DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

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Digger11
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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by Digger11 » Sun, 05 Mar 2017, 17:09

Hi,
I have really really wanted to do an EV conversion for the last 5 years, but have not had the time. Now I am about to retire, I do have the time.

Problem is that the DIY industry in both Aus and US seems to have slowed to a crawl. Not many posts on forums, many of the conversion companies either closed down or haven't been updated for many years.

I assume the Volt and Leaf have been where EV enthusiasts have headed ??

Simply , I don't want a Leaf or Volt or even a Tesla, I want the mechanical and electric challenge of doing it myself.

The US EV forums have denigrated to mainly technical discussions about hacking CAN bus in Volt and Leafs, something I just have zero interest in.

Has anyone else felt the same ?

Am I mad in still wanting to perform my own EV conversion ?

thanks

Digger

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Ultralights
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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by Ultralights » Sun, 05 Mar 2017, 20:41

If i had the time and money, i would love to build a EV Hotrod, or something a little older, A Model T perhaps.. i already have a complete PHEV in the back yard, but sadly will move it on soon so hopefully someone else can use it to build a DIY vehicle.

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Post by poprock » Sun, 05 Mar 2017, 20:47

True,that is the situation at the moment. In times past any mug with a smidgin of mechanical and electrical knowledge could do their own conversion.( as proven by me) . Now , with mine RMS engineered , AS3000/2000 approval and NSW registration, I find that I have a lead acid devouring pet dinosaur which is demanding a lot of time and effort just to keep on the road. As the saying goes, " lead is dead ", so a cash outlay on Lithium is required to make any conversion worthwhile. However, if you have the ability, or friends willing to provide expertise and time, then it is a rewarding pastime. But any worthwhile conversion will cost $10k-$20k depending on the donor car. Like many converters I now see Leaf's and Miev's from $15k or less(open to correction). With a new battery pack at what? 5k to 10k ? It makes a strong case for not converting. But if you have a good shed , a large funding pool and sympathetic family(who may be happy to see less of you ) then it can be enjoyable. Now, howeve,r at 71 , I am looking for more leisurely ways of enjoying retirement.   Image

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Post by bladecar » Sun, 05 Mar 2017, 21:24

Hi, some codswallop here.

On the surface, this forum appears to consist of people with a mild interest in electric vehicles, people who built one because they could and in a hobby fashion or people who desire to travel for little or no expense and imagine that this way is a possibility.

It does not appear to be based on a strong desire to save the planet.

For good reason, to be sure, it does not appear to be populated by people who are prepared to pay too much in the interests of encouraging the industry (this does make good sense).

There is the solar aspect to this forum and that is interesting to those who have the capability and the intention to get on top of things.

I do believe that the major manufacturers are the ones who can put enough r and d and quality into building a new ev since they have to allow for any old idiot to drive their cars in any old way. (And there are plenty of those around).

Their parts are quality are well developed.

My memory tells me that not that many months ago, the president of hyundai was said to have informed someone that Hyundai would never build an ev because Hyundai would never be able to make any money out of it.

The companies are building ev's and they are comparatively expensive, which is completely normal. Unfortunately, the companies are at the same time the opposition to the ev industry. Their business model is to have all those petrol\diesel cars come in "for a checkup" and there are a myriad of small, ridiculously expensive jobs to be found in order to keep things humming for the people on the higher tiers. Wiper rubbers anyone? No, sorry. Wiper arms with rubbers now (we'll fit them for you for $5). So low numbers of sales of ev's (while they feel forced to enter the market) are a small win for business as usual. Whatever happened to the employee directive of 'The world is changing. If you can't change with it, you know what to do.'

Business has changed. Woolworths and Coles sell you what they want to. No, just shut up. This is what you get.
If Hyundai did say they would never build ev's, it's because they would be too good a deal for the motorist without interference. The costs would be too low because the manufacturers are the ones who add the costs. We take them back when we do because we're used to following directions. I say it again that this only makes sense when the manufacturers build cars that we could own for 30 years (if we wanted to) and parts and interest would be maintained. The level of cost that the manufacturers add does not add up to the end result for the motorist, a totally devalued vehicle at a premature time.

Somehow, we need an ev industry which is not monstered by the manufacturers. If we could have that, it would make total financial sense for the average motorist.   

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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by jonescg » Sun, 05 Mar 2017, 22:03

EV conversions are not dead, but they don't generate as much interest as they used to. 15 years ago, it was the only way to get an EV. Lost of people who had conversions done had no interest in tinkering in the shed, they just wanted an EV and nobody was selling them.

So for the 50% of enthusiasts who simply wanted an EV, buying one from Nissan was the best thing since sliced bread. But the rest of us are still keen to build cool projects, it's just that the value proposition has gotten markedly worse since the early 2000s.

For instance, I want to convert my Honda CRX to electric. But I want it to be good - not 50 km range crap, but 200 km+ highway range and 0-100 km/h in under 5 seconds. Said conversion will cost me the best part of $50,000 but it will be an amazing project.

...or I could wait till mid next year and buy a Tesla Model 3 with full autopilot, air conditioning, no rust or rattles and a futuristic look.

Both are really good options, and only the conversion would give me the full experience. But damn, the economics of building ANY car, electric or petrol, are pretty bad.
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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by mikedufty » Sun, 05 Mar 2017, 22:47

I imagine the ability to buy a 2nd hand production EV cheaper than building one reduces the already small number of people interested in building their own even further.

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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by reecho » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 05:28

2nd hand ex lease EV's have reduced the number of conversions.

But conversions will still continue. For older cars where parts for ICE are unobtainium.

Like a recent Citroen 2CV 3 phase conversion I read about. It just makes sense..

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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by Paul9 » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 14:01

To answer Digger11's question "Am I mad wanting to do an EV conversion?" my answer is "Hell no!!" Doing an EV conversion is one of the most challenging, and once the challenge is overcome, satisfying things I have ever done! I had a motor mechanic mate and an electrician brother who I helped build the car. In the process I learned tons. We started in 2008 and finished the car in 2010.

Since then I have been upgrading the car to achieve better range and top speed and "fuel" consumption. I keep records of some of my more common trips and can see how my "upgrades" have improved the car's performance.

The people on this forum have been of immense help!! The car would not be where it is without them.

What I didn't expect was the money I would save on petrol. At present the car uses about $2 of electricity per 100 kms which is about 20% of the cost of petrol to do the same distance. And I am driving something into which I had a large amount of input.

I am in the fortunate position of being able to afford a Model S Tesla if I wanted one but I already have an EV. And my EV is worth much more to me than a Tesla!

Digger11, depending on your knowledge of electrics and car mechanics, seek out assistance from knowledgeable people in those areas and ask questions here.

I reckon you should go for it!
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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by Johny » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 14:35

Hey Digger. I spent about 4 years building my DIY EV. Most of that time was restoration work to be honest. About 1 year before it got on the road I was regretting it because the iMiev and LEAF cars were becoming available as ex-dealer demos. Had I not have been committed (effort wise and financially) at that stage I would have gone the way of the "bought one".

Now, just under 4 years and 30,000km on the ODO, and having been waved down, stopped at Bunnings and various supermarket car parks, not for being an EV - really for being a 1965 Classic on the road every day - I am so glad I didn't go the commercial route.
It's a real EGO boost, sucking up the praise for driving a Classic (did I say EVERY day) then deciding if this person can handle the EV part (many times I don't mention it).

Like many DIY EVers, I drive an absolutely unique car.
It's not worth anywhere near the money it cost to build, but that goes for all of the non-collectable classis.

Would I but a Tesla (if I had the money) - no, but I'd like a drive sometime.
Would I do it again. Maybe - but I'd want to be retired first.

BTW I'm in Melbourne too.
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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by offgridQLD » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 16:10

Inexpensive new, 2nd hand and even more so wrecked production EV's most likely create a DIY home build conversion market. Rather than be the death of it.

Who wouldn't want a smorgasbord of sleek OEM Ev components at salvage car prices.

Just how mass production of ICE cars resulted in people taking 2nd hand engines and parts from higher spec cars and transforming other models and more so using the engines and drive line for there own custom cars.

I would say its the death of the niche EV component manufactures and suppliers.The small guys making motors and controllers and battery's. As there is no way they can compete with OEM 2nd hand components for price and quality.


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DIY Conversions nearly dead ?

Post by MDK » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 16:21

offgridQLD wrote:
I would say its the death of the niche EV component manufactures and suppliers.The small guys making motors and controllers and battery's.

I expect some of them will diversify into making kits for combining commonly found salvage drivetrains into popular cars.

Just like you can buy kits to fit V8s into various cars

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Post by g4qber » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 20:41

Conversion the only way if you need a ute
Rod Dilkes
Michelle Kwok
James Pardoe
4springs

Will be cool to see a commodore ute conv
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Post by EV2Go » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 21:15

At this point in time I wouldn't buy a commercial EV offering simply because it takes away from being self maintainable (I don't want to swap one dependance for another). I also decide to do a DIY so as not to be like everyone else, I wanted something that was not only unique but fast. Tesla now has fast sorted out, but at a price point I can no longer afford.

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Post by Jeff Owen » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 22:31

poprock wrote: I find that I have a lead acid devouring pet dinosaur which is demanding a lot of time and effort just to keep on the road. As the saying goes, " lead is dead ", so a cash outlay on Lithium is required to make any conversion worthwhile.   Image

Poprock
Could you elaborate on the above as it suggests a rather negative view of lead acid batteries? Some context may help readers considering a conversion.

What do you mean by lead acid devouring?

What do you mean by dinosaur?

What aspect of the car is demanding a lot of time and effort to keep it on the road?

Why is lead dead?

As I understand it, your car is used for very short trips around town, so how can Lithium batteries make any difference to the functionality of the vehicle. In this application, even the perceived long term cost advantage of Lithium may not apply.

Your assertion that "Lithium is required to make any conversion worthwhile" seems to be at odds with the experience of past and present Lead acid powered EV owners. How are these cars not worthwhile?

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Post by evric » Mon, 06 Mar 2017, 22:42

From past experience of fellow converters who started with Lead Acid batteries... They last about 18 months, if you are lucky, and then comes the making of a new battery frame/box for the replacement Lithium cells.

The other thing hard about using Lead Acid is that in most states a sealed box, with fan forced vents in and out, is required.

Basically the Lead Acid batteries can't hack the high currents required for very long, they are not designed for that purpose.

Lead Acid are about twice as heavy as Lithium for the same capacity and about half the energy capacity.
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Post by antiscab » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 02:41

someone needs to buy the expensive OEM EV's and crash them to create a source of cheap parts for the DIY crowd

For a while batteries were dirt cheap because the leaf modules were'nt worth anything. Now the price has gone up and the US is the main exporter of used batteries from crashed EV's

DIY isn't dead, just requires people to start buying OEM EV's brand new, in quantity
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Post by antiscab » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 02:47

EV2Go wrote: At this point in time I wouldn't buy a commercial EV offering simply because it takes away from being self maintainable (I don't want to swap one dependance for another).



The solution here is reverse engineering, as has already been done with Vectrix, leaf, iMiev, etc

Self maintainable is possible, just requires a substantially skill set
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Post by antiscab » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 02:49

actually, I would go a step further, a lobby for right to repair laws, that requires car manufacturers to publish enough information on their cars to be able to maintain them.
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Post by poprock » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 02:53

What Ric said. My batteries are 18mths old and are declining rapidly in distance.10k is now tops. The 89 Suzuki Carry is comfortable to drive; 3rd and 4th are all that's needed around town, but my self immolating Sirion was a much better driver. I am now regretting that my 90% finished 83 Sherpa was pushed aside to do the Carry. It really only needs the pirated parts replaced and certification. Driving it in the paddock I can see a much more useful life for it. It has the same 8" as the Carry. So at this point I intend to get my money's worth out of the certification of the Carry while finishing off the Sherpa. Perhaps in time Lithium pricing will drop quickly, making the Sherpa a better proposition. After re-reading my last post, it does seem very negative and doom and gloom, but it's not all bad. Image

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Post by Jeff Owen » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 06:04

poprock wrote: My batteries are 18mths old and are declining rapidly in distance.10k is now tops. Image
Total distance travelled is a much better indication of battery effectiveness than time. Wearing out a battery in 18 months is fine as long as you have covered sufficient distance to justify the costs. What distance has your car travelled in the 18 months? If it is not significantly above 20,000 km, then you either have the wrong lead acid battery or are doing something very wrong and have killed them.

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Post by Digger11 » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 18:18

Good discussion, and some great advice.
Still tossing up on the conversion, would be easier in the US where the Volt and Leaf batteries are plentiful.
I know you will all hate this, but looking at the nanny state rules, I am seriously considering buying a RWC car to convert so I can transfer the rego across and keep it going whilst I convert. A bit naughty, but so are home invasions and car jackings and the offenders seem to get away with these most of the time.

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Post by Johny » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 18:22

Digger11 wrote:... I am seriously considering buying a RWC car to convert so I can transfer the rego across and keep it going whilst I convert.
Not naughty - a good idea. You only have to contend with the engineer that way. With mine, Vicroads didn't appear to care less what I'd done to the car as long as I had the engineering sticker.
Registering a DIY EV from scratch would be a lot harder IMO.

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Post by antiscab » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 18:37

Digger11 wrote: I am seriously considering buying a RWC car to convert so I can transfer the rego across and keep it going whilst I convert


I have a blade electron with a bad motor and controller, and no battery sitting in my driveway

That would make an ideal donor car, mainly because instead of an engineering certificate it has a secondary compliance plate for the electrical bits.

you could effectively do whatever you want to it. as long as it looks ok, you could point to the secondary compliance plate and say it complies
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Post by Digger11 » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 19:22

Thanks for the Blade idea, but as this is a bit of a childhood dream, I am looking at an older sports car. Along the lines of the Karmann Ghia.
It will be special car that will get me to the shops and golf course at most.

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Post by Richo » Tue, 07 Mar 2017, 21:17

Digger11 wrote: many of the conversion companies either closed down or haven't been updated for many years.


Yeah I used to keep a list of ev part suppliers.
Most of them don't exist anymore.

I think we are in a lull period.
Instead of sourcing all the individual bits and making an ev
It will change to buying a wreck miev, leaf etc and making an ev out of that.
Such as getting one of those electric vans imported and using the parts.
Works out cheaper.

Petrol is still at a reasonable price so the drive for an ev or conversion is low.

The way I see it the issue was that there are so many cars, motors, controllers that pretty much each conversion was unique.

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