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Build Your Own Electric Car

Build Your Own Electric Car

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Published by Sheryl L Maiorano
ever thought of building your own electric car?
ever thought of building your own electric car?

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Published by: Sheryl L Maiorano on May 18, 2013
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Build your own Electric Car!
by bennelson on November 12, 2008 Table of Contents Build your own Electric Car! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Intro: Build your own Electric Car! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Step 1: Get a car. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Step 2: Remove anything gasoline related . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Step 3: Adapter plate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Step 4: Coupler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Step 5: Motor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Step 6: Batteries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 3 3 4 5 8 9

Step 7: Controller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Step 8: Other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Step 9: Now you make one! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


Author:bennelson author's website
Ordinary guy with no special skills, just trying to change the world one backyard invention at a time.

Intro: Build your own Electric Car!
The "Electro-Metro" Project. Can't afford a Nissan Leaf? No Problem! Build a cheap electric car yourself by removing the the car engine, replacing it with a forklift motor, and adding batteries. I have plenty of videos about this project at: http://www.youtube.com/user/BenjaminNelson and 300MPG.org The primary "build blog" for this project is at: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/ben-nelsons-electro-metro-build-thread-848.html but watch out! That is a good read for when you have WAY too much time on your hands. For a good intro to basic electric car construction, stick with this Instructable. For more in-depth construction information, check out the DVD available at 300MPG.org


Step 1: Get a car.
The first thing you need to do is get a car. They are not all equal. I was looking for something lightweight, with no power anything. Heavier cars need more energy to push down the road, thus limiting your range on batteries. Things like power steering and power brakes run off the engine, which is going to be removed anyways, rendering them useless. Power windows and locks add weight and complexity to the vehicle. I ended up finding a Geo Metro for sale, for $500. The engine ran fine, and the body wasn't too bad, but I couldn't drive it home because the clutch was messed up. Oh well, this conversion isn't going to use a clutch anyways! Make sure the car doesn't have anything major wrong with it (other than maybe a blown engine!) You want to do a Conversion, not a Restoration!

Step 2: Remove anything gasoline related
Remove anything related to the gasoline internal combustion system. That means that you are going to take off: Gas tank Exhaust, muffler, cat Engine Starter Radiator Coolant tank Fuel lines and filter and anything else you can think of. Removing all the extra bits saves weight and cleans up the car, making it easier to paint, run wiring, and do everything else in the conversion. If you remove parts carefully, you can sell them to help cover the cost of the conversion. I bought the car for $500, but then sold the engine, gas tank, and radiator for $550. Free car to convert! Make sure to not alter any safety gear. In this case, I was careful to make sure the driver and passenger airbags remain intact and functioning. Here I am removing the gas tank. I had never removed a gas tank before, and couldn't figure a good way to drain it. What a mess!

Here's a video of me literally lifting out the engine with a pulley and clothes line! Hard to answer my phone with my hands full like that!


Step 3: Adapter plate
You did make sure to keep the transmission, right? We will use the car's original transmission as a way to connect power from the electric motor to the car's wheels. The trick here is how to attach the motor to the transmission? We will make an "adapter plate" out of a chunk of plate aluminum which has holes in it to line up with both the transmission and the end of the motor. I pulled the transmission out of the car, and flopped it on some tagboard, then outlined it in pencil and marked all the holes. I then took that and the motor end cap to a local machinist who is also a hot-rodder and knows way more about cars than I do. He cut an aluminum plate to the size and shape required, complete with carefully aligned holes. The center of the motor drive shaft and the center of the transmission driven shaft need to line up perfectly. Before bolting the motor and transmission together with the adapter plate, we need to design a coupler that will mechanically connect both drive-shafts.


Step 4: Coupler
The coupler is a means of connecting the rotary power of the electric motor to the transmission to power the car. While there are a number of ways to do this, including keeping the clutch and machining the flywheel, I chose to keep it simple and use a "Lovejoy"-style connector. Lovejoy connectors have three fingers and a shaft-hole. Put one connector on either shaft, and a rubber "spider" between the two. Poof! you have a mechanical connection! Lovejoy couplers are designed with a keyway and set-screw, but both the shafts on this project are splined! Splines are much stronger than keys, but much more difficult to machine! For the transmission, I took the old (broken) clutch plate and ground off the rivets to get just the middle splined center out. The machinist cut off the ears, lathed a step in the Lovejoy coupler, pushed the clutch spline in there, and welded it in place. The motor spline COULD have been more of a challenge, as I didn't have any part with a spline on it for the shaft to go to. Fortunately, the motor was double-shafted (one on each end) and the back end went to a drum brake, which was the parking brake on the forklift. I took the drum brake apart, sure enough, it was the same spines on the back end. I was able to get the very center, splined section, of the brake out, and use it to make the motor half of the coupler. Line up the motor and transmission, with the coupler halves between them (with the spider in there) and bolt both the the adapter plate. Congratulations! You have an electric car drivetrain!!!


EDIT!: I ran the car all summer with this set-up, but a few weeks back, it failed. I don't think the issue was the style of coupler. I think the main issue was that I installed the transmission and motor in the car seperate from each other. Because of that, I never got a true center alignment and bench test. I rebuilt the coupler (with a little help from some friends - OK, I would have been lost without them..) by welding both female splines to a piece of flat steel plate, rounding it off, and adding a tubular jacket. Then, the new coupler, motor, and transmission were all mounted to each other, tested, centered, and tightened. THEN the whole thing got put it the car. Been working great since then. Watch the video - it will make sense.

The first three photos at the bottom are the original "Lovejoy" coupler. The last two photos are of the current one-piece "solid" coupler.



Step 5: Motor
What's an electric car without a big electric motor to run it!? I bought my motor for $50 out of some guy's garage. He had bought a junky forklift to build his own automotive lift, and had no use the the motor and some other parts. The motor was very rusty and greasy, but it did spin (not fast or easily) when I applied 12 volts to it. Rebuilding an electric motor is very easy. There are only a handful of parts to it. I degreased it, removed the coils and sprayed them with insulating epoxy, checked the bearings, put it back together, and painted it. I also had the machinist put the rotor on his lathe and take a tiny bit off the commutator. That makes it looks new, and provides a smooth, conductive surface for the brushes to ride on. I also replaced the brushes, purchasing new ones at a shop that specializes in forklift motors. $50 for the new brushes brings the total cost of $100 for a pretty decent electric motor.


Step 6: Batteries
The motor won't do you any good, unless you have some batteries to power it with. This car uses 6 x 12V batteries, for a 72V system. These are Deka Dominator true Gel-Cell batteries. They can not leak or spill acid, nor do they require watering. I was fortunate enough to be able to get these batteries, slightly used, for $12 each - essentially scrap metal prices! One downside of these batteries is that they are picky about charging voltage. I was finally able to find a 72V charger designed for these batteries, and got it used for $200. If I had used the more typical deep-cycle flooded batteries, I could have used a different charger, or even 6 12V chargers, one on each battery. Four batteries are in the cargo compartment of the car, and two are in front, where the radiator used to be. For the rear batteries, I cut two pieces of bed frame to lay across the spare tire well, and ran a bolt through the end of each piece down into the frame of the car. For the front batteries, a few friends came over and helped me weld in a metal tray for the two batteries to sit on. Then I cut two short pieces of unistrut, and ran threaded rod through holes in the tray to bolt the batteries down. I then insulated the front batteries with rigid styrofoam and re-installed the front bumper. I went to the boat store and bought a "battery charger power inlet". This is a male electrical connection with a rubber cover. Since the gas tank was already removed, I installed the power inlet where the gasoline used to go in. I added an additional circuit in my garage, just for the car, and have a 25' 12 gauge yellow extension cord with power indicator light in the end, just for plugging the car in with. Plug it in at night, and it's charged the next morning, automatically.


Step 7: Controller
The controller is an important part of the electric car conversion. The controller is a solid-state electronic box that controls the power (speed) between the batteries and the motor. My controller is a Curtis 400 amp peak PWM controller designed for use with series-wound motors. It can run on 48-72 volts. The higher amperage your controller is, the better your acceleration will be. The higher voltage, the better top speed and efficiency of the car. Also, keep in mind that amperage is also what defines range in a battery. Capacity is marked in Amp Hours, but draining a battery at double the amps will give you LESS than half the run time! Having a controller running higher voltage will use LESS amps to do the same amount of work. What's this mean? Buy the highest voltage controller you can afford! 48 volt controllers are cheap, as they are used in so many golf carts. 100V+ controllers get expensive real fast. My 72V controller seemed to be a good compromise of cost and efficiency. I bought it slightly used on E-Bay for $300. Follow the schematics available through the controller manufacturer to connect the batteries to the controller and motor with heavy gauge cabling, such as welding cable, with solid, heavy-duty lug terminals on the end. The controller requires a 0-5Kohm potentiometer as a "throttle". This could be as simple as a $3 Radio Shack part, or as fancy as a purchased, specialty part such as a Curtis PB-6 I split the difference and installed a 0-5K pot inside a free-from-the-junkyard forklift throttle control. Run the gas pedal cable to the potentiometer, so that when your foot is on the gas, it sends a variable signal to the controller.


Step 8: Other
Currently, the car is insured and registered, although the DMV is still requiring that I drag it in and PROVE that there is no engine in the car before they give me the emissions tesing exemption. This car can go for 20 miles on a charge, and has a top speed of 45 MPH, the speed limit right outside my house. In town is all 25 mph anyways. My typical ride is 10 miles for going to work, grocery store, post office, etc, and back home. If I doubled up the battery pack, I should be able to go 30 to 40 miles on a charge. This project has cost me about $1200 total, including buying the car in the first place. If I would have done the machining myself, I would have only spent around $800 for everything. This car charges at my house through a renewable energy program. All electricity comes from wind, bio-gas, and other renewable energy sources. I kept the back seat and can carry four people total. The original driver and passenger airbags are completely intact and functional. I mostly drive this car in third gear. Turn the car on - put it in third - drive. It's really that easy. There's no engine to kill, so you don't have to push in the clutch before coming to a stop. The motor has so much torque that I can pull away from a dead stop in fourth gear. I still need to come up with a heater. (EDIT: Please see below) I think I will wear an extra thick coat and gloves for winter driving and have an electric defroster on the dashboard to keep it from frosting. The heat issue has been on my mind since the start of this project. The inefficiency of a gasoline engine is a blessing in a cold Wisconsin winter. I did gloss over a few steps of this project. I skipped telling you how many times I took apart, and put back together, the electric motor. How many times I lugged it back and forth to the machinist's. A friend and I were up til 2 in the morning one night fixing the control arm mount! Or how I had to literally shorten the motor because it was too long to fit in the car! But those things are for another story at another time! I made sure to have an interlock, so I can't accidently drive away while plugged in. Make sure to have a nice big fuse inline of your main battery pack. All the little challenges of a conversion like this are part of what makes it fun and interesting. In my case, I did a fair bit of experimenting of the best way to run the power brakes.


Winter Heat: Sure, gasoline engines aren't efficient, but all that waste heat sure is nice in the winter. Since this car no longer has the original engine, it doesn't have the original heat either. The blower motor is still there and works fine for defogging the windshield. Some EV converters remove the original heater core and replace it with a ceramic heating element that runs on their pack voltage. That sounded like a lot of work, and I was already sick of tearing apart the dashboard. I already had a household (120V AC) electric oil-filled radiator. I just put that behind the passenger seat, and run an extension cord out the window to a timer. The heat comes on automatically in the morning and heats up the inside of the entire car before I get in it. The mass of the oil in the radiator stays hot for about 10 minutes or so after I leave. Most of my trips aren't any longer than that anyways. I like that with this heat system in that: 1) I didn't have to buy a darn thing 2) The entire interior of the car is already warm - seats, steering wheel, everything! 3) This also helps keep the batteries warm. 4) All the electric power comes from the wall, instead of the batteries The only down side is that if I am parked all day somewhere that I can't plug in, I don't have that same heat for the ride home. On the other hand, most of my trips are pretty short, so it's not the end of the world. This heat system consumes about 5 cents worth of electricity per use. BRAKES: One of the reasons why I chose this car to convert was that it has manual windows, manual locks, manual transmission, non-powered steering,pretty much manual everything - except the brakes. The first time I drove the car as an electric conversion, I found the brakes to be a little hard. (You CAN stop the car WITHOUT power brakes, you just have to push really hard!) It was just a low-speed test drive, but it was pretty obvious that I had to work on the brake system. Power brakes work on vacuum created by the engine. Without an engine to make the vacuum, the brakes just don't work the way they should. Some people say to find a different, manual, master brake cylinder and install that, or even just to punch a hole in a certain spot in the cylinder to convert it to manual. Neither of these sounded like great options. Really, I just needed an electric way to make a vacuum. So, to start out with, I played around with an aquarium air pump, just to learn how the vacuum brake system works. After that, I starting looking around for a 12v air pump with a connection on the "In" end, so that it could be used as a vacuum pump. A friend of mine dug one up, along with an aluminum bottle that had a threaded connector already on it. I connected the air pump to 12V+ power through a vacuum switch. The vacuum switch measures vacuum in the bottle - if there isn't enough vacuum, the switch turns on the pump. Now the car has power brakes, just like it did originally, only it's driven by a tiny electric motor in a little pump, instead of by a gasoline engine. Compare this to newer versions of the Prius, where the air conditioning is driven by an electric motor. That way, you can have AC without the engine running!


Image Notes 1. Electric heater pre-heats my car using wall power. Runs on a timer to turn on heat at the right time.


Step 9: Now you make one!
An electric car really is fun to drive! My house is on a renewable power program, where I get all my electricity over the power lines, but coming from bio-gas, wind turbines, and other renewable energy sources. Doing a calculation on energy consumption, comparing gasoline and electricity, the car gets the equivelent of about 130 miles per gallon This has been a fun project to work on and I have learned tons doing it. Keep in mind that I have NO background in electronics or engineering. All I did was go to the library, start talking to people, and learn what I could! If I can do this, so can you! So how about it? Are you building an electric car or have any other DIY Green Tech? Let me know! You can stop by 300MPG.org to see the videos that my friends and I are making to teach you, step by step, how to build your own electric car! I found that there was a lack of instructional videos in the world of electric cars. I bought a couple, and they all were TERRIBLE! So, I made my own! Stop by 300MPG.org to check it out! Take care, and keep it green. Thanks, -Ben

PS: if you enjoy the videos, please give them a high rating, this helps me to be able to keep making them! For more photos of this project: http://gallery.me.com/benhdvideoguy#100161 http://gallery.me.com/benhdvideoguy#100222 http://gallery.me.com/benhdvideoguy#100273 http://gallery.me.com/benhdvideoguy#100287


Related Instructables

Ride in my Electric Car (video) by bennelson

DIY Plug-In Hybrid Car by bennelson

EV Battery Warmer Part 2 (video) by bennelson

Prius PHEV installation part 3 (video) by bennelson

Electric Car Conversion 101 video 001 (video) by bennelson

Electric Car Conversion 101 video 002 (video) by bennelson

50 comments Add Comment view all 365 comments
Mar 20, 2011. 3:03 PM REPLY

fr334risT says:
That's pretty straightforawrd , also you look just like "Tony Stark" even more with all the "Mechanical Fuzz" lol Great Job! Looking forward to make me own very first car be an Electrict one :D So other ppl be jelous of "Why the heck that car doesn't have a muffler or why he doesn't use gasoline!?" Thanks :D Joey

HAI. sir i am an Electrical & Electronics Engg. student(1st yr) from India,Kerala can i make an EV as my project in last year ? i want to know about it's cost (around).. the course is of 4 yrs.

Mar 11, 2011. 5:50 AM REPLY

triniton says:

Mar 3, 2011. 6:47 PM REPLY Hello, I was wondering if you were to use a manual transmision and shift gears as you sped up or reached higher RPM -would it work?

bennelson says:
This car re-uses the existing manual transmission that came with it.

Mar 3, 2011. 7:10 PM REPLY

triniton says:
I know that, not what I meant sorry. Can you use it to shift the gears like it was a gas engine or do you have to keep it in 2 or 3 all the time? Also what if it was an automatic transmision?

Mar 4, 2011. 6:48 PM REPLY

jason the redneck guy says:
i have a crap escort im gonna do this to

Feb 16, 2011. 6:49 PM REPLY

goujosamma says:

Feb 15, 2011. 7:32 PM REPLY Fantastic Idea!!! I should start videotaping my self whenever my hands are full of something awkward... Oh yeah, the car is cool to. As a carpenter, mechanic, telephony tech, and pizza guy I can tell you that there are no end to the ways that I have been caught with my hands full by my cell phone! Feb 9, 2011. 7:17 AM REPLY

jevygill says:
need help creating a electric for my engineering project need to know the specs of the motor that u used . please its real urgent

bennelson says:
As you can see in the "rusty motor" photo, this motor did NOT have an ID plate directly on it. It came out of a forklift designed to run on either 36 or 48 volts. I cleaned up the motor, revarnished the field coils, replaced the brushes, and painted it. The motor weighs between 100 and 150 pounds. I have mostly run it at 72V, and it works very well. I have experimentally run it at as high as 144V.

Feb 9, 2011. 9:00 AM REPLY


To run at high voltage, It would be a good idea to advance the brush timing. Horsepower can be calculated based on electrical power used. At 72V, I might use 100 amps to cruise down the road, that's 7200 watts. One horsepower is roughly 750 watts. So, that's roughly 10 horsepower. However, I have run the motor at 144V at 300 amps, that's around 55 horsepower. Keep in mind that you don't have to rev an electric motor to get power the way you do with a gas engine. Also, an electric motor typically has more torque than a gas engine.

satcomguy says:

Feb 6, 2011. 7:59 AM REPLY i have been thinking about building my own electric or hybrid car for a while now. this site has nice kits but expensive: http://www.evolveelectrics.com/index.html. I am an electronics engineer. I was thinking for a heating problem to use the heating element out of a hair dryer or a toaster with a computer type fan so it it quiet. and if you build them smaller you can have independent temps at each corner of the vehicle. this will take a lot less watts than a ceramic heater which most small electric heaters for your house use 1500 watts. Jan 27, 2011. 7:13 AM REPLY

Lasant says:
First off, this is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing.

I was curious as to whether it would be feasible to integrate some sort of generator with the sole purpose of charging the batteries as your drove - increasing the distance you could drive on a single charge.

bennelson says:

Jan 27, 2011. 7:36 AM REPLY As a matter of fact, you could. This would be called a serial hybrid and is the concept that the Chevy Volt uses. See my further experimenting with a generator in the car at: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Plug-In-Hybrid-Car/

Lasant says:
Badass! I can't wait to read it in further detail. This is so exciting. Thanks for the quick response.

Jan 27, 2011. 8:35 AM REPLY

al_packer says:
For splined couplers, check out Hub City, http://www.hubcityinc.com/documents/6q-FarmProductsandAccessories.pdf

Jan 23, 2011. 8:00 PM REPLY

senchele says:

Jan 16, 2011. 6:49 PM REPLY I love your electric car conversion!! I would stick to free used batteries and use a charger from http://r-charge.com/products.html I have one of the little chargers, and it has saved a couple hundred dollars in batteries already! I have a pile of batteries that were frozen, and damaged inside that were not salvageable. I want to do a conversion, but haven't been able to yet. Thanks for the info, and the inspiration!! Jan 13, 2011. 10:14 AM REPLY

tizart7 says:
Inspiring ible !!!!

I am based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Middle East. Gas is cheaper than water here but I would really like to try making an electric Car down here. Keep up the good work. Now I will start looking for some good size Forklift motors.

lp115lp says:

Jan 9, 2011. 7:19 PM REPLY Rather than use lead-acid batteries I'd recommend ultra-capacitors. No chemical reaction to degrade serviceable life so unlimited charge/discharge cycles. No hazardous chemical reaction (hydrogen emissions) in-case of accidental damage or during charging. Weight reduction (faster acceleration, longer range). see - http://www.supercapacitors.org/ Imaging retrofitting all the 18-wheelers with a mini-turbine electric generator (Blades) and ultra-capacitors for hybrid-electric operation - strawberries from CA to NYC on one tank of fuel!?

chamunks says:

Jan 10, 2011. 3:50 AM REPLY Ultra Caps are not ready yet. They basically just work really great as a high demand buffer just like normal caps just way more efficient and fast to charge. It would be a great way to get another couple of miles in on a very short charge but not worth investing in as a main power source. Heres a link to a fairly extravagant UltraCap array thats been prebuilt. http://www.tecategroup.com/capacitors/datasheets/maxwell/BMOD0094-75V.pdf Read up on its specs it will tell you you're pretty much out of luck on this one unless you're going hybrid.

Electroinnovation says:

Jan 12, 2011. 2:39 PM REPLY He really neads to invest in Li-ion batteries. They are the lightest, hold the best charge, and, as long as your car doesnt burst into flames, are the safest batteries. haha :)


ve2ypd says:
vraiment super...félicitation , très beau projet

Jan 11, 2011. 10:11 AM REPLY

kmpres says:

Jan 10, 2011. 3:18 AM REPLY Very cool project, Ben! You did what I wanted to do in the early 80s with my then new VW Rabbit but couldn't due to work, family, lack of space, lack of money and all kinds of other problems getting in my way. I even bought plans to do this from an ad in Popular Mechanics or some such magazine. About 9 out of 10 of my projects don't go past the planning stage. You not only succeeded, you did it on an extremely low budget to boot! I salute your ingenuity and look forward to reading more of your instructables. You get a 5 from me, my first. Nov 16, 2009. 1:02 PM REPLY

boyaka says:
you don't want to over volt the motor very bad i didn't see you say anthing about that

bennelson says:
This motor has no problems at all running over-volted. I have run it as high as 144V with no trouble at all. Heat might be a problem with a smaller motor. This one is very beefy. Solid and well built. No trouble whatsoever. In general though, if you are overvolting a motor - keep an eye on it and the temperature.

Nov 16, 2009. 5:37 PM REPLY

menahunie says:

Sep 13, 2010. 4:58 AM REPLY I am curious that you have not mentioned the average range of the car? I have been considering either a car or motorcycle conversion. Also have you considered converting your headlight to H.I.D. projectors? They pull less power and the other light bulbs to led? How do you shift the 5 speed with no clutch; that wasn't mentioned? Cars top speed on the 72v or the 144v your tried it at?

bennelson says:
For shifting, you just shift - it's really not that complicated. The top speed at 72V is 45mph and 75 mph at 144v. I also have a motorcycle that I converted to electric. HID headlights are expensive. The lights I have already work fine. The tail and turn signal lights are LED.

Sep 13, 2010. 6:20 AM REPLY

The exact range of the car has been kinda hard to nail down. My original estimates were 30 miles at 144V, and 20 miles at 72V. Real world driving has been a bit less than that. I am driving on USED batteries. The limiting factor is the worst battery in the string. I finally got a small battery monitor that shows the voltage of each battery individually. That will help me track down the worst battery, and trade it out for a better one.

mosesravoori says:

Jan 9, 2011. 8:13 AM REPLY U can use SMD LEDS as Head light s which can give a range of 100mts I am using same SMD LED with some circuit and it is working good.Use batteries of VRLA siliocon gel based batteries..

bennelson says:
The current batteries in the car are Discovery brand AGMs.

Jan 9, 2011. 8:31 AM REPLY

Do you have an Instructable or other information on making LED headlights? I would love to learn how to build some, I just need the time and money!

chamunks says:

Jan 10, 2011. 2:11 AM REPLY Theres a chinese website called dealextreme.com that I got a handful of Cree 3watt LED's that I had modded into a keyboard as a backlight (my old g15 by logitech) when I first put them in they would shine right through the opaque part of the plastic so I added some resistors to lower the brightness. Basically you just need to find some kind of flashlight and modify it to run the Cree's I'm probably outdated though as I've stopped going to digg.com for my information. I find that its too mainstream to be useful or interesting. Either way when I originally hooked up this cree LED for testing I was stupid enough to think it would be a bright idea to look directly at the LED itself... Trust me dont do that even for a second while they are running or you will end up with a temporary blind spot in your eyes for more than a moment. (took about five minutes for my eyesight to return to normal afterward, I was quite nervous for a while there) All in all they seem to run rather well on just 5v usb power.

mosesravoori says:

Jan 9, 2011. 9:48 PM REPLY The LEDs shown in the project is not good , they burn out and also gives less Luminous.SMD LEDS are little bit costelier (One dollar each) u have to put rectifier to reduce the current.It gives good luminous etter than halogen lamp and takes only 0.5Amp/12Volts DC.The batteries u mentioned is a good one , make sure that charging cycles are maintained..


DragonDon says:
Hey Ben,

Jan 9, 2011. 7:27 PM REPLY

Been following your ibles, they are pretty damn cool. A friend of mine has an idea to convert his GMC Sonoma p/u and I've forwarded your ibles to him. As for LED Headlights, I saw this one sometime last year: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-LED-car-headlights!/ Might be worth checking out. Hope to follow your footsteps some day :)

boyaka says:

Nov 20, 2009. 4:53 PM REPLY i been hunting a diy site on how to build electic cars and i have seen that if you overvolt without advancing the motor it will start arcing to the brushes i have heard storys of people destroying their motors http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php/need-help-tell-many-amps-and-38479.html

bennelson says:
I've kept my eye on the motor. I have pretty much just been running it at 72V. It works great - no problems whatsoever! If I was running it at 120 or 144V, I'm sure I would need to advance the timing.

Jan 9, 2011. 8:33 AM REPLY

tycobb48 says:

Jan 9, 2011. 10:21 PM REPLY This is a great instructable! Question - If I have an automatic to convert, is it a lost cause? Any site recommendations to handle this problem? Thanks!

ramses says:

Jan 9, 2011. 11:10 AM REPLY That's amazing! Was the DMV okay with this conversion? It is my understanding that this kind of thing is 'tampering' with the emissions hardware. Were they okay with the lack of OBDII? How's acceleration?

bennelson says:

Jan 9, 2011. 12:11 PM REPLY I did speak once with somebody from the National Labs, who pretty much WRITES federal emissions laws. He informed me that I broke FEDERAL LAW by removing the muffler. I mentioned the fact that there was NO ENGINE in the car. He said it didn't matter, I still technically broke the law. But right after that, he said he thought it was a pretty cool project. I suppose, theoretically, I should have removed the engine, but LEFT the catalytic converter, exhaust pipe, and muffler in place. That way I would meet the letter of the law. For the DMV, the only problem I had was emissions testing. In my area, we need tests when you register the car, and then every 2 years thereafter. I wrote a nice letter to the state explaining what I was doing. The sent a rubber stamped form back to me saying to take it to my local emissions test station. Of course there, they had no idea what to do. The tried plugging in to the OBDII connection - even though I told them there was NO ENGINE in there, and nothing for their computer to talk to! It took a while to find the right guy to talk to. When I finally did, he took a look at the car, and quickly filled out and faxed in a one-page exemption form for me. All the guys at that shop LOVED the car! He gave me his card and told me that I was now exempt from testing, but should I ever get a testing renewal form in the mail, just to give him a call.

lp115lp says:

Jan 9, 2011. 6:41 PM REPLY "He informed me that I broke FEDERAL LAW by removing the muffler. I mentioned the fact that there was NO ENGINE in the car. He said it didn't matter, I still technically broke the law. " Just like the government officials in the grand ole' USA. Legislate to please special interest groups (in-exchange for 'favors') regardless of the actual science behind the legislation. Someone comes up with innovations which can drastically improve the lives of billions and, sure enough, some Govt bureaucrat screws it up. A few years ago NYS legislature passed a law requiring automakers produce a certain percentage of 'Zero Emissions Vehicles'. When I contacted NYS staffers for examples of what 'ZEV' meant they mentioned various types of power-trains. Trouble was - all those they mentioned emitted SOME kind of gaseous substance which meant they WEREN'T actually ZEVs. Even lead-acid batteries emit hydrogen gas and fuel cells emit water vapour (aka Steam). So unless and until lawmakers and their staff (who actually write the legislation) are educated (and willing to forgo payoffs) as to technology such as this - Americans can forget about saving the environment and eliminating one more excuse for transferring billions of tax dollars to the weapons manufacturers, oil companies and legions of lobbyists.

natemues says:
when buying a car does it matter how many miles on it or is that just have to do with the engine?

Jul 20, 2010. 11:20 PM REPLY


zack247 says:

Jan 9, 2011. 10:31 AM REPLY well iot sort of matters, since the miles aren't just on the engine but on the other parts of the car. for example, a transmission from a car with 100,000k on it will be in much better condition than one from a car with 250,000k on it, al of the parts in the car have wear on them, get the lowest milage car you can afford, the parts will (probably) be in better condition. i say probably because it depends on how well the car was kept, it was left outside in the rain, snow and heat, and wasn't washed very often, you can expect some rust on it.

bennelson says:

Jan 9, 2011. 11:48 AM REPLY The condition of the body is important as well. A car like this is unibody design. A typical electric car conversion is going to weigh more than it did with the gas engine (mostly battery weight). You want to have a car that will look nice, but also one that won't fall apart under the weight of the batteries, due to a rusty body and/or frame. This car's body was in pretty good condition, but it did have some pretty severe rust in the upper control arm mount. (Which I didn't realize until after buying it.) Apparently, that's a common failure point on Geo Metros. A couple other Metro owners pointed this out to me. It rusts out from the inside, so you won't notice it unless you specifically check. While the engine and transmission were out, it was easy to weld up a repair from inside the hood.

zack247 says:
how would it rust from the inside out? does water get in or something?

Jan 9, 2011. 4:54 PM REPLY

bennelson says:

Jan 9, 2011. 5:02 PM REPLY That part of the car is sort of a hollow box beam. There are a couple of holes in it that are for mounting some plastic part - the fender inside covers, I think. Water ends up getting inside through there, and rusts from the inside. Whatever car you get to convert, talk with other owners of that make and model to find out if there are any issues particular to that vehicle. It might save you a real headache later!

Azayles says:

Jan 9, 2011. 7:39 AM REPLY What a fantastic 'Ible! That was a brilliant read, loved it :D Did you ever find a decent vacuum pump for the brakes? If not, you might be able to get a vacuum pump from a lab supply store. They use vacuum pumps in labs for vacuum ovens and also for electron beam microscopes. Also a small gas bottle a tee junction fitted will make a good vacuum reservoir, as it'll already be designed for compressed gasses (although in this case the compression is coming from the OUTside)

bennelson says:

Jan 9, 2011. 11:09 AM REPLY For the brakes, I got a vacuum pump and bottle from a friend who works with machinery salvage. I have no idea what equipment it is off of. The pump I used is the one on the left in the photo. It is double-ended, and has both "suck" and "blow" connections of both ends. Also, it's 12V DC powered, so perfect for use in a car. I took some air tube off my aquarium and ran it from both "suck" ports of the pump, Tee'd them together, and ran that to the vacuum bottle. No, the bottle isn't an old fire extinguisher, although it looks like it is. Almost any bottle, or even a piece of PVC pipe with both ends covered would work as a vacuum tank. I think one of those metal drinking water bottles would work nice as vac tank too.

zack247 says:
could it be possible to reuse the alternator and charge the batteries while you drive like normal cars do?

Jan 9, 2011. 10:34 AM REPLY

Electroinnovation says:

Jan 7, 2011. 6:20 PM REPLY Not to be critical to your specific instructable, but electric cars are not green. They are far from it. All that power has to come from somewhere, and for 90% of the world that somewhere is still a coal plant. Im sure coal plants are more efficient than car engines however using electric cars should not be considered a green alternative...


zack247 says:

Jan 9, 2011. 10:20 AM REPLY dont forget that having a electric car creates less emissions by comparison, yes, the power plants do still produce emissions, but a electric car is one step closer to a greener planet. Jan 7, 2011. 6:26 PM REPLY

bennelson says:
I am on a renewable energy plan with my power company. All the electricity at my house comes from renewable sources. Yes, all energy has to come from somewhere, and we should always try to keep that in mind, and not waste it.

Driving an electric car gives me the opportunity to control where my energy comes from. In a gasoline car, you can only get your energy from petroleum.

Electroinnovation says:

Jan 8, 2011. 4:58 AM REPLY Ahh okay. I still just feel electric cars dont really help. Maybe a car with some built in reactor to convert water to energy or fuse hydrogen and oxygen to make energy, i dont really know im weird XD

lp115lp says:
" i dont really know im weird XD" You're not weird - just persistent. We all want an ultimate solution which can save us from extinction on this planet.

Jan 9, 2011. 7:08 PM REPLY

You MAY want to check into a small firm doing business in the UK making miniature gas turbine electric generators. Tata Ltd. recently bought a large portion of their shares. see - http://www.bladonjets.com/news/tata-ltd-to-acquire-minority-stake-in-bladon-jets/ Trouble is - too many people in authority have control over resources and the development of those alternative technologies which could eliminate both the climate threat AND their incomes. Sound paranoid? Consider the video 'Who Killed the Electric Car' (link below) and the stated reasoning behind the causes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (MAJOR petroleum reserves in each country) No one ever fought a war over access to the sun and wind. Electric Car - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39K36Rw7LYc Still - 'green' (as defined by the media) is highly overrated. Better to make incremental improvements than hold out for a 'silver bullet' and risk tipping the climate over the edge of no return. What would be the result of reducing the consumption of carbon-dioxide producing fuels by half in ALL applications within the remaining decade? I'd venture a guess weather would improve (more stable) world-wide with lower sea levels, better health and fewer armed conflicts and economic crisis. see - http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110107/ts_alt_afp/usenvironmentpollution

ToolboxGuy says:

Jan 9, 2011. 9:09 AM REPLY We consume fossil fuels of many kinds, which are not 'green". Even biodiesel is not really "green" in my book - it's just reuse/burning of a waste product, which also is not 'clean burning'. Until we learn how to successfully implement alternative methods and make them scale, we will continue to do so. However, electric cars DO help. The known alternative "clean" methods are electrically based, and making it so that Joe Schmoe can afford one (or BUILD one) is a gigantic leap forward. Once we get battery technology to be as "powerful" as fossil fuel, it will be the death knell for the combustion engine. Hats off to bennelson for helping to show us how!

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