Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Technical discussion on converting internal combustion to electric
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george
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Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

Hey everyone,

I live in Albany, WA, and I'm really keen to do an electric conversion to a Suzuki Jimny (2000-2010 or so). The main goal here is to build a fun, capable 4WD for commuting and adventuring in with my partner, while trying to reduce CO2 emissions. I'm a non-practicing electrical engineer, and I like to find excuses to practice.

I ran this past a someone from EV Works, and they suggested that this might be viable. Something like 25 kWh of batteries should allow around 100 km of range, which would be a great start. I have no idea about which motor or controller I might use, I'm mostly concerned with feasibility at this stage.

I read the thread about Red Suzi from @acmotor, here: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=615. Really interesting and exciting!

I don't own a Jimny, and will be buying one specially for this conversion.

I had a few questions at the moment which I'm struggling with:

1) For the Jimny, there is a tail between the transfer case and the gearbox. Would it matter if I used a manual or automatic donor if I'm going to remove the gearbox anyway? Would it be normal to marry the motor directly to the tail from the transfer case?
2) I gather that NCOP14 is my new bible. Any traps for new players?
3) Does anyone have any tips on any aspect of the conversion, including the choice of donor vehicle?

Looking forward to any and all feedback.
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jonescg
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by jonescg »

Very excited for you!
My usual advice is don't be alarmed by the cost of these exercises - we don't do it for economic reasons.
Get the best motor you can afford, preferably AC. The motor is the thing that distinguishes your vehicle from any other - it might as well be awesome.
Build the conversion as if you were going to be driving it under 1 metre of sea water on a daily basis. The system must be robust, waterproof and safe.
Build the drivetrain (inverter, motor and any adaptors) first, and make the assembly as compact as practical. Then worry about the battery.
Order the battery last once you know exactly how much room you have to work with, and what weight you're happy to accept.
Make the battery the most energy dense, suitably powerful unit you can afford, and put some thought into keeping it cool, as this will make it last a long time.

Our next meeting is on February 9th, but we'll have a Zoom link if you can't be in Perth. You'll need to become a member to receive the email though.
AEVA National Secretary, WA branch chair.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

Thanks for your helpful advice Chris!

I attended - and really enjoyed - the e-conference late last year, and am a proud paying member of the AEVA. I've signed the pledge for 2030, and this conversion is part of my commitment to that pledge. I'm prepared to pay whatever is (reasonably) necessary for the conversion, since I am doing it for environmental rather than economic reasons.

I really like that design heuristic of starting with the motor and powertrain, and then coming to the battery at the end. Makes really good sense. I also like the idea of designing it for operation as a submarine.

I may possibly physically attend that meeting, but otherwise I will certainly attend via Zoom.
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brendon_m
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by brendon_m »

george wrote: Wed, 06 Jan 2021, 23:37 3) Does anyone have any tips on any aspect of the conversion, including the choice of donor vehicle?
One thing to keep an eye on with regards to vehicle choice is the level of electronics. Older cars are generally going to be easier to trick into not knowing the ICE is missing. While anything can be done, the more integrated the ABS, SRS traction control, cluster etc is the harder it'll be to work around.
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brendon_m
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by brendon_m »

george wrote: Wed, 06 Jan 2021, 23:37 1) For the Jimny, there is a tail between the transfer case and the gearbox. Would it matter if I used a manual or automatic donor if I'm going to remove the gearbox anyway? Would it be normal to marry the motor directly to the tail from the transfer case?
If you are planning on ditching the gearbox/transmission, what the doner car is won't matter too much but have a look at diff ratios between the 2 different models, they may be different and one may be better suited to your needs.

Do you mean to keep the transfer case? Because it will allow you to easily keep 4wd and also will give you a nice little 2 speed gear reduction with a 'low' normal gear and a 'high' cruising gear. That's how I'd do it anyway
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

brendon_m wrote: Thu, 07 Jan 2021, 12:29
george wrote: Wed, 06 Jan 2021, 23:37 3) Does anyone have any tips on any aspect of the conversion, including the choice of donor vehicle?
One thing to keep an eye on with regards to vehicle choice is the level of electronics. Older cars are generally going to be easier to trick into not knowing the ICE is missing. While anything can be done, the more integrated the ABS, SRS traction control, cluster etc is the harder it'll be to work around.
The Jimny is a 1998 design, I think. I gather that's starting to get into the trickier end of things, but I like a challenge, and I'm pretty handy with electronics. I think it will be worth it for the coil springs. Thanks for the fair warning. I guess I might start by connecting all the instrumentation/wiring up to a giant data logger, and recording everything during normal vehicle use. That might help with reverse engineering things afterwards. Does that sound like a waste of time?
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

brendon_m wrote: Thu, 07 Jan 2021, 12:39
george wrote: Wed, 06 Jan 2021, 23:37 1) For the Jimny, there is a tail between the transfer case and the gearbox. Would it matter if I used a manual or automatic donor if I'm going to remove the gearbox anyway? Would it be normal to marry the motor directly to the tail from the transfer case?
If you are planning on ditching the gearbox/transmission, what the doner car is won't matter too much but have a look at diff ratios between the 2 different models, they may be different and one may be better suited to your needs.

Do you mean to keep the transfer case? Because it will allow you to easily keep 4wd and also will give you a nice little 2 speed gear reduction with a 'low' normal gear and a 'high' cruising gear. That's how I'd do it anyway
I am planning on ditching the gearbox/transmission; my understanding is that modern electric motors and controllers have a great power band over a wide range of frequencies, and I'll get more out of the car by making a more compact design, dropping weight, and making space for even more batteries.

I do intend to keep the transfer case. The Jimny gives a 2H, 4H, and 4L. So, 2H for cruising, 4H for off road driving, and then 4L to get out of a pickle. I think this will make the vehicle as versatile as the ICE version. I plan to improve the range as my savings collect, and as battery tech improves. We'll see how I feel in 2030.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

I was wondering also about converting an auto, and then using the existing gear selection lever to select reverse for the motor controller. Quite neat, I thought. Has anyone seen an example of this? I would of course have to manage whatever electrickery was required to stop people engaging reverse while driving at highway speed.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by francisco.shi »

A few points.
Engaging reverse at highway speeds is not a problem if the motor is running in torque mode which is what you want anyway. If you put it in reverse at highway speed you will get lots of regen (assuming you floor it) until the car stops then it will start going backwards.
This is more or less how the regen is achieved. A torque in the opposite direction of travel is applied.
As for ditching the gearbox there are a few things you need to consider. First is that most EV motors (other than teslas) run up to about 10krpm (max speed) and about 4000rpm until they run out of volts and start using field weakening.
So ideally you want the motor to be running at around 4000rpm at the most used speed (most cars it is about 60kph).
From the Pajero that I am converting the tailshaft runs at about 3000rpm at 100kph. I assume the Jimmy will be about the same. So that means if you keep the transfer case in 2H the gearing will be too tall most of the time. (Meaning it will accelerate slowly but will feed good at highway speed) also you will be unlikely to get the full power from the motor as this happens at around 4000rpm.
Most transfer cases have around 2:1 ratio between high and low. So that means the gearing will be about right in 4L for street driving but will be too tall for off road.
So you have two options.
1) use a manual gearbox as a speed reducer (even if you don't shift gears)
2) put another transfer case in between the motor and the transfer case. They have about the right ratio.
I would go for option 1 because mechanically is easier.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by T1 Terry »

Hi George, welcome to the forum. I have a Suzuki Jimny that I bought relatively cheap because the auto transmission had failed to proceed. You will most likely find the auto is the more likely to be within the price range for a donor vehicle.
As far as a gearbox, tricky stuff if you ever plan to flat tow it behind a motorhome, that is our plan. There is no neutral in the transfer case, only high 2WD, High 4WD and low 4WD. Unless you fit a powerful electric motor, you will need the reduction gears in the gearbox.

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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by T1 Terry »

2 options as I see it, a 2 speed powerglide box built for EV use, this would give you a neutral as well as a reverse and a total of 4 ratios, 2:1 and direct (approx) in the powerglide and the same in the transfer box. I'm not sure if the transfer box can handle gear selections on the move, so that might rule out using that while driving for ratio options. If it can handle the shifting on the move, free wheeling hubs are available for the Jimny so although 4WD is selected, only the rear wheels would drive on the highway so the problem with no differential in the transfer and axle windup is overcome. To really get into it in the bush, you would need a lot of torque from the motor you select, many times more than the original 1400cc motor had, the transfer case should still be able to handle that because that was the way it worked before after passing through the original gearbox.

T1 Terry
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Bryce
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by Bryce »

Hi George - have you spoken to Graeme at Suzi Auto/OZDIYEV yet? He offers conversion kits for Suzuki cars, as well as being very supportive of EV converters and is a long-term member of AEVA.
He's based in Qld - sites:
https://www.ozdiyelectricvehicles.com/
https://www.suziauto.com/

Cheers
Bryce
Current EV drive: 2019 Kona electric
Also in family: 2019 Renault Zoe
Past drives: 2011 Blade Getz, 2011 Leaf, 2001 Citroen Berlingo conversion
Past Conversions: DC Berlingo, AC Berlingo, AC Sprinter
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

francisco.shi wrote: Fri, 08 Jan 2021, 07:20 A few points.
Engaging reverse at highway speeds is not a problem if the motor is running in torque mode which is what you want anyway. ...

As for ditching the gearbox ...
1) use a manual gearbox as a speed reducer (even if you don't shift gears)
Thanks @francisco.shi , great advice, I'll try to get a hold of a manual, or maybe buy a manual gearbox separately. Probably easier to find a manual donor.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

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T1 Terry wrote: Fri, 08 Jan 2021, 08:54 Hi George, welcome to the forum. I have a Suzuki Jimny that I bought relatively cheap because the auto transmission had failed to proceed. You will most likely find the auto is the more likely to be within the price range for a donor vehicle.
As far as a gearbox, tricky stuff if you ever plan to flat tow it behind a motorhome, that is our plan. There is no neutral in the transfer case, only high 2WD, High 4WD and low 4WD. Unless you fit a powerful electric motor, you will need the reduction gears in the gearbox.

T1 Terry
I'm not planning to tow, but you raise an important point.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

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T1 Terry wrote: Fri, 08 Jan 2021, 09:09 2 options as I see it, a 2 speed powerglide box built for EV use, this would give you a neutral as well as a reverse and a total of 4 ratios, 2:1 and direct (approx) in the powerglide and the same in the transfer box. I'm not sure if the transfer box can handle gear selections on the move, so that might rule out using that while driving for ratio options. If it can handle the shifting on the move, free wheeling hubs are available for the Jimny so although 4WD is selected, only the rear wheels would drive on the highway so the problem with no differential in the transfer and axle windup is overcome. To really get into it in the bush, you would need a lot of torque from the motor you select, many times more than the original 1400cc motor had, the transfer case should still be able to handle that because that was the way it worked before after passing through the original gearbox.

T1 Terry
I've not heard of powerglide boxes before, I'll have a read...sounds expensive!

I like the idea of free wheeling hubs.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

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Bryce wrote: Fri, 08 Jan 2021, 09:57 Hi George - have you spoken to Graeme at Suzi Auto/OZDIYEV yet? He offers conversion kits for Suzuki cars, as well as being very supportive of EV converters and is a long-term member of AEVA.
He's based in Qld - sites:
https://www.ozdiyelectricvehicles.com/
https://www.suziauto.com/

Cheers
Bryce
I have not, I will call him tomorrow. I think I saw him speak at the e-Conference. Thanks for the suggestion @Bryce
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by brunohill »

I have a Suzuki Jimny here I would love to convert and also a Subaru Brumby. My wife let me buy a Kona EV, so I don't like my chances of her agreeing to any more EVs at the moment.
Have you seen these guys? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjY0nBIHpvA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=Iw ... e=youtu.be
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

Thanks for the links @brunohill, that's a really amazing project. I love the way they stored all their panels on the roof. I'd love to take a few kW of panels along with me for longer journeys.

I found another link with some tech specs and more details: https://www.unsealed4x4.com.au/solar-po ... on-desert/

It turns out that they converted 2 "Zooks", 1 with a motor attached directly to the transfer case, the other with a motor attached to the 5 speed gearbox with a custom adapter. I suspect that the gearbox version would be easier to use on roads.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by francisco.shi »

Considering the equipment they had they did a good job.
The biggest battery was only 20kwh :o
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

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I just got off the phone with Graeme, he was a great source of information. I will certainly be doing business with him at OZDIYEV/Suzuki Auto.

In short, according to him, there are 3 drivetrain options:
1) Direct drive (motor connects to transfer case). Bigger batteries and motor and controller needed, but lower part count (fewer things to go wrong), and good performance, with more space for batteries. Regen is possible.
2) Gearbox drive (motor connects to gearbox, then transfer case). Smaller motor, more configurable, but less space for batteries, and no regen (I didn't see why, but didn't ask)
3) Clutch drive (motor connects to clutch, gearbox, then transfer case). Same as 2, but allows for regen. Presumably also adds difficulty since the clutch will likely have special ICE/mechanical requirements.

Any vehicle age is fine. The newer the vehicle, the more work is required faking CAN signals for the sensors, but this is all reasonably well documented apparently.

If going for direct drive (option 1), then apparently manual or auto are both fine, but he wasn't sure off the top of his head if the ratios were the same. Some brief research seems to indicate that the transfer case ratio is a function of the year and transmission type of the Jimny, and so it doesn't seem out of the question to simply swap the transfer case with one that has the correct ratio.

He recommends trying to buy one with a shot engine or transmission to save money. Makes a lot of sense if going for direct drive.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by george »

@jonescg: Based on your comment:
jonescg wrote: Thu, 07 Jan 2021, 08:45 Get the best motor you can afford, preferably AC. The motor is the thing that distinguishes your vehicle from any other - it might as well be awesome.
would direct drive be a good choice? It would certainly cause me to use a higher quality, beefier motor.

I'm finding myself occasionally daydreaming about battery thermal management. I read your post on the website, and have been keeping up to date with your Prelude project. I do plan on doing occasional long journeys across parts of Australia, and I want to get good life from my batteries.

Looking forward to seeing you on February 9th, I've decided to drive up specially for the meeting.
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by brendon_m »

george wrote: Tue, 12 Jan 2021, 14:43
2) Gearbox drive (motor connects to gearbox, then transfer case). Smaller motor, more configurable, but less space for batteries, and no regen (I didn't see why, but didn't ask)
It is possible to have regen like this, but you need a way to disabling regen on gear changes. I did it in my moke by simply hooking the regen up via the brake switch. That way I only regen when braking and if I want to change gears I just make sure I'm not braking at the time.

Others have done it with a switch on the left foot rest or the old clutch pedal
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Re: Planned Suzuki Jimny conversion

Post by jonescg »

You will need lots of torque if you want to go down the direct drive route. So for example, @zeva 's RX7 conversion had two DC motors in series and joined at the shaft - that was enough torque to bolt straight to the tailshaft of the rear wheel drive car. @Sutho mounted his Evo motor to the gearbox of the DeLorian, but found that burnouts in 5th gear was proof it could have been direct drive to begin with.

If the reduction ratio of the differential is suitable to the cruising speed of the motor, then it's worth trying.

As for thermal management of batteries - it's hard. The risk of water ingress and condensation leading to a major failure is high, so you need to get it right which won't be cheap.

See you at Curtin uni then!
Chris
AEVA National Secretary, WA branch chair.
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