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Video A Honda Civic With no Gas Tank (Video) 331

It took Dr. Adam Blankespoor two years and $14,000 to convert his 1996 Honda Civic into an all-electric plug-in vehicle. He's an automotive engineer and researcher, but if he can do it, you can probably follow in his footsteps and create your own electric vehicle if you are so inclined. He talks about a 45 mile range, with 30 miles as a practical limit. That's not competitive with the Tesla S, but there's also a massive price difference to consider. This is another person Slashdot met at the Ann Arbor Maker Faire. If you want to see what kinds of electric vehicles other have made, possibly for inspiration, the Electric Vehicle Photo Album is a good place to start. And if you want information on how to build your own electric car, using "electric car conversion" as your Google search term will put you on the track of more electric car information than you can shake a Tesla Coil at.

Adam Blankespoor: My name is Adam Blankespoor and this is my Honda Civic, a ‘96 Civic that I converted to full electric battery power. Took out the engine and added the motor and a lot of batteries. So, I drive it every day to work and back. My commute to work is 15 miles and it takes about three-and-a-half hours to charge that. If I use the full battery capacity, I could probably go 50 miles, but I rarely do that and rarely have a need to do it, living here in Ann Arbor. If I use that full battery capacity, then it would take 10 hours to charge on a 110 outlet. The charger that I have, it can use 110 or 220, automatically switch between the two. And so that would cut the time in half. I finished it a year ago. It took me two years to convert and I finished it a year ago and have about 2,000 miles on it. And one of the things that amazes me still is that, I haven’t had to do any maintenance really or any kind of tuning. Once I got everything connected, it’s basically been trouble free for the first 2,000 miles. And I think it’s less of a testament of my prowess and more of a testament of the simplicity of this system and the elegance of an electric drive. Interviewer: Could you walk us through the various parts of the system? Adam Blankespoor: Sure. So, everything from the flywheel to the lug nuts is original Honda and I have a WarP 9 motor and it’s a DC series wound motor. It can handle 160-volts nominal and up to 1,000 amps of output. This is a WarP-drive controller. It acts a lot like a dimmer switch. So my accelerator pedal controls this controller and it controls how much power goes to the motor. I have 45 lithium ion battery cells and they are 100-amp-hour capacity at about 150 nominal volts. This controller is liquid cooled and that’s regular engine coolant. And then I have 25 cells in the back along with the charger and a DC-to-DC converter.

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A Honda Civic With no Gas Tank (Video)

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  • Re:Practical? (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:35PM (#41528051)

    Since over 50% of US electrical production is from coal it's not like an electrical vehicle produces zero CO2, in fact full lifecycle analysis shows a modern high efficiency non-hybrid may produce the same CO2 as a hybrid.

  • Re:Street Legal?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anaerin ( 905998 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:46PM (#41528211)

    Oh boy, here we go.

    what about the stuff inside and possible outcomes if, say, it gets involved in a serious accident?

    Crumple zones and chassis structure are not touched. In a low-speed collision, nothing more happens. In a high-speed collision, there may be some leaking of electrolyte (The same way the lead-acid battery in your ICE car can leak), but there will be no dangerous inflammable liquids spilling around. Electrically, the battery pack is automatically isolated via inertia switch and circuit breakers and isolating fuses, along with contactors which separate on 12v power loss.

    Will the car electrocute the jaws of life operator?

    No. In an accident, the system is automatically isolated, as noted above. In addition, the power-carrying cables from front to back run along the underside of the vehicle, usually along the old exhaust tunnel, keeping them far away from anywhere emergency services may be operating.

    What if it hits an oil tanker?

    Oil gets spilled. Some metalwork gets crumpled.

    What if it gets involved in a collision with other homemade electric cars?

    Some metalwork gets crumpled.

  • by Darth Snowshoe ( 1434515 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @02:01PM (#41528435) []

    Hey, just incidentally the New York Times reviewed the Tesla Model S today. There seems to be a lot of electric vehicle haterz on Slashdot lately, I don't get why, but if you're legitimately interested in the tech, rather than just Detroit astroturf, the NYTimes review is certainly worth a read.

    "Put simply, the automobile has not undergone a fundamental change in design or use since Henry Ford rolled out the Model T more than a century ago. At least that’s what I thought until I spent a week with the Tesla Model S."

  • Re:Practical? (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @02:05PM (#41528489)

    Considering emissions on automobiles have been reduced by 99+% (CO, NOx, HC) since the 1970's but SO2 and NOx from power plants have only been reduced by 70% and 60% over the same time period it's actually proven to be easier to do it for cars in the real world =)

  • Re:Citing error (Score:5, Informative)

    by lkcl ( 517947 ) <> on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @02:46PM (#41529045) Homepage

    Dealing with stall currents is tough on EV design.

    most people don't know what stall currents are. several wikifascists took issue with improvements to the "wheel hub motor" wikipedia page, recently, when facts were presented that showed that the efficiency of EV motors is far, far worse at low RPMs than any ICE vehicle ever could be.

    for those people not familiar with "stall currents", stall conditions for an electric motor is when it is operating at or just above 0 RPM (i.e. stall). not only is the motor not moving (so there's not enough air circulation), but the electric wire, as an inductor, is capable of absorbing far more current. that just means more heat is produced, and that the efficiency is lower. a typical EV motor can be only 12 to 15% efficient (!!) at its lower RPMs! avoiding this worst-case situation is flat-out impossible with a Direct-Drive (Wheel Hub) motor. for a bicycle that doesn't matter so much (you can always pedal), but for a car it's a serious problem.

    this is why VW's XL1 concept car has a *seven* speed automatic gearbox. electric motors have to be kept in their optimal efficiency band, just like an ICE does. it's complicated! much more complicated.

  • Imports from Canada (Score:4, Informative)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @03:36PM (#41529667) Journal

    US electricity production is 100% produced from domestic sources, none of it from imported sources.

    Really? When did you surrender and become part of Canada then? []

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982