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    EV Conversion, Does it Make Sense?


    • Does it make sense to convert a traditional gas powered auto to an EV?

    G. David Felt
    Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com

     

    Tesla has set the auto world on fire with their sedan and now their Tesla X CUV. While most of us cannot afford a $100,000 dollar plus auto, what about our older auto's? Does it make sense to convert a traditional gas powered auto to an EV? Should I wait till a lower priced EV arrives like the Chevy Bolt?
    Many states have come out strong in their support for CNG home and business fueling equipment such as Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Texas. Other states have come out strong pushing to having people go electric and add electric chargers to your home such as Washington and Oregon. One large state pushing CNG, Electric and Hydrogen, is California. The average conversion on a petrol powered auto to CNG tends to run $10K to $15K depending on the size of the CNG tank and then you have fueling equipment if you want to fuel from home that runs from $5K to $10K depending on size. This means an average person converting an auto to CNG is looking at $15K to $25K price and can be even more if you buy a new CNG auto.
    You have many choices in the EV field such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500 EV and a few others that all run in the 60 to 80 mile range of electric auto's. The upcoming Chevy Bolt is a 200 mile range EV which many feel will make an impact on autos sales. These are the EV's that are all in the $25K to $35K range depending on federal subsidies.

     

    So with thinking about the current EV's on the market and what is coming, does it make sense to convert an existing auto to electric? What is the cost of conversion and what are my options as I hear about AC versus DC driven autos? What should I have at my home to charge the auto? This is what I took as I thought about my own auto's I own and realizing that a big 6'6" 280lb man who drives full size SUV's, GMC Suburban and Escalade, finds it hard to find a greener solution in the full size SUV arena. As such, I choose to research what it would cost to convert my 1994 GMC SLE Suburban which has a modified 402 V8 500HP, 551lbs of Torque engine that requires Premium fuel or CNG to drive.

     

    In researching this I found that there are many pros and cons of AC versus DC motors. AC or alternating current electric motors and DC or Direct current electric motors are both able to achieve the job of moving an auto but are engineered a bit differently. DC current will not work with an AC motor nor will a AC current work with a DC motor.
    AC motors are divided into single phase and three phase motors. Single phase AC is what you typically find in a home, triple phase is commonly found in factory or commercial space, but can also be installed at a home. Today OEM auto makers are mostly using AC motors.
    DC motors also find themselves split into three types, brush motors, brushless motors and stepper motors. Brushed DC motors as found on Golf carts and many other small electric driven carts are easy to build and cost effective but their large drawback is that the carbon brushes used to transfer electrical current wear over time and eventually end in motor failure. Stepper motors are a brushless DC motor most commonly found in robotics/ automation. Not something you would use in an auto. The DC brushless motor eliminates brushes, is more costly to build and requires a complicated electronics system to operate but has long life and is usually what you find in EV's either converted or OEM built for the auto industry.
    So now that we know what the difference is between AC and DC motors, what are the advantages and disadvantages of these motors?
    Advantages of DC (Direct Current) motors are as follows:
    1) Provide excellent speed control for acceleration and deceleration.
    2) Easy to understand and design.
    3) Inexpensive drive design.

     

    Disadvantages of DC motors are as follows:
    1) High maintenance
    2) Vulnerable to dust which decreases performance

     

    Advantages of AC (Alternating Current) motors are as follows:
    1) Low cost due to simple design of the motor.
    2) Generally smaller form factor.
    3) Reliable operation, due to low maintenance, very rugged.

     

    Disadvantages of AC motors are as follows:
    1) Low speed challenges
    2) Back EMF (electromotive force) issues. This is where current in the loop of the motor that slows down the motor and has to be overcome.
    With all the advantages and disadvantages there are some situations that still demand a DC motor or a high performance AC motor. For long life and performance cooling is a requirement. This requires a premium efficient or energy efficient motor with proper air or liquid cooling.
    So knowing what I have in my suburban and wanting to keep it as true as possible as an auto that has its heaters, AC and the rest of the electronics ended up leaving me with the following parts list.
    EV Conversion Part List and Cost as supplied by www.electriccarpartscompany.com.

     

    This is a parts list with cost not including shipping or installation.
    2 - Warp11 72-156v 453amp DC Motors will cost $5810.00
    1 - Dual Motor Siamese adapter for Warp11 motors will cost $599.00
    1-Air Conditioner Compressor will cost $864.00
    1-Electric Power Steering Pump kit will cost $985.00
    2-1000amp Zilla Motor controller will cost $3717.00
    1-PB2 Pot Box Throttle will cost $99.00
    1-Motor Adapter Plate and Spacer Ring will cost $450.00
    1-Interconnecting Hub will cost $365.00
    1-55amp DC-DC converter will cost $124.00
    1-500A Fuse will cost $65.00
    1-Fuse Holder will cost $65.00
    1-12v 500amp contactor will cost $72.00
    1-Inertia Switch will cost $57.00
    1-Amp/Voltage meter with 500amp shunt will cost $108.00
    1-QET 2000 watt 144v model P charger will cost $603.00
    1 - 250V, 10-30A Locking Plugs, sockets, inlets & Bezel - $105.00
    1-Orion BMS configured for 48 cells will cost $1131.00

     

    Part Cost $15,219 which gives me an EV motor solution of 1000lbs of torque with near identical HP.

     

    90 mile battery pack
    48 -180Ah Calb CA180FI cells with bus bars, bolts and washers will cost $11,448.00

     

    200 mile battery pack
    48 - 400Ah LiFePo4 Lithium Prismatic cells with bus bars, bolts and washers will cost $28,032.00

     

    90 Mile Solution
    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00
    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00
    90 mile battery pack $11,448.00
    Total Cost $46,667.00

     

    200 Mile Solution
    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00
    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00
    200 mile battery pack $28,032.00
    Total Cost $63,032.00

     

    With an overview of AC versus DC motors and having researched the installation, parts and battery pack, I have two options, a $47K 90 mile option or a $63K 200 mile option. Knowing that a new Suburban can run from $40K to $75K dollars, which makes sense? Buy a new petrol suburban or rebuild my existing Suburban to be EV?

     

    I think this really comes down to a personal choice as you have to decide if your old auto is worth more to refit as an EV or stay with petrol and drive a new one. Personally, I am leaning towards the EV conversion as my 94 GMC SLE Suburban is in mint condition, paid for and the cost of conversion would give me a 30Amp quick charging solution that long term would end up paying for itself I believe.

     

    In the end if you are interested in converting your auto to electric, you have a number of choices. The following web sites offer a complete catalog of parts for those that want to engineer the complete solution. They also offer Conversion kits that cover many popular cars and trucks. Which is right for you, can only be decided by your own choice of what you want to accomplish.

     

    http://www.electric-cars-are-for-girls.com/electric-car-conversion-kit.html

     

    http://www.evwest.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=40&osCsid=ve0hk6f1hpvnt5mk78pvuqosk2

     

    http://www.electriccarpartscompany.com/

     

    The final alternative is a new Hybrid Suburban offered by VIA Motors. Pure electric for 40 miles, then gas kicks in to balance and you end up with a 24mpg suburban but at a starting price of $79,000.

     

    Via motors web site is here:

     

    http://www.viamotors.com/

     

    TopSpeed review is here:

     

    http://www.topspeed.com/cars/others/2013-via-vtrux-suburban-ar133014.html

     

    News on Via here:

     

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    Since October, the battery industry is changing at a pace unseen by other technologies.

     

    In October, this was the best battery pack I could get:

     

    200 mile battery pack
    48 - 400Ah LiFePo4 Lithium Prismatic cells with bus bars, bolts and washers will cost $28,032.00

     

    Now less than 3 months later I can get the following:

     

    400 mile battery pack 48V, 800Ah LiFePo4 package for $20,576.00

     

    Pretty amazing, the range is an estimate on using a Warp 9 electric motor.

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    Does it make financial sense? Probably not... but what vehicle customization does?

     

    I still think it would be cool to have an Thoronado

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    I agree, I am looking at where I want to take my custom Suburban and am seriously considering changing it from the Bi-Fuel Petrol / CNG to Pure EV. I would have the room for 3 large battery packs under the body 1 on each side of the drive line between the front and rear tires and the third battery pack where the gas tank is currently. I figure this would give me about 1200 mile range, which means my road trips from Seattle to LA to visit relatives could be done on a single charge. :P

     

    Course the 8K savings on the current battery pack is pretty cool too. I just hope that by the time I decide what to do for my next project that the price drops even more.

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    Dang that's a lot of money.. You'd really have to like the feel of electric drive and be willing to keep it for a long time aaaaaand also be willing to do the maintenance yourself as I don't know any place that would work on a custom electric drivetrain. 

     

    Also, if in only 3 months you saved 8k and GAINED 200 miles per battery at what point will you draw the line and say "this is worth buying". If they are advancing that quickly it seems like a waste to even commit to the 400 mile range one for 20k assuming in a year there will be a 600 mile range for 15k(random numbers FYI). That actually sounds like the toughest part of the decision to me is when to actually pull the trigger. When is the technology to price good enough to purchase because, IMO, $55k for 400 miles of range isn't quite worth it. And mostly that is because you will have to do a lot of maintenance on your suburban to keep it up as well. Plus, assing all of this electric weight I'd assume you'd at least have to replace all four corners of suspension and brakes. 

     

    It's just tough to justify at that cost still, to me. 1200 miles of range.. freakin AWESOME! It's at a hefty cost though.. At that price-ish I would just rather buy an E-Class diesel and get 40mpg.. 

     

    To get the ~1200 range would that simply be 3 400 mile batteries(20k a piece) plus the same installation parts and labor? So roughly $95,000? 

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    Dang that's a lot of money.. You'd really have to like the feel of electric drive and be willing to keep it for a long time aaaaaand also be willing to do the maintenance yourself as I don't know any place that would work on a custom electric drivetrain. 

     

    Also, if in only 3 months you saved 8k and GAINED 200 miles per battery at what point will you draw the line and say "this is worth buying". If they are advancing that quickly it seems like a waste to even commit to the 400 mile range one for 20k assuming in a year there will be a 600 mile range for 15k(random numbers FYI). That actually sounds like the toughest part of the decision to me is when to actually pull the trigger. When is the technology to price good enough to purchase because, IMO, $55k for 400 miles of range isn't quite worth it. And mostly that is because you will have to do a lot of maintenance on your suburban to keep it up as well. Plus, assing all of this electric weight I'd assume you'd at least have to replace all four corners of suspension and brakes. 

     

    It's just tough to justify at that cost still, to me. 1200 miles of range.. freakin AWESOME! It's at a hefty cost though.. At that price-ish I would just rather buy an E-Class diesel and get 40mpg.. 

     

    To get the ~1200 range would that simply be 3 400 mile batteries(20k a piece) plus the same installation parts and labor? So roughly $95,000? 

     

    Pulling the trigger on this is the big question. Maintenance is very minimal on electric auto's. Since I built up my suburban, 1994, I pulled the 5.3 original engine, bored it out to a 402, 505 HP, 551 lbs of torque and bi-fuel so petrol and CNG. Filling up at home at 86 cents per gallon and the occasional tank of premium fuel has been nice, but the wife has gotten to a point where she wants things quieter and I know my exhaust is noisy, but also looking at enjoying technology.

     

    So this has brought up the conversion and customize it to be what I want in my auto and as I have already had it since new, continue to drive it or what?  Additional info, I have a 425 diff I put on. Total Suspension was changed from the original half tone to the GM 3/4 ton so it is very stiff now. Handling the weight of the batteries is no problem with a battery pack on each side of the drive line between the front and back wheels it should be very balanced. The Dual Warp 9 engine system would be 1000 lbs of Torque and almost 500HP with a 10,000rpm connected to my 4 spd transmission.

     

    So then invest and go electrical, I could put in a 220V charger or the 3 phase 440 V charger at the house for quick charges. Washington state is a paltry 7 cents per kilowatt so I would be looking at about 40-50 dollars a month to drive the suburban aprox 1200 miles a month versus $1020 in CNG or $3600 in premium fuel as the current engine requires.

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    So the original solution on my suburban would have been this:

    200 Mile Solution
    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00
    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00
    200 mile battery pack $28,032.00
    Total Cost $63,032.00

     

    With the new battery pack, I go from 200 to 400 miles and drop the price so it becomes this:

    400 Mile Solution

    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00
    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00
    400 mile battery pack $20,576.00
    Total Cost $55.795.00

     

    Reduction in cost of $7237.00

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    It's marginal increases, that over time will become smaller and smaller.

     

    Just like how when tin lizzies went from 8 mpg to 9 mpg.

     

    That's  a 12.5% increase in fuel economy. 1 mpg.

     

    These days pulling something like that off without any fancy enhancements is practically unheard of.

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    There are no circumstances where this would be a good idear.

    Face it BLU...

     

    The ELECTRIC motor has transformed humanity in ways the internal combustion motor could only dream of.

    The internal combustion motor has given humans mobility. COOL.

     

    The electric motor has given humanity to achieve everything else.

    And now, the electric motor will take over the mobility part too...

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    Frugality should be the main objective here, not fun.

    And there are far easier and cheaper ways to get fun, if that is what you seek.

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    Fun?  In what universe would a tragic electric conversion be considered "fun"?  It would be torturous, a real blasphemy.

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    I could see EV conversions being a thing in the non-so-distant future, along w/ autonomous conversions.   I remember a detail of the movie 'Gattaca'...nearly 20 years ago--people were driving vintage cars converted to EVs.  Doesn't seem like such a sci-fi concept now..


    So the original solution on my suburban would have been this:

    200 Mile Solution
    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00
    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00
    200 mile battery pack $28,032.00
    Total Cost $63,032.00

     

     

    For $65k, you could get a well equipped new Tahoe LTZ...seems like a better solution.

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    I could see EV conversions being a thing in the non-so-distant future, along w/ autonomous conversions.   I remember a detail of the movie 'Gattaca'...nearly 20 years ago--people were driving vintage cars converted to EVs.  Doesn't seem like such a sci-fi concept now..

    So the original solution on my suburban would have been this:

    200 Mile Solution

    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00

    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00

    200 mile battery pack $28,032.00

    Total Cost $63,032.00

     

     

    For $65k, you could get a well equipped new Tahoe LTZ...seems like a better solution.

     

    True, but then it is still just a Tahoe compared to my Suburban and the price has gone down while the miles on the battery pack went up.

     

    400 Mile Solution

    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00

    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00

    400 mile battery pack $20,576.00

    Total Cost $55.795.00

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    I could see EV conversions being a thing in the non-so-distant future, along w/ autonomous conversions.   I remember a detail of the movie 'Gattaca'...nearly 20 years ago--people were driving vintage cars converted to EVs.  Doesn't seem like such a sci-fi concept now..

    So the original solution on my suburban would have been this:

    200 Mile Solution

    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00

    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00

    200 mile battery pack $28,032.00

    Total Cost $63,032.00

     

     

    For $65k, you could get a well equipped new Tahoe LTZ...seems like a better solution.

     

    True, but then it is still just a Tahoe compared to my Suburban and the price has gone down while the miles on the battery pack went up.

     

    400 Mile Solution

    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00

    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00

    400 mile battery pack $20,576.00

    Total Cost $55.795.00

     

    I just can't see putting that much money in a 22 yr old SUV...a new one would be much nicer...

     

     

     
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    I could see EV conversions being a thing in the non-so-distant future, along w/ autonomous conversions.   I remember a detail of the movie 'Gattaca'...nearly 20 years ago--people were driving vintage cars converted to EVs.  Doesn't seem like such a sci-fi concept now..

    So the original solution on my suburban would have been this:

    200 Mile Solution

    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00

    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00

    200 mile battery pack $28,032.00

    Total Cost $63,032.00

     

     

    For $65k, you could get a well equipped new Tahoe LTZ...seems like a better solution.

     

    True, but then it is still just a Tahoe compared to my Suburban and the price has gone down while the miles on the battery pack went up.

     

    400 Mile Solution

    Installation cost approximately $20,000.00

    Part Cost approximately $15,219.00

    400 mile battery pack $20,576.00

    Total Cost $55.795.00

     

    I just can't see putting that much money in a 22 yr old SUV...a new one would be much nicer...

     

    Reasons to use a very Clean like New 22 year old suburban and convert to Electric.

     

    1) No GPS in auto or other means for the GOV to track me.

    2) Cheap to insure

    3) Auto is rust free, paint job near perfect still and I can customize it to meet my needs. Also no auto payment.

    4) If I do the conversion myself, I save the $20K installation cost. Might be a good project to do with my son.

    5) Those of us who grew up in the 70's remember all the cool custom hot rods and conversions done on vans, stations wagons and Suburbans. The pride of having a custom ride that no one else has.

     

    So if I do the conversion myself, then I am down to $35K Plus random other costs for customization that I do. Much cheaper than a new auto.

     

    I will say my wife also like you does say lets just buy the newest version and enjoy all the new tech and features in a new one. 

     

    Yet I will say that while I like a new auto, the new SUV's do not have all the space inside like the old ones.

     

    Things to think about, yes it would take a bit of time to do it, versus buying new. Have to think on this long and hard.

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    I love this: "Tesla has set the auto world on fire with their sedan..." :)

    th.jpg

    There are dozens of gasoline powered car fires every week. Should we start a thread?

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    Honestly, if number 1 is of any concern then that alone should sell the idea to you. It just seems like if that is something that crosses your mind and a concern then that concern will always be there if you bought something new with a gps or whatnot. 

     

    As for the insurance... would you need to have it evaluated or something to make sure that it is covered properly? Meaning, if you didn't and the "book value" is only a few grand with them only knowing it is 22 years old with a lot of miles and you totaled it and they only gave you a few grand youd be out a lot of money. Would the insurance company need to know everything you spent on it so you don't get ripped off if it got totaled? 

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    Look... the guy also runs a company that sends stuff to space with better reliability and newer tech and made in america for a 1/3 of the cost of incumbents that lie about national security - they import the launch vehicle engines from Russia of all places....

     

    I'm sure that the guy who fully is an engineer in any sense because of interactional expertise is not worried about his company in the long run.

     

    The whole mission of Tesla was to jump start (heheh) the electric car. Nowhere does that mean a future without Tesla but with electric cars being mainstream is a future that shouldn't exist.

     

    And also, electric cars are nothing in complexity to space. And some of the simplest brushless AC induction motors have as little as 7 moving parts. That's nothing compared to an internal combustion engine.

     

    Electric cars are fundamentally an extension of late 19th, early 20th century technology up to now. While ICE cars are an extension of the the age old heat engine - which includes ones that use external working fluids like steam from the late 18 to up till now technology.

     

    So... what does that mean? Simply put, people were able to, because of circumstances such as at the time perceptions of unlimited fossil fuels and of no concept of the consequences of environmental degradation - were easily able to tame the combustion of fuel and control it to get productive work out of it.

     

    I've mentioned before I don't like electric vehicles. It's only because they make no financial sense at the present moment. But the advancements being made right now are epic because there's the whole decades of catching up that's happening before us.

     

    Once electric cars become a stable technology, you probably won't see double the range and lower cost ever again. But by then there will be no reason to stick with the legacy of ICE vehicles.

     

    They are nearing extinction, one way or another.

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    I love this: "Tesla has set the auto world on fire with their sedan..." :)

    th.jpg

    There are dozens of gasoline powered car fires every week. Should we start a thread?

     

    Aww... but that wouldn't be hilarious.  It would be ho-hum.  I'm just glad it was not in a house garage.

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