 or maybe 96 volts? Or what voltage would be able to take me to 100 km/h? (I understand that it is dependent on the motor as they are all different) From what i understand so far is that voltage gets you top speed and current gets you acceleration?

The other issue for me is getting a controller. Will it be possible to use a golf cart controller? (It will be easy to find one locally) If I find a 72v +- 600 Amp golf cart controller would it be able to work with a series DC motor from a forklift? Or would I need more power?

Thanks in advance! :)

I am using an 11" GE forklift motor. It is marked 48 volt but I run it with 40 cells. That is 128 volts @3.2 per cell. My controller is the OpenRevolt. It is cheap but has worked for 4 1/2 years so far.


I can go 60 mph. The drive end of a forklift motor can be a lot trouble. Mine has a spline shaft. I also got the part from the forklift that the spline end attached. That is what I used to make the coupler.

My conversion parts (without batteries) cost $1500.

Alvin
 

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Will it be possible to reach about 100 km/h with a forklift motor?
Yep! I've drive over 120 km/h with a "modified" forklift motor. Now, I've drive over 160 km/h with a Warp Impulse 9 motor who is essentially a "modified" forklift motor.
The problem in your case, is your cheap lead acid battery will probably don't supply enough power to achieve that speed.
"Modified" imply brush advance for higher voltage. Probably not necessary at 72v.
Will it be possible to use a golf cart controller?... If I find a 72v +- 600 Amp...
Yep! If your are ok with low performance and 80 to 100 km/h top speed (highly depend of battery).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Awesome!

So it sounds like a forklift motor will be suitable for my needs! Now i just need to find one!

It seems like the controller will be my biggest challenge. I am very interested in the Open ReVolt controller - it's a great concept! I am just a bit worried whether I have the electrical skill required. How difficult is it to build? It appears to be a lot cheaper than a store bought one and cheap is my main goal! If I use the Open ReVolt controller ill be able to use more voltage than if I used a big golf cart controller, maybe somewhere around 120 volts? I'm sure that would increase my top speed.

I forgot to mention that I live in SA so if anyone else has built, or is thinking of building, an electric car in SA please let me know where you are getting parts from! :)

Thanks!!
 

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I'm looking to start cheap, with led-acid.
Range and lead don't really go well together, so it will be tough to keep it cheap. You'll need about 1000 lbs of lead so you'll have to upgrade your brakes and shocks, which may get a lil expensive depending on availability in your area.

With the open revolt, it's also possible to get someone to build it for you. There was at least 1 guy here who would do em for like $50 or $100 over the kit price.
 

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J first get in touch with some Automotive Engineers in your area, these are the guys who will check your conversion and then certify it for use on public roads.
First ask them about the finished vehicle weight and front/rear bias.
If they are as strict as ours are here in Sydney, you wont be able to use lead acid as the car will either be too heavy or if it is within weight limits you wont have the range to get down your driveway.
So you will have to budget for lithium.
Dan
 

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Budget VW:

I can relate. My first build was a 64 Ghia. I started with a 72 volt 550 amp golf cart controller and 72 volts of 6volt golf cart batteries. 72 volts is just not enough if you plan on any thing other than back streets of town. The jump from 72 volts to 96 yielded a huge increase in power and was able to do the freeway with no problem. It added weight because of the need for more lead. Ouch. I ended up with a total of about 1020lbs of lead in the car. It pushed the safe weight limit past acceptable but I still drove it for awhile. I also had to upgrade my controller and charger and dc dc controller. My controller needs no more upgrade unless I go beyond 192 volts maximum. My first build including the motor/adaptor, car, controller, charger, new batteries and all the little things ran me a total of $3200 and you'd be hard pressed to repeat. I spent way more than I should have by starting with a 72 volts and budget components. I had to do it all over again when I realized I was not getting the power I so wanted. One other thing is I also did not get the range that I was told I could do using lead acid. I realized after doing the build that my range just totally sucked and never even came close to the 40 to 60 miles everyone one swore that I could do. Well, they forgot to mention that I could in fact do 40 or maybe even 60 miles but I'd have to drive at 25 mph or less with out any stopping to achieve that goal. Best I ever saw with lead was 25 miles and after about 15 miles the power was just total garbage until the batteries were drained. That was with a full drain and not the 50% you should actually do to keep the batteries healthy.

Lead is just not the way to go. Budget yourself lithium and then get a controller that can run at more than a limited voltage. Mine will run from 24 volts to 192 and pump out up to 950 amps peak if needed. I can also run a high voltage pack and limit the volts to the motor via the controller interface so the motor never sees too much voltage that could damage it. My motor is a modified 9"GE and will do quite well in any VW with out even having to cut the body up. They are strong and reliable. Warp9 Impulse motors are good too for the VW. The AC-50 is also good but not a budget build.

You can shop for gently used lithium cells from abandoned projects for reasonable prices. Don't go with lead acid. It looks good in front of you but spending again for batteries is not what you want to do. Do this build right and only do it once.

If you only need 10 miles then maybe lead but be ready to still buy replacements soon. Sooner is the norm.

Pete :)

This is with my current controller and an 11" Kostov motor. I still have the components but not the car. This is my 3rd conversion. Running lithium cells in the second and third and fourth conversion.

 

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You want something as cool as an diy electric car but you only want to pay $2.50 for it ???
Come on get philosophical.
Think of the fun you will have driving past every gas station and looking at the suckahs pumping gas and what a pose it will be showing your mates your stinky big DC motor.
Put the effort in now and enjoy for years to come.
 

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Awesome!

So it sounds like a forklift motor will be suitable for my needs! Now i just need to find one!

It seems like the controller will be my biggest challenge. I am very interested in the Open ReVolt controller - it's a great concept! I am just a bit worried whether I have the electrical skill required. How difficult is it to build? It appears to be a lot cheaper than a store bought one and cheap is my main goal! If I use the Open ReVolt controller ill be able to use more voltage than if I used a big golf cart controller, maybe somewhere around 120 volts? I'm sure that would increase my top speed.

I forgot to mention that I live in SA so if anyone else has built, or is thinking of building, an electric car in SA please let me know where you are getting parts from! :)

Thanks!!
Hi jraub14

I am also in SA and have been researching converting beetle to electric for some time now. I have got the beetle and now need to move on to the electric conversion.....:)

As members have said, lithium is the way to go. I have asked local supplier to quote me on 160 AH cells.

My biggest concern (maybe forum members can offer advice) at the moment is the motor adapter - either one for the fork lift motor that forum members have suggested or one for something like the Warp motor which seems to be best DC motor. Sadly we are far away from parts suppliers in US of A :(.

Going the Warp motor route, my nightmare is that I source a Warp 9 and adapter from the states only to find that it does not fit :eek:

Where are you based ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the input!

I have found some examples of what I want to build:
http://www.evalbum.com/4699
http://www.evalbum.com/4503
http://www.evalbum.com/3970
These all have a similar range and top speed to what I'm looking for and they use lead. I realise that I might have to upgrade suspension and shocks but there are lots of parts available for Beetles around here.
I have a preconceived idea that lithium will be too expensive for my super budget goal but I'll look into them because I'm sure it will be better in the long run. Just remember that this will be my first conversion so I'm looking for simple as well as cheap!

Yes it is very sad that we are so far away from USA! I am also concerned about the adapter so if anyone has advice on how they have done it - that would be great! I'm based in the Western Cape and yourself?

I was also wondering with regards to the forklift motor, do I have to find a big forklift to strip for the motor? Or will an average sized electric forklift, with increased volts and amps, do?

If I weigh up the cost vs reliability of the Open revolt controller vs a production controller (eg. Curtis) which would be the better option? It would be more expensive to buy, especially to ship to SA, a production controller but I know it will be reliable and work properly. If I use the Open Revolt controller it will be cheaper but I will probably have to find someone to build it and it might not end up working properly. I hope this makes sense but I'm a bit stuck with that regard.

Thanks :)
 

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If you go with the Kit controller you will need to read the directions at least 5 times to be sure you fully understand and that you have all your parts and you must have a proper solder iron. Then when you have all your homework done on building the thing you will want to read it again a few more times. Don't spill your coffee on your directions. Take your time, and ask questions if you don't understand. You must understand your directions before diving in head first.
 

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http://www.evalbum.com/4699
http://www.evalbum.com/4503
http://www.evalbum.com/3970
These all have a similar range and top speed to what I'm looking for and they use lead.
Anything on evalbum should be taken with a grain of salt...a grain about the size of your bug.

Many quoted ranges are optimistically calculated, and the car has really only gone half that far, or as the case is with lead, could go that far once or twice (to 100% DOD) but would be seriously damaging the batteries.

With lead you want to limit your daily drive to ~50% DOD to prolong the life of the batteries, and don't go over ~80% for those rare occasions when you need to go a little further than usual.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks!

I have received a quote for lead acid batteries however i can't find anything local on lithium batteries. How much more expensive are they generally? If anyone knows of a supplier in SA for lithium batteries please let me know.
 
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