I'm not considering having them do a conversion, but I'd like to have opinions on their system, especially the motor and battery pack options. I saw somewhere that they're using a 3 ph brushless motor, but I can't find that page right now. I'm particularly interested in regenerative braking since we live in the mountains.
The conversions offer battery voltages 72 and 96 volts. This seems strange, because most AC systems for vehicles are in the 244-500 volt range. 96 volts is considered a minimum voltage for a DC system, and 72 isn't even worth considering for a highway-capable car. Something here doesn't pass the sniff test.
My guess is that they are using off-the-shelf industrial motor and inverter sets, not purpose-built EV components. Maybe an OK way to piddle with EV construction, but nothing that is built to last.
35-45 miles at 25 MPH puts this conversion in the NEV or Neighborhood Electric Vehicle class. My guess is that at reasonable speeds, the range drops to 15-25 miles, which is less than marginal. Claiming that the car consumes 200 watt-hours per mile backs up the low-speed design. The best I ever got on my EV Rabbit was 350 wh/m at "normal" driving speeds (some highway, 35-45 mph urban roads, stop-and-go city traffic). Average from-the-wall-socket efficiencies including charging inefficiencies, etc was a rock-solid 500 watt-hours per mile over a span of 8 years. 200 wh/m is considered slipstream-racer efficiency.
This type of conversion is probably best described as a granny-goes-to-the-corner-store type of conversion. It might be a way to run a cute little "love bug" from electric, but I think if you took it out and tried to stay alive in real-world Hummer-and-SUV traffic, you'd spend a lot of money on Valium to keep from losing your mind from the stress.
There's no reason that a "real" EV couldn't meet and exceed the requirements needed to be an efficient and capable commuter vehicle. I put 15,000 miles on my Rabbit in an urban environment, driving it between cities at 55 MPH on the freeway, etc. It was a little bit on the slow side as far as acceleration went, but it had a solid 40 mile range at real-world performance expectation.
I don't mean to tear the NewLeaf EV guys to pieces, but I think they are soft-pedaling the requirements necessary for a car that can keep up with traffic, perhaps to keep costs down, or maybe to offer EV wannabes an entry-level vehicle to get their feet wet. They perhaps could be a little more direct in describing this on the site. Read between the lines.
There are quite a few EV discussion lists and forums out there which have no vested interest in one type of conversion or another. I suggest that you hang out at one or more of them and get a feel for what others are doing, it will help make sense of sites and vehicles like the one you reference, and help weed out the rather large number of get-rich-quick and/or we-have-this-great-idea-nobody-ever-thought-of-before business startups which see the growing interest in EV's as an opportunity to be part of a new "dot-com" wave based on EV's.
I have too many projects going to even think about building an electric this year, but when I do, I may convert a Vanagon. I do restoration and engine conversion work on Vanagons, and an electric one would fit in. They're not the lightest body available, but the Vanagon is a real truck and could easily handle battery weight and still ride and drive well.
I need an honest forty mile range, and I need to be able to hit 55 mph. I also want regenerative braking. I'd love to hear suggestions on motors, controllers, chargers, batteries, etc.
1991 Bluebird International
360 DT - 6 Speed
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