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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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  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:30PM (#41527983) Journal

    if you don't stop drivin' that hot rod Lincoln []

  • Re:Wow, I guess. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:41PM (#41528171)

    My Geo Prizm gets about 40 MPG. I paid $3,000 for it.
    But very few people buy great MPG cars that don't look like hover-future-sci-mobiles.
    Because liberals only care about LOOKING environmental. They don't actually do environmental things which won't help their social status.
    If you don't believe me, ask any economist. They'll back me up.

  • Re:Wow, I guess. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CMYKjunkie ( 1594319 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:44PM (#41528197)
    Same reason nerds here would hot-rod their PCs or other electronics: the hobbyist does it for passion, not practicality! What these people learn - at their own expense - can inspire and/or educate others.
  • Re:Practical? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @01:53PM (#41528301)

    There's a guy locally who did about the same thing for about a fifth that. To a first approximation, something made out of used parts with 10 times the performance of a golf cart should only cost about 10 times as much as a used golf cart. His first conversion project was, literally, take the guts of a used $2000 large electric forklift and put the guts into an econobox with a blown engine. His first upgrade was to a real VFD instead of forklift control.

    I suspect the guy is suffering from hobby-economics. So I built me a little carpentry project this summer using $100 of wood and a new $500 saw... Is that a $100 project? Well, no, my bank account is $600 lower, it must be more than $100. Is that a $600 project? Well, no, I only spent $600 for a project AND a slightly used saw so assuming the saw is worth more than $1 the project must be worth less than $600.

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

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @02:21PM (#41528739) Homepage Journal

    "They are you go?"

    But anyway, if you're living in Springfield, IL an electric car isn't environmentally friendly; the power comes from coal and natural gas. But if you're in Clinton, IL, your electric car is nuclear powered. If you live by the TVA your car is hydro powered. Fact is, if every car were electric, we'd be burning fewer fossil fuels, even though over half of the cars would be fossil-powered. Now, almost 100% of cars are fossil-powered.

  • Missing the point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @02:44PM (#41529029)
    You are correct, but missing the point as a lot of people are. Electric cars are important for reasons that have nothing to do with CO2 emissions. US electricity production is 100% produced from domestic sources, none of it from imported sources. Gasoline requires the US to pay various loathsome countries who don't have our best interests at heart. Anything that reduces US dependency on foreign oil and shifts it towards domestic electricity is a huge plus. We can worry about producing cars, even electrics, in a more environmentally friendly way after we break the dependency on foreign oil, or at least reduce it to an amount we can get only from trustworthy, friendly nations (ie. Mexico, Canada, Norway).
  • Transmission? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by certsoft ( 442059 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @03:20PM (#41529493) Homepage
    Why does it have a 5 speed manual transmission? I thought that one of the advantages of electric motors was the low-end torque, eliminating the need for gear shifting.

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