DIY Game Changer?

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CometBoy
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Post by CometBoy » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 16:56

This is an observation regarding the changing focus of EV discussion forums around the world and perhaps the demise of some future DIY conversions.

There appears to be an understandable shift away from DIY conversions to production vehicles as a result of the recent price reduction of pure plug-in production EVs and associated subsidies in many parts of the world. The recent dumping of vehicles such as the i-MiEV in Australia is an example. It appears the Leaf may soon be heavy discounted here as well? Many of us have been involved in DIY conversions with the main purpose of using the vehicle as a daily drive. Others appear to like the challenge of a science project on wheels. Another group specializes in DIY EV machines for road/track or play with bikes.

I’m really only talking about those of us that want point A to B EV transport. For this group, one would need to take a serious look at the costs involved in even a basic Li-ion DIY conversion. After recently buying an i-MiEV at the reduced price, I could never build a DIY that could match the well thought out electronics in this EV. Things like the regen algorithms on the MY12’s work so well. It makes a lot of sense given that prices are just over $22,000 for a new (or almost new) vehicle plus ex-lease machines are considerable less (if you can find one!).

In our case we would never buy a new vehicle and take the deprecation hit. Likewise (as with many here) I have always built big projects. For example the MightyBoy EV project was my 20th vehicle restoration, most of them ground up projects. I’m an old guy... My background is in electronics and the mechanical area – most of it spent prototyping. Buying a new EV represented a major mind shift and something I never thought I would do!

So I will move on to new challenges, back to playing with robotics and learning more about OBD and CAN protocols. But don’t think I would construct another DIY EV. In our case, we only want to register two vehicles and the i-MiEV is here to stay! Can’t wait till I get to play with the batteries 10 years from now!

Anyway just some thoughts in an amazingly changing world.

Bruce

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g4qber
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Post by g4qber » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 17:02

http://www.evcorporation.com.au/product-2/

Would Ross's cars be considered a DIY conversion ?

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Post by Johny » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 17:25

Having done a DIY and just got it on the road before the iMiev price dropped I both agree and disagree. If I'd been doing a 1980s to 2000s car I would heartily agree and I would be really p&$$@d at this stage.
I think DIYs on regular cars is pretty much dead - for now - the demos will be gone soon.

But a classic car (or unique car) that gets a whole new life is another story. The look on peoples faces after they comment on the car then I somehow get them to look inside or under the hood is priceless.
I realise that I am different. Not many folk drive non-aircon cars these days.

One other thing. To have an EV without good regen braking is not in the same ball park. To me, regen. makes the EV - it's the big advantage over other motive systems. Not just hybrid or supercap (Mazda 6 joke) regen. Proper regen, that can take a 5kmn downhill and substantially help get up the other side.

There's other reasons, but that's enough for now.
There are times though when I lose the faith - but I've still never been towed and the chances of that diminish with each tweak.


Last edited by Johny on Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 07:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by EV2Go » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 17:57

It's going to be many years (if ever) before something like what I am building will be either mass produced or even low volume produced, but I'm inclined to agree the hand over a cheque and drive it home ev is here to stay.

What I do fear might happen, is forums like this die if all we have to read about is which air freshener in your iCar gives you an extra kilometer, which is major boring crap for those of us that enjoy the tingle of diy engineering.

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Post by Gabz » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 18:06

there will always be hard core guys/girls which make, restore or convert cars.
I like reading about your conversions but I'll never do one myself as I lack time, skills and/or money.

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Post by Johny » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 18:09

EV2Go wrote:What I do fear might happen, is forums like this die if all we have to read about is which air freshener in your iCar gives you an extra kilometer, which is major boring crap for those of us that enjoy the tingle of diy engineering.
I agree. I might have put it a bit more gently but that's a concern.
It reminds me of what happened to amateur radio many years ago.

Look on ther bright side - I'm sure that something in a smashed up iMiev or Leaf (or even Volt) will be useful - and not many people will want the bits.

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Post by jonescg » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 18:19

I look forward to building my converted electric car once I can afford to, simply because I can't wait around for a manufacturer to make what I want. What do I want?

A light weight, areodynamically sleek, long range, low-frills EV that can go pretty fast.

I don't want ten airbags, satellite navigation, digital radio, flatscreen TV or electric power seats. Ditch all that bling and spend the mass budget on more and better batteries.

In the end, cars, along with all manner of stuff, have gotten to become so amazingly cheap that a DIY conversion is always going to be more expensive. So you might as well make your DIY conversion a special one, as opposed to a Nissan/Mitsubishi/Tesla.
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Post by BigMouse » Thu, 12 Dec 2013, 22:21

I've been working for several years now toward the goal of producing an AC motor controller for the DIY market. Now, as I'm finally getting around to putting it in a car, the reality that the market has gone is starting to settle in. No big deal, I'm happy that EVs are taking off. I think instead of trying to commercialize my controller (and BMS), I'll stick it on my resume and try to get a job with Tesla Motors or another mob making EVs.

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Post by EV2Go » Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 02:57

Johny wrote:
EV2Go wrote:What I do fear might happen, is forums like this die if all we have to read about is which air freshener in your iCar gives you an extra kilometer, which is major boring crap for those of us that enjoy the tingle of diy engineering.
I agree. I might have put it a bit more gently but that's a concern.
It reminds me of what happened to amateur radio many years ago.

Look on ther bright side - I'm sure that something in a smashed up iMiev or Leaf (or even Volt) will be useful - and not many people will want the bits.


What do you mean??? that was me being subtle Image

For me what I hope to see in the future is less run of the mill cars being done, and ev conversions being done on something more classic.

Part of the ev journey is taking something that wasn't all that great to begin with and making it better through a conversion i.e. a 60's MG... Oil leaks can be, carbs that fall out of tune at the drop of a hat. imagine the classic styling with a nice smooth reliable electric drive train.

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Post by CometBoy » Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 03:19

Would need to disagree on that one....

Destroying a nice piece of history by making it “Better” has long been an outstanding argument amongst many of us in that game.

Image

This was project number 18

Even over restoring is a concern (this one actually was….. but still did well in concourses)

Bruce

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Post by acmotor » Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 04:34

Yeah, good topic Bruce.

The juxtaposition of the classic Vogue and the AC motor in natural increased frequency with industrial controller and better than average Lithium cells is a winner. Image So I agree that that sort of DIY has its place.

I've driven both roads and as others are saying, wouldn't go back to DIY. Now, the air freshner I use decreases the charge time by 3.14% (only kidding)    Image The production EV hacking will take off soon.Image

The DIY EV community has given much to the auto makers by way of a leg up in the EV knowedge over the years. So much of what is in these production EVs was trialled 10 or 20 years ago by the devoted DIYers.

IMHO the DIY world did itself a disservice by persisting with series DC, but then I have to say that. Image

Interesting, and Mitsubishi and Nissan are well aware, is that most private EV purchases in Oz have been by AEVA members, past DIYers and would if they could DIYers or introductions by the aformentioned.   
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Post by Johny » Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 14:54

Boy am I torn. I also agree with Bruce. When I did the Vogue there was an underlying concept that the car could be restored to ICE. Other than a few 6mm holes and two 10mm holes, the Vogue is as original - it just has a different power train. It's pretty inconceivable that anyone would convert it back though - it's already more reliable than it was and it really is a daily driver - every day. Humbers aren't that collectable either.

BUT I readily admit....
If the iMeiv deal had been around before I committed, the decision to bring her back to life would have been Sooo much more difficult.
I completely understand why anyone would ditch the DIY and get a $20,000 to $26,000 iMiev.

The is another reason for EV DIY though.

1. I hate that most cars I have owned were destroyed in bad maintenance by mechanics.
2. So I prefer to maintain my own car(s) (where possible).
3. I hate getting greasy.
4. The EV lets me work on it and not get dirty (for the most part).
5. I like to tinker - driving the tinkermobile every day is a heap of fun - today I'm running heaps of regen.

And the biggest one.
I like it that I drive something absolutely unique.

Sorry this post is so "me" centric - it is about DIY though.


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Post by evric » Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 15:00

Hi Johny,

I tend to agree - and I love the terminology: Tinkermobile

Eric
Prius Plug-in Conversion: http://www.evplus.com.au ...Holden Barina EV: http://www.evric.kestar.com.au

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Post by CometBoy » Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 15:40

Yes, love the science lab on wheels continuing projects and that is so great to see happening. As for me I love the design and build phase more. Once that's done I need another project. Having said that I would have kept the old DIY EV but can't really justify registering and insuring 3 vehicles for 2 people.

I think the I-MiEV will become a great machine to hack and with over 10,000 out there I'm sure this will happen in years to come. Just look at the scope for the motor rating alone.

Bruce
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Post by EV2Go » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 05:22

Maybe it is a blessing in disguise... those that don't want to go the modern brand new route, might spend a bit more on the conversions of the classics to justify cutting it up.

Those that were only converting the regular common stuff because they couldn't afford to buy new, might now buy, which leaves us with better EVs on the road increasing the status of the EV in the general publics mind.

Classic doesn't necessarily mean expensive there are some nice bodies out there just begging for a better power train.

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Post by zeva » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 15:36

An interesting discussion on a topic which has been on my mind a lot lately. I've eked out a living in the conversion world for some years now but have had to diversify over the last 12 months to stay afloat, and may soon get out of this game altogether (well, except for personal interest). The EV conversion industry definitely seems to be slowing down. I'm pretty sure the availability + affordability of production EVs is the cause, which I know rationally to be a good thing despite it spelling the end of many small EV businesses.

Like Bruce mentions in his opening post, in my experience there were broadly two types of people doing conversions - those in it for the project, and those who just want to drive an electric car (usually for environmental reasons). The latter group now just buy a production EV. The former group are the sort who like to build everything themselves anyway (which explains why there are a hundred different BMSs on the market, for example!)

My original motivation for getting into the industry was to help get more EVs on the road, so maybe it is time to let the big boys take over.
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Post by EV2Go » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 16:09

Immediately after I made my last post I started thinking that very same thing Ian... this could spell the end for many small EV businesses, I guess the trick is to identify the next big need, but now that the big boys are in the game that is going to be challenging.

There is however one thing that the big boys will never be able to offer and that is simplicity, like Johny for me one of the big draw cards to the EV is the self maintenance.

I may not have a cylinder head repair shop at home, but I do have enough tools to change a set of brushes. So perhaps that need to do it yourself may keep some people converting.

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Post by acmotor » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 16:13

Good 'writing on the wall' post Hoops.

'usually for environmental reasons' is the only comment that I would challenge. It sounds like a cop out. Maybe or possibly would be a fairer suggestion.
Apart from city smog and the cost of fuel, the actual 'last shower of rain topic' of global warming etc is just that. The new kid on the block.
Yes, the environment will be a natural benificiary of EVs but that is not alone or a majority driving factor. If it had been then sales in Oz may have been very different ? We have just suffered a 'green' government who did what for EVs ?

Affordability, reliability and suitability will be the driving factors.

I for one have been into Electric transport for over 40 years for the shear technical excellence of eletric drive. As such, driving a very functional, modern technology EV is very satisfying in its own right ! Be it a DIY with character or production EV. Image
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Post by jonescg » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 17:39

A sizeable number of those with EVs also have solar panels on their roof. Why is that? Cause they're all Greenies? Or because they know that harnessing their own energy is simply better use of resources? It's much the same thing.

Generally doing right by the environment is also to do right by your pocket. If it costs you financially, there's a good chance it costs the planet too. The devices we need to convert sunlight and wind into energy come from the Earth's crust too - and that's why they are (and should be) valued accordingly.

It would seem the most environmentally friendly thing you can do is stop spending money. That means walking places which are close, and not going places that are far. Can't see that being very popular.

Oh, and our last federal government was not a "green" one. It was a minority Labor government with one green vote in the house of reps and a favourable senate. They had more pressing things to deal with, like staying in government, only to lose out to a populist with no plan (on anything).
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Post by acmotor » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 18:30

Image it never pays to go political. We see the world differently. Image Good that you remind us that elections are more important than policies, or action on important issues.

I would say though that it costs money to be environmentally active. Seems my PV WT and EV have all cost lots !
There is no magic cheap solution, other than perhaps walking as you say.
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Post by jonescg » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 18:34

Did it sound like I was defending the previous government? Because I wasn't. With topics of discussion as rancorous as these, I'm afraid I have no choice but to invite you to my barbecue on Sunday, and we can thrash them out there Image
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Post by Renard » Sat, 14 Dec 2013, 23:39

An interesting set of reflections on EVs.

A personal position: for me, it was a challenge which I have enjoyed.

Furthermore, being in the country, I have 200km+ range which is not yet available in a commercial offering.

I have provided myself with a 98 3-series BMW in fully electric. It was, and still is, after conversion, a nice car to drive.

I am not held to ransom by BMW for expensive parts and repairs, other than minor matters.

I am not helpless in the face of any fault which may develop in a proprietary vehicle. What will I-mievs and Leafs be like after five, ten or fifteen years?

So I think there is still some scope for DIYers.
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Post by carnut1100 » Sun, 15 Dec 2013, 13:57

I don't drive an EV for environmental reasons....I drive one because I can remember consciously wanting an EV right back as far as 8-9 years old....
I read every article in popular mechanics on the Impact and later the EV1...borrowed every book on EVs the library had...read every website I could find later...I've just always wanted one!
I remain a very dedicated petrolhead...with way too many projects on the go!

For me it is about smoothness...silent drive...the tech-head in me geeks out over the technology involved...the engineer in me is driven by the efficiency of electric drive...the individualist in me likes driving something few others have...I've always sought out rare cars!

The environmental benefits are a nice little bonus...

I think I will still do a conversion one day....to satisfy my inner tinkerer...but when the iMiev came up at a price below what a conversion would cost I just couldn't say no....but I guarantee that if I had seen that converted Volvo 960 for sale in wa I would have given it serious thought instead!

I think I will do a conversion in good time when finances allow but it will not be just to have an EV as I already have that. It will be to have an ev I cannot buy...
Current thoughts are leaning towards an electric off roader....I have always liked the Land Rover Discovery since they came out, but the engines are seriously unreliable and expensive to fix...I also have a theory of an off roader with four small motors either driven off one controller or four controllers with a speed comparator circuit interrupting the throttle inputs doing away with transfer box, diff locks etc.
Disco also has huge amounts of rectangular spaces for prismatic battery cells....no problem hiding 50kWh+++ in there....maybe even room for a small range extender under the bonnet too, something like a 5kva diesel genset....
I can't buy anything like this and the only EV 4wd on the horizon is the Tesla X which is neither a serious off roader nor will it be under $120k......

I think that sort of thing is the future of conversions...the commuter market will be well catered for by off the shelf now.

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Post by EV2Go » Sun, 15 Dec 2013, 14:46

carnut1100 wrote: For me it is about smoothness...silent drive...the tech-head in me geeks out over the technology involved...the engineer in me is driven by the efficiency of electric drive...the individualist in me likes driving something few others have...I've always sought out rare cars!

The environmental benefits are a nice little bonus...


I don't think I could have put it better. Guess when it is all said and done the biggest reason for wanting to build an EV is so I can finally be free of petrol (or at least total dependency).

I feel like slave straight out history before the civil war. You will pay this much for petrol and not complain about it... YES masser.

At least with electricity I am still a slave but I can buy my freedom with solar panels.

A DIY EV doesn't tie my to another master (manufacturer servicing) but if I go that way, I do get to live in a nicer living quarters. Image
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Post by PlanB » Sun, 15 Dec 2013, 15:11

I like tinkermobile better than what my extended family nick named the Leaf (smugmobile).

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