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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Electric Cars

Electric cars have fascinated me for years. Even went so far as to purchase plans for one once. I've little interest in buying a plug in hybrid or a commercially built EV. Too much money and I've yet to see a design I'm really happy with.

For years I've been running vehicles on waste vegetable oil. There are a lot of sound economic and ecological reasons to do so. One of the cool things is that I'm keeping old vehicles from being scrapped. They get a new life and I get to drive for small money.

Point is, I'm exploring alternative forms of transportation.

On paper, an EV would be a good addition to my household. The are perfect for short trips, much better than diesels. My diesels aren't switched over to veggie until they are warmed up. Not only that, I have to switch back to diesel a few miles before shutting them down for the night. The most efficient thing for me to do is long trips. I try and schedule my errands together so that once I get burning waste veggie, I can leave it there. The worse thing is something like a 5 mile trip to the corner store. In cold weather, the vehicle has just heated up enough to switch to veggie, but then it's time to switch to diesel again.

An EV would be perfect for those short trips to the store. A 50 mile useful range would handle most of my day to day driving. Lot's of homebuilt kits achieve that sort of millage -on paper. Now subtract millage for hilly driving. Subtract millage for power lost at the battery bank during cold weather. Subtract millage for traveling on unplowed snow covered roads. Once all that's figured in, would I even be able to make that 10 mile round trip to the corner store? Still doing research on that and would love any real world input.

If I ever did get an EV, I'd probably convert a small gas vehicle. Plenty of decent vehicles with bad engines out there. I've a possible source for good used forklift motors for free. (I know a guy who knows a guy . . .) They can be altered to run at higher voltages. Others have done successful conversions with them. There's no skimping on batteries and electronic gizmos like controllers. I've access to machine shops and skilled mechanics who'll work for barter. No doubt a decent conversion could be done for a reasonable outlay of cash.

Here's the rub -how do I charge the beast? I'm already trying to get off the grid. Ideally, the EV would be charged off its own alternative energy system. Picture a big solar array on the roof of a garage. Now this project is getting out of hand. Charging off a generator is a horrible idea -hugely inefficient. Better to just run your car on what ever the generator would be run on: gas, diesel, WVO, propane -whatever.

Right now, the numbers just don't work for me. Still, I can't get the concept out of my head. There's got to be a way to make it work.



  1. You sure have the bases covered. I've never given any thought to an electric vehicle, because I never heard of any that could hack it off road and I have to go off road to get home. It's an intriguing thought though.

  2. Was thinking of converting something like a Ford Ranger. The Chevy S-10 or S-15 is lighter, but their box frames tend to rust out from our road salt.

    Older Rangers tend to be in better shape in this part of the woods. I'd like to mount the batteries below the bed. Lower center of gravity and still keeps usable space in the box. 4x4 would be nice, but the added weight and rolling resistance reduce range even more. Should have plenty of traction with all those batteries in the back.