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Re: [EVDL] Daily driver vs. hobby: EV reliability issues & OEM massproduction

I'm going to chime in here, since this is something that I've
been thinking about the last few years. I've been driving my own
EV for the last thirteen years.

Yes, I've come to much the same conclusion. My bunny has been
much more work than I had planned on. But I've decided that
pretty much any custom vehicle is not going to have that OEM
Honda/Toyota reliability. Conversion EVs are a special difficult
case. Production is very low count. I would say much lower than
most stuff for custom cars. Headers and hot variable cams plus
the latest electronic goodies for modifying that ECU in your gas
street rod are made by the thousands. Compare that to the
tens-ies and hundreds count that might occur for conversion EVs.
All that iterating for gas cars moves them up the learning curve
and amortizes the cost. And OEMs run that count up into the
millions. Big market. You can go to your local Kragens and most
likely get part XYZ, and if they don't have it on the shelf,
they've got a sheaf of catalogs about a foot wide where they can
look. The EV conversion parts market can just about be counted
on the fingers of one hand, and any one of those may go out of
business before you call the next time. I admire the staying
ability of our EV parts suppliers given the economics, and I keep
my fingers crossed that we continue to have good people to go to
in the future. EV conversions are far out on the fringe of the
custom car world.

Have we had the OEM experience in the EV world, vehicles that the
average EV driver could get their hands on? No, I would say not.
I don't think the GM EV1, the Toyota RAV4-EV, Honda EV-Plus, and
blah-blah-blah hundreds of vehicles that went down in the last
10-15 years really counts. All this pretty much amounted to a
publicity stunt by the OEMs and to fill CA CARB requirements -
the whole affair makes me retch. You had to be well-connected,
rich and in the right place at the right time to have one of
these vehicles as your daily driver. And by rich, I mean here in
CA if you live in an apt and can't make those mega-buck housing
prices to have a garage to stow your EV in, you're out - no way
could I have a dedicated power unit hanging on the wall
downstairs in my carport, and the OEMs wouldn't even look at my
apt scene.

Given all that, I feel I'm doing the best I can for whatever
reason(s) I am doing it. Sure, I'd like to have an OEM electric
like the GM EV1 NiMH. I might just about kill for one too, but
it ain't gonna happen. I drive my conversion, as I have for the
last 13 years, and make it the best experience I know how. I
expect it to cost me a lot of time and effort in the future. It
needs its space, and I need mine. But it works.

That's how it came out this time when I wrote this. Somedays are
a little different...


----- Original Message -----
From: "David Brandt" <[email protected]>
To: "Electric Vehicle Discussion List" <[email protected]>
Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 3:11 PM
Subject: Re: [EVDL] Daily driver vs. hobby: EV reliability issues
& OEM massproduction

> Boy, this really hits the nail of what I have been thinking
about the last few weeks on the head. I ask myself 'would I do a
fiero again?' And the answer is maybe, but the reality is that
now I have a pretty decent one that I've invested a lot in, and
It's gonna be around for a while now.
> I can add the following 'D'OH!' moments to the list...
> ...Not inspecting the donor vehicle closely, missing several
things that need to be done to fix it before conversion (ebay
buyers beware!).
> ...doing suspension work yourself. Changing those front
springs was the most dangerous thing I've ever done (not the
stupidest, but the most dangerous). One did let go one time -
lucky I wasn't in the way.
> ...cheaping out on anything and regretting it later, like not
putting that one wire in a separate loom, then having to rerun it
later when it chafes through and shorts out.
> ...getting funny readings on the meter and going through weeks
of correspondence with the manufacturer only to find out that it
makes a big difference which side of the shunt that one lead (the
one you were sure was correct) attaches to.
> ...removing the ECU and selling it on ebay, only to find that
you need it to run the speedometer.
> and lest we forget:
> ...thinking you are ever actually 'done' with the conversion.
> By the way, I did the s'hort hose with a plug in the end and
several holes drilled in the hose' trick on the vacuum pump last
night and the pump noise is much better! Too bad I had a tread
separation in a tire and it's down until the new tires from the
tire rack get here...
> David Brandt
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Bob Bath <[email protected]>
> To: Electric Vehicle Discussion List <[email protected]>
> Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 1:32:46 PM
> Subject: [EVDL] Daily driver vs. hobby: EV reliability issues &
OEM mass production
> After 4 years of a VoltsRabbit, and 3.5 years of
> CivicWithACord, I feel qualified to discuss my
> concerns and hopes for the future.
> The fact is, there are some things that will only come
> from experience. While you learn them, you'll likely
> have a 3rd vehicle as a humiliating backup for when
> things go wrong. Examples:
> - You powdercoated with polyester powdercoat, not
> epoxy powdercoat. Your car is down 5 days to have the
> powdercoating re-done.
> - You relied on monitoring voltage too carefully, not
> current. As a result, your batteries were chronically
> undercharged. You got 2 yrs., instead of 4 or more,
> and your car is down for 2 weeks while the batteries
> get ordered. You also go to a different e-meter
> powering system, so that you can monitor charging
> current and voltage w/o the car being down.
> - Your controller has condensation issues, has massive
> silicon failure, and your car is down 3 weeks while
> it gets rebuilt into a more reliable version.
> - Your DCDC takes too long to charge the aux. battery,
> so it dies prematurely, and your car needs to be towed
> home. It's a week before the higher current DCDC
> comes in and you can install it.
> - Your friend may be a nice dude, but he's a cruddy
> welder. Your rig is down for 4 days while the weld on
> a now-broken motor mount is re-done.
> - Your mis-wire your e-meter prescaler, toasting it.
> I'm noticing that in no instance above except for
> battery charging and the last one, was it directly my
> fault, unless one counts "lack of complete knowledge
> of each component" as being a "fault". Each one of
> the above would be solved if the OEMs made EVs. In my
> perfect world, I could go to NAPA Auto Parts, and pick
> up the blown controller, or higher power DCDC, or
> whatever _immediately_. But no, I've got to cobble
> together the best available parts from several
> vendors.
> Senkowski- controller
> Belktronix- DCDC converter and e-meter power supply.
> ElectroAuto or EVParts or EVAmerica- motor, vac. pump,
> etc.
> Local vendor- welding
> Interstate- batteries
> Port Plastics- polypropy
> - and the list goes on and on. Sure, it's all for the
> "good of the cause," but after 7 years, I'm not so
> sure I can ever go to just two rigs.
> '01 Corolla: wife's car
> 95 Odyssey: my long range rig & my backup (see list of
> whines, above)
> 92 Civic: daily EV driver, unless...
> Tomorrow can't come fast enough. <sigh> Here's to
> hoping we use up our gasoline supply soon... for all
> the right reasons.
> (;-p
> Converting a gen. 5 Honda Civic? For $20 DVD you can purchase
footage of my '92 sedan, as well as a del Sol and hatch too!
> Learn more at:
> __/__|__\ __
> =D-------/ - - \
> 'O'-----'O'-'
> Would you still drive your car if the tailpipe came out of the
steering wheel? Are you saving any gas for your kids?
> Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.
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