4 Apr 2013

What We've Learned

We have learned a lot since we posted the last video. We decided (were told by those in the know) that our range goals were unrealistic without a whole load of big heavy batteries, or lithium batteries which are WAY outside our budget of $1000 for the build. We have revised our range goal to 25km, enough to get me to work and back and run and errand or two.

We are building our battery pack around our range goal, and the pack voltage we end up running will determine our speed - though we are anticipating around 60-70kmph which will meet the speed limits on the roads roads around where I live. Highways will of course be out of the question, but we are building a viable inner city runabout, not trying to compete with petrol cars for range or top speed. The car will be plugged in at home each night for a recharge.

The range will be determined by the voltage of the pack and the amp hour rating -  and lots of other variables. At the moment we have a few options for batteries that could see us come in under budget. More about these when we have the batteries here.

Ideally we will be running a battery pack of somewhere between 72V and 125V. Because we have such a small engine bay we'll be putting the cells in the area where we removed the back seat. The motor controller, accessory battery and other components will fit above the motor and gear box in the engine bay.

I recently purchased an inertia switch which will help shut everything off if we have an accident.

Some invaluable resources for anyone thinking of converting a car (I would recommend reading as much as you can before you start, unlike us!):

The Australian Electric Vehicle Association Forums.

Most of the guys on here have experience converting their own cars and are very willing to help. They will only get a slightly annoyed at you for not knowing anything about your project before you dive in head first (like us). However their sense of good will and love of EV's will get them past this.

AEVA Forums

Here is a link to our 'build thread' for more technical information and developments:

Build Thread


A great source of inspiration for build ideas, and again lots of help with your project. Also, some really cool ideas as well for getting more efficiency from your petrol powered car.


And our build thread here:

EcoModder Build Thread

A quick read of these build threads will give you an idea of where we started (ambitious, ignorant) and what processes we took to get to where we are now (ambitious, slightly less ignorant).

There are loads of great resources on the web, but these are the two that I have spent most of my time on.

Also, I met with Tim Olding from a company called EV Engineering, check out their conversion of a brand new Commodore!

Tim took me for a drive in one of the Commodores - definitely the quietest ride I've had but very smooth and like they say in the video, you can't tell that the extra weight is there. It was great to finally ride in an electric car and I can see why people get the 'EV grin'.  This is obviously a very different project to ours, but very cool stuff.
Tim was incredibly helpful, I think somewhat bemused by our budget, and talked me through a load of electrical wiring diagrams and terms which I hadn't considered before the meeting. He also introduced me to the conversion guidelines which we are now following to ensure our project can be easily certified and registered.

Tim had a particular focus on safety when working with high voltages, which was something I hadn't really thought about but is a really good point. EV's are of no particular use to deceased owners.

To keep things moving, here is a video of the team removing the car's original engine and components to make way for electric drive. This was shot several months ago but I just got around to editing it (that's why they give us deadlines at uni, we don't do anything otherwise).

I am meeting with a fellow Melbourne 'EV enthusiast' (I'm sure there's a better term for this) next week, who has completed a really interesting conversion of an old Vogue. Again, a very different conversion to ours, but we will get some footage for the blog.

Our project is to build a dirt-cheap electric vehicle but also about raising awareness of electric car conversions as viable urban transport.

Until next week!

7 Sep 2012

What We're Gonna Do

Here's a brief introduction to our project - Oli and I keep looking to the left because that's the way we're politically inclined. Also, the car is to the left of us and we looked at it to work out what to say.

We are converting an old Daihatsu Handivan to electric in an attempt to prove that electric vehicles (EV's) are an affordable, viable solution to urban commuting.

Like we mention in the video, none of us have even worked on a car before.

Our budget is $1000 for the build. We have spent $400 so far on the car and motor, but plan to make some of this back by selling off the engine, fuel tank and exhaust for scrap metal.

Our next task is to recondition the electric motor and mount it to the existing drivetrain of the car. Then we need to find batteries. Then we need to get an engineers certificate to say the car is safe to drive. Then we need to fork out around $700 to have the car registered.

It won't be super quick or easy, but things have gone smoothly enough so far, and we're optimistic that it's going to work.

Stay tuned for our next video: Us tearing the internal combustion engine out of the car.

We are located in Melbourne Australia. If you would like to know more or can offer any help please get in touch.