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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My father has a Malibu with an engine issue, where one cylinder will not compress properly and sometime soon the engine will fail. All other components are in working order.
I have experience in welding, at the time of writing I am captain of my high-school robotics team, and I am interested in engineering. I perform basic maintenance on the family vehicles, ranging from the 60's, 90's and 00's.
I intend to replace the gasoline engine with an electric one, and hope to get at least 32 km per charge, and travel up to 100 km/h, but 80 km/h would be fine.
As a student, I can only afford the basics at this time, but my basic idea is to save on maintenance and fuel costs while gaining engineering experience.
Considering the specifications of the vehicle, I may trade it before performing the conversion.
- Automatic Transmission (probably need manual)
- Power locks, brakes, and steering (but windows are manual)
- 3051 lbs Curb Weight (probably need something lighter)
I have considered the use of several batteries to be installed in the trunk, a micro-controller under the hood, alongside either a DC motor (forklift) or a 3-phase AC motor (which I hear is the new way to go).
Any suggestions, corrections or examples are always welcome.
 

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The weight is kind of high, but doable. Those range and speed expectations are well in reach with lead batteries (assuming you don't want to drop 5k+ on lithium batteries).

The automatic does add another layer of difficulty, but there are folks here who have automatics. I think maybe two. The main difficulty is keeping the system pressurized while the car is not moving (electric motors don't idle, so the pump stops and looses pressure). Some use a separate motor that always runs to pressurize it; others have made the electric motor idle by putting a resistor in the circuit.

Unless you scavenge an AC motor and controller/inverter, forget about it. Consumer available packages put you in the range of ~$10k. There are some that come out of forklifts that could be viable.

The power locks, etc. don't pose a big problem. They barely pull any electricity (think about it; you can operate them off the 12v starter battery) and you won't have to do anything but connect the wiring to those to a 12v source.

If it has electrical assist power steering, this is awesome. If it has hydraulic power steering, this is still very doable, but less fun. Check the wiki at http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php?t=668, it has a section that covers that.

If you're doing this on the kind of money I had in highschool, spend a bunch of time at the junkyard. Pick up any deals you can get on wiring, motors, inverters, etc. When you're not sure of something, take pictures and post them up, someone can usually identify whether it'll be a good deal and if it will work for your conversion or not. Welcome to the board. :)
 

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You could probably swap a manual transmission in your car from a salvage Malibu with a manual transmission. The automatic is really problematicv for conversion, although there are examples that retain the automatic transmission.

Your design goals are well within reach of a low cost 72V system. Find a used Alltrax AXE7245 for $300 or less, and be patient with locating a suitable motor; you'll want at least a Prestolite MTC4001, GE 9", Kostov 9", or ADC 8", in the case you later intend to upgrade for more performance/range years from now; such a motor will usually exceed $800 in cost, but sometimes you'll find bargains around $500.

Quickcharge chargers sometimes show up for cheap as well, often for $250 or less used.

If you want 60 mph, you'll probably need at least a 96V system for this car. The cheapest controller to accomodate this is to build your own using the ReVolt open source board; a 144V/500A setup can be built for ~$500, and can accommodate 72V-144V. It is suitable for higher voltage and more current if you design your own power board, depending upon what that powerboard entails.

Costco has some very cheap 220AH 6V flooded lead acid batteries as well(probably ~80AH at the 30 minute rate), ~$80 each, so 12 in series should easily give you 30+ miles range at 45 mph, and a top speed of 50 mph with a 72V controller.

If you fabricate your own adaptor plate and coupler, you'll save about $1,000 in labor; you'll need machine shop access, which you'll have in a college environment.

You could do this 72V conversion for less than $2000, assuming you have the tools available and are patient on obtaining parts. Buy all the parts new and have someone do the fabrication of battery boxes, adaptor, motor mounts, and other parts, and you'll spend in excess of $5,000 for a basic 72V conversion.
 

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You could probably swap a manual transmission in your car from a salvage Malibu with a manual transmission.
I seriously doubt this car was available with a manual transmission at all, and even if it was, production would be so low as to make finding a donor in a junkyard extremely difficult.

Unfortunately, this build is starting from the "available glider" premise, which in the vast majority of cases isn't the right place to start. Just because there's an inoperative car in your garage or backyard or uncle's barn doesn't make it a good place to invest many hundreds of hours of your time and at least a few thousands of dollars of money.

Despite your automotive skills, as a first time builder you really should follow a trodden path, if not a well-paved one. Look at the EV Album. No Malibus there. Not ONE. There is wisdom in numbers. S-10 pickups, VWs, Geos, these conversions aren't just numerous because they are good, logical choices for converting. There's a synergy to the sheer number of them that makes doing one that much easier because there are 20 more just like yours to look at, learn and copy from, and at least a handful of those guys to contact and talk it over with if you're stuck or confused. Compared to that, selecting a glider nobody has done before for a first conversion isn't just diving into the deep end of the pool, its pretty much doing so without even knowing if there's water in it. Don't put your project at that must risk.

Good gliders are not that hard to find. You could even send up a request here, on the EV Tradin Post, Craig's List, many other places pleading your case for someone to help you got an appropriate glider cheaply.

Of course, everyone should do as they please and build the car they want, but if the old dead Malibu you're looking at now isn't a car you really want to pour all those resources into and be seen driving every day, then find a better place to start a conversion.

Just my $.02...

TomA
 

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I seriously doubt this car was available with a manual transmission at all, and even if it was, production would be so low as to make finding a donor in a junkyard extremely difficult.
After some searching, it turns out that you are correct. The older models did have manual transmissions though; I wasn't aware that they removed manuals for this model from production.

If he's really intent on using this Malibu, it would be worth investigating whether a manual transmission from a Corsica/Beretta could be made to fit with minimal money.
 

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If he's really intent on using this Malibu, it would be worth investigating whether a manual transmission from a Corsica/Beretta could be made to fit with minimal money.
Actually, it isn't worth investigating. It could only be done with "minimal money" by someone with lots of drivetrain modification experience, skills and tools. Of course, no person like that would probably bother converting this $300 about-to-be-non-op car into an EV.

You can be sure that if GM didn't offer a manual transmission on the Malibu body shell, then they also did not spend the money to engineer the pedals, shifter, and linkage mounts and locations into the firewall and floor pans, nor did they bother to do an engine or torque axis mount for the gearbox. Corsica/Barretta parts are going to be scarce, too, and I doubt they will bolt right in. You'd be so on your own with this manual transmision conversion project that making the automatic transmission coupler for the electric motor and getting it to work that way might actually be easier.

This project is a non-starter for a first conversion, in my opinion. To advise otherwise seems to me to be just a fantasy exercise of how to complete some really-hard-to-do things, accomplishing little more than drawing a newbie out into an impractical project.

If you wouldn't do it with your own time and money, its probably fairest not to tell somebody else to do it with theirs. I wouldn't spend any time or money on this conversion unless:

1. I loved the car, and
2. The body, interior and undercarriage were perfect, and
3. I had a manual transmission that would bolt in already sitting in the garage, and
4. I really wanted a serious challenge far beyond the usual tasking that every EV requires in order to make this one work.

My advice is is therefore: Don't do it; part the car and look for an easier glider to convert.

Over & out,

TomA
 
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