EV economics

Technical discussion on converting internal combustion to electric
Freetime
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Post by Freetime » Tue, 22 Apr 2008, 03:51

I have started this thread to encourage input from experienced EVers and associated experts. I have scanned the web and EV forums over the last few weeks and slowly I'm getting a handle on where the industry is at and what I am up against with regard to a conversion.
I would like to make a series of statements here to encourage your feedback and opinions, whether you agree or not and why.

1. If the purpose of a conversion is to save money, think again. With current battery technology, the ongoing running costs, factoring in battery replacement, can be greater than an ICE and factoring in the initial installation costs, will be significatly greater than an ICE car.
2. Clean air is the only winner, but no gvt rebates or incentives are available to EVers.
3. AC technology and LiFeP02 batteries are superior but as Ian Hooper points out, are showstoppers due to the price of these items. In the right application though, they may be more cost effective than Lead Acid and DC.
4. The best regen breaking is available if using an AC motor. This can extend total range by about 10-15%, depending on terrain.
5. regen is possible with DC setups?
6. I am obsessed with the Regen concept..particularly since driving heavy vehicles where it was a battle to hold these old beasts back on steep hills using gearing, exhaust breaks and pedal - I used to dream up ways of channelling that wasted energy, so it could be re injected back into the drivetrain when it was needed on the next uphill. Is my obsession warranted when it comes to lightweight vehicles??

SO, can I have a four to five seater sedan or wagon, 20,000 k per year mostly sort trips of 2 to 100km in a day, AC LifeP04 with Regen, Air conditioning, heater AND save money if measured over a period of 5 years or more. I would want to keep the car for at least 10.

As a newbie I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation for the quality of the posts and the immense amount of free advice and learning that is available to the public and all for such a good cause. I hope to also share an EVAlbum before long,

thanks,

Bob Elton

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Post by jpcw » Tue, 22 Apr 2008, 04:13

Welcome to the forums Freetime. The below is not meant to sound critical at all to your comments as they are all valid.

Couple of comments.

1) Not really. I spent about $3000 in fuel per year plus almost $1000 in servicing. Using lead acids cost me a total of $3000 (really BIG pack, 550kg). As long as I get a couple of years out of it I'm ahead on the batteries. As to the conversion cost I sold my old car which more than pays for the entire conversion.
2) So, I'm not doing it for the rebates.
3) Yes. I'm going lead acid and DC on the first project though.
4) Regen is possible on C just not as good.
5) See 4
6) Yep regen is great for breaking, unless you live on top of a hill and go down with a full charge. It is not however the bee all and end all. A far more efficient method is to actually coast as long as you can, unlike an ice when you coast you use absolutely 0 "fuel" and it creates no drag from the motor.

To answer your question, yes you can but yes you have to invest and put in effort. But a few other things to look at with a conversion

1)Low service costs. Only servicing are breaks etc and maybe a gearbox oil change if you keep the gearbox. It cost me anywhere between $700 - $1000 per year in servicing for my Tiburon.
2)With a good conversion you can get better performance than the original. You really do need to talk to Rob and see if you can get a drive in the mustang.
3)Longevity, if you convert the right car and do it properly you will end up keeping it longer than the 3 year average that most people keep their normal cars.
4)People love it, the “showoff” factor can't be ignored.
5)Converting a car is actually a lot of fun, particularly if you take your time and don't stress out about things.

EDIT, one further thing. Most people “upgrade” their cars every 3 – 4 years. I counted the conversion cost itself as that upgrade. If I hadn't converted I would have probably spend another $30,000 on a new car. As it is I have spent $9000 all up doing my conversion and still gotten my “new” car. So again I'm way ahead.
Last edited by jpcw on Mon, 21 Apr 2008, 18:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by acmotor » Tue, 22 Apr 2008, 04:56

Ok all you guys who talk about regen on a series DC motor. Show me an RPM vs regen torque graph. Technically, regen on series DC is a token, and only at higher revs.
Here is my AC regen.....
0 to 4000RPM   345Nm in motor or generator at 90% efficiency. You can draw the straight line yourself.

The potential damage to the commutator on a series DC motor is probably not worth the little energy return that a cleaver controller can manage.

If you want regen and DC then use brushless DC. (which is synchronous AC anyway)

Regen on an AC system almost TOTALY saves the vehicle's mechanical brakes. So not only does it save energy it saves on wear and tear.
.... and for that matter, what gearbox oil ?
I can almost lock the back wheels if I use max regen.

The next AC conversion I am working on will not have the vacuum power brakes boost. It will have regen on the brake pedal to function like power brakes, with the normal brakes behind that. Another conversion cost saving.

Listen to Ian though. DC is good for low cost and simplicity. Lead acid works. Lithium is better and probably more economical in the long run.

Ian, I wonder though, if you are prepared to pay big $ for the batteries then why not pay for AC ?
I wonder how an MX-5 would go with an AC-150 in it ?

Regen down hill on full batteries is covered by one of three options...
Dump power to a brake resistor so vehicle braking still works or use up the power in your sound system subs and underglow neons !... or tell the controller to back off the regen automatically.

But back to economics.
There are plenty of low cost functional DC/lead acid EVs in the world and there are the LiPo AC jobs for the "I want more" budget. You choose.
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Post by jpcw » Tue, 22 Apr 2008, 05:31

I can only go by what others who have used the ZAPI say for the regen until I get mine finished. In a couple of weeks I can give you some real feedback. From what I have been told the regen is enough to give you very good deceleration, ie through you in to the seatbelt. As to what that translates to in power return I don't know. My view on it is that while not as good as AC at the very least it helps the breaks at higher speed and give a little back. With over 550kg of batteries my brakes are going to need all the help they can get :)

When I get mine finished an licensed your welcome to come for a test drive if you like.
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Post by acmotor » Tue, 22 Apr 2008, 06:40

BTW which model Zapi ? is it the contactor special that changes from series to PWM shunt ? I recall various 'plug breaking' ideas in there.
Make certain you monitor battery current and see that it is actually regen and not driven braking or injection braking. These are common DC motor techniques.
Do you have to adjust your brush advance ?

Yes to a test drive, anything electric.

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Post by zeva » Tue, 22 Apr 2008, 08:08

My 2 cents (and/or rant).. Image
Freetime wrote:1. If the purpose of a conversion is to save money, think again. With current battery technology, the ongoing running costs, factoring in battery replacement, can be greater than an ICE and factoring in the initial installation costs, will be significatly greater than an ICE car.
2. Clean air is the only winner, but no gvt rebates or incentives are available to EVers.
It depends how you do your sums - usually when I weight it up I figure you roughly break even (including conversion costs ameliorated over the vehicle's life), but I absolutely agree that economics should not be your primary motivation.

Here's the problem.. Doing a conversion is a little bit like building a petrol car from spare parts. It costs FAR more than it would for mass-produced vehicles. So when you consider it that way, it's remarkable that backyard converters can build something that's economically comparable to mass produced petrol vehicles. (And with the added benefit of zero emissions, of course!)

I know for a fact that LiFePO4s can be purchased in OEM quantities for about half what a private converter has to pay, and it's a similar story with other EV components. Just imagine if an automaker decided to mass produce an electric car, how price-competitive they could be! Well, that day will come, but only once the demand for them is unequivocal.

In my opinion we converters are the pioneers of things to come, and play a very important role in changing public opinion about electric vehicles. I meet so many people who still don't even realise it's possible to run a car off an electric motor.. We've got a long way to go.
Freetime wrote:6. I am obsessed with the Regen concept..particularly since driving heavy vehicles where it was a battle to hold these old beasts back on steep hills using gearing, exhaust breaks and pedal - I used to dream up ways of channelling that wasted energy, so it could be re injected back into the drivetrain when it was needed on the next uphill. Is my obsession warranted when it comes to lightweight vehicles??
Regen is another feature which is hard to justify economically, but is great for other reasons. In general it is much cheaper to just have a 10-20% larger battery pack with a DC drive than having an AC drive - but recapturing your kinetic energy as you slow down is such a technically beautiful solution compared to disc brakes. So yes, I highly recommend AC drives if you can afford them.

My humble opinion.. Right now we just need to get electric cars on the road and in the public eye. Far more people will buy a lead acid / DC conversion for $10K than would consider a lithium / AC conversion for $30K. But yes, we also need people who are willing to spend the money on high end conversions to show what's really possible.
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Post by jpcw » Tue, 22 Apr 2008, 15:25

acmotor wrote: BTW which model Zapi ? is it the contactor special that changes from series to PWM shunt ? I recall various 'plug breaking' ideas in there.
Make certain you monitor battery current and see that it is actually regen and not driven braking or injection braking. These are common DC motor techniques.
Do you have to adjust your brush advance ?

Yes to a test drive, anything electric.

ZAPI H2 120V 600A. It is supposed to be true regen according to all the documentation and from the people who have used it in the US. The contactors change it over to regen mode. They use them a lot in the electric forklift industry.

On the Advance DC motors you do apparently have to adjust the brush advance, supposably it doesn’t make a lot of difference to the motor efficiency. I’m going to run for a while with regen mode off and then switch it on to compare the difference.
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Post by markrmarkr » Wed, 04 Jun 2008, 21:22

I'm pretty new to all this so maybe I'm full of hot air and don't know what I'm talking about, but I keep seeing a lot about how AC is so much more expensive than DC "$10K vs $30K". I just can't see this. Ive done a couple of weeks of research and to me this just looks wrong.

For comparison lets say the batteries are the same - not really true as for AC you would want higher voltage - but this is more an advantage for AC as it reduces I**R losses cable thicknesses motor weight/size etc. And with good Regen you could reduce pack size too - saving more $.

Also say the donor, Mounting, Adapters, etc are all the same.

Gearbox related costs are if anything less for AC as you are more likely to decide to do without it, but lets assume it is the same as I have calculated based on a low RPM motor below.

Costs for a 20KW continuous AC system (40KW peak):

Motor      $2.5K - 3 phase Induction with feedback
Controller $1.6K - low end Analogue PWM servo amp

as far as I can see everything is really in the same ballpark.

Maybe with higher voltage the BM will be more expensive but not that much.   Also I guess setting up will be more tricky for the average punter and they may need some help from an expert, and that can cost, but surely it's still not that much.

Somebody please tell me where I am going wrong.

Last edited by markrmarkr on Wed, 04 Jun 2008, 15:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Benonymous » Tue, 10 Jun 2008, 05:18

I don't think you're wrong Mark. I think an AC conversion could be in the same ballpark as a DC conversion. In addition to that. There are a huge number of second hand AC motors out there but very few DC. With some shopping around, you could probably find an AC motor for less than the price you estimated. I think another factor is that in NSW at least, the EV conversion movement has some real veterans who have been doing it for years and they have used, primarily, DC motors and lead acid batteries.

I'm hoping to get my hands on a second hand AC drive soon and use it for a conversion. 4x4Kiwi is doing the same and is quite well advanced on his project.

DC motors, in my opinion, are not going to have a future in EV conversions and production EV's. They fill a critical gap in the market as they are a readily available piece of hardware and easy to understand. The future lies with permanent magnet AC motors in my opinion as they are the only motors that have been able to achieve efficiencies in the mid nineties. Unless battery technology takes such a leap that motor efficiency is irrelevant, PM AC is going to rule the roost.

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Post by markrmarkr » Tue, 10 Jun 2008, 17:24

Ben, thank you for your reply.

As you say there is a lot of second hand AC gear out there.   In my post I was showing new prices. I'm sure you could do much better with second hand.

Which drive were you looking for.

I personally prefer an Induction motor as they are the cheapest of the cheap. Especially second hand. And practically indestructible. Only prob is feedback which is generally not available - unless you add it yourself. And you really must have feedback to be usable.   Efficiency in the low 90s is available too.

Ah variety - the space of life.

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Post by acmotor » Tue, 10 Jun 2008, 20:53

I run an AC induction motor with an add on encoder feedback.
www.evalbum.com/1149 if you dont know it.
I can operate with or without the encoder, both work. It is largely up to the brains in the VSD. Don't confuse the encoder with the commutaion pickup of a brushless DC motor.
The encoder helps with recovery from an overload condition (VSD does not have to do a flying start and find the motor RPM) and results in max torque being available at zero RPM. In reality the motor is never held at zero RPM and max torque anyway.


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Post by a4x4kiwi » Wed, 11 Jun 2008, 00:31

I am planning to make an aluminium collar to put on the drive shaft of my induction motor with 8-12 grub screws in it.

I will use a hall effect sensor to detect the passing of the grub screws in order to have speed feedback. proper motor speed pickups for a 45mm shaft start at about $1100. way too much!

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Post by acmotor » Wed, 11 Jun 2008, 03:12

Mal, I tried a hall effect p.u. on one project and found that the response time (rise) of the HE was too slow at higher revs. I changed to an inductive p.u. with O/C output and that worked fine into the Danfoss 24V pulse input.
This gave an RPM signal but no direction of course. You could try mounting a second p.u. to give two pulse streams at 90deg.
(standard A/B encoder quadrature).
Just a thought.... Rather than grub screws you could fit a straight cut gear on the motor shaft and use an inductive p.u. This would give more, and uniform steps. This may be important at low revs.
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Post by markrmarkr » Wed, 11 Jun 2008, 18:31

acmotor wrote: I run an AC induction motor with an add on encoder feedback.
www.evalbum.com/1149 if you dont know it.
I can operate with or without the encoder, both work. It is largely up to the brains in the VSD. Don't confuse the encoder with the commutaion pickup of a brushless DC motor.
The encoder helps with recovery from an overload condition (VSD does not have to do a flying start and find the motor RPM) and results in max torque being available at zero RPM. In reality the motor is never held at zero RPM and max torque anyway.



Its funny, I was talking to a controller sales guy about a week ago, arguing your position - that feedback wasn't essential for an induction motor. It got to the point that he practically wouldn't sell me the controller unless I used feedback.   He didn't think I'd be happy without it.   I think a lot of people don't really understand induction motors.

Nice Album page, very inspiring - yes I had seen it before.
You don't mention if you got Suzi registered. If so what did you do with the Danfoss?   I imagine its bulk would be a problem.

I was looking at an analogue controller which is dirt cheap $1650 new. Yes I know it doesn't have as many capabilities as a digital, and will be more of a pain to setup and reconfigure, but the price makes me stop and think. It's a B100A40 from AMC. You'll have to google it to see the specs - unless someone can tell me how to upload to the forum.

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Post by markrmarkr » Wed, 11 Jun 2008, 18:58

there is a link to the b100a40 here
http://www.a-m-c.com/content/prods/legacy.html

It as actually a DC controller (trapezoidal output) but should work ok with an ACIM - with slightly reduced efficiency.
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Post by a4x4kiwi » Wed, 11 Jun 2008, 23:40

Thanks for the advise Tuarn.

I will be running the stock speedo (electronic) from a pulse output from the VFD.

If I dont use feedback, do you reccon teh speedo will still be more or less accurate?

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Post by bidgeeeman » Tue, 24 Jun 2008, 19:02

Hi.
I have just joined.

I am a complete newbie to EV technology but am fascinated by it. As this thread is is about EV economics I would like to put forward my thoughts as someone who thinks an EV may be a viable economic decision to make in this case.

I have a family of 4 we are currently running a ICE. My wife has to drive to her work approx 30km round trip per day. We are spending $60.00 per week on fuel. Our ICE is getting old so we are considering purchasing a new vehicle in the next couple of years. We intend to spend around 10,000 on a second hand car.

I did the sums....we are spending $3,800.00 per year on fuel and ICE related costs. We are battlers, so this is a lot of money to us that could possibly help pay ot morgage. If you add that figure to the initial cost of our next new car and spread it over 3 years, (i believe that is how long the batteries in an EV will last running 80% DOD), things look quite faourable for going to an EV? Am I being unrealistic with my expectations?

BTW, I contacted an EV owner privately and he told me that I can only expect 10-20km per day range if I wanted my batteries to last. This really shot me down in flames and based on that we are fast losing interest in pursuing the whole idea. Can someone please carify this for me?

Many thanks
Bidge

Many thanks


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Post by Freetime » Tue, 24 Jun 2008, 19:26

Hi Bidge and welcome. I started the EV Economics thread as I wanted to believe it makes economic sense. I am still researching EV configurations but am now quite convinced that it can be economical provided NEED and expectations are managed. The more you spend the more range you get. I've seen nothing in my research to indicate that you would be limited to anything like 20Km in order to maintain a useful battery life of 3 years or more. A daily round trip of 30km for a two seater for example should be cost effective to build using lead acid and dc technology. Correct me if I'm wrong please somebody. Regards, Bob

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Post by Richo » Wed, 25 Jun 2008, 06:58

Most batteries are rated to how many cycles they expect over thier life.
SLA are rated around 500-1000 cycles.
So if you used it 5 times a week 52 weeks a year it would last 2-4 years.
How far you can go depends on how big the pack is.
If you want a 30km round trip then you buy the pack size to suit.
A pack "should" last longer if you drive it less.
But you design it to go the distance you want it.

Depending on what you convert and your setup the price is around the break even point at the moment. But as petrol goes up that gap will widen and the eV will be cheaper.

One thing to watch with lead acids is the weight.
If you add too big a pack the weight will be too much for the car and so you will need to remove seats to keep it road legal.
Which kind of removes the family practicality aspect of it.
but 30km is not far so you should be alright as long as you don't try to convert a mini or similar!

Just remember the money you save on petrol will be the money you use to buy you next batteries. So don't expect to save 100% of the $3800 of the petrol money.

Maybe give us more specific information and we can give more specific answers: eg Car types, regular driving speed, number of ppl usually in car (weight factor), maximum speed required.


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Post by bidgeeeman » Wed, 25 Jun 2008, 14:59

Hi Richo and many thanks for the tips. Being new to all this I need all the help I can get.
I am looking at converting a Suzuki Swift via a kit. The manufacturers have sent me through some schematics on the proceedure which has been a lot of help. The only REAL problem I can see am going to have is with the wiring, (I'm no auto electrician)or wiring the components together. The wiring diagram is not a basic step by step photo guide. Instead it's an auto electical schematic of the components which is totally useless to me, basically it's a bunch of lines. If it were made of dots I could read it:) (musician joke)

Being in Coffs Harbour I may as well be convertingan an EV on moon when it comes to personal help. I see this as the only MAJOR drawback in the whole conversion process and I really don't know how I'm going to get around it. I have scoured the net and theres is next to nothing in step by step form about connecting the electrics in an EV that I can find.

Cheers
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Post by Benonymous » Wed, 25 Jun 2008, 15:18

Bidge, I expect that your kit will be a DC conversion. That being the case, any electrician worth his salt would be able to sort it out. From the safety standpoint I'd recommend this if you don't have any experience with this type of thing. Even if the battery pack is 144V, it will still be able to deliver a lot of current and would be able to vaporise a misplaced screwdriver Image. Find a sparky and discuss the situation with him. Once you find your guy, give him a copy of the schematics before he comes over so that he can familiarise himself with the layout. This should save you some money on the labour. Good luck matey! Sounds like the perfect family car once its done Image

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Post by bidgeeeman » Wed, 25 Jun 2008, 15:26

Hi Benonymus and thanks for the tips. Yes it's a DC, 144V system with a Warp 9 motor. They tell me it'll be a pretty zippy little car when it's done. I'm looking for the donor car now.

Thanks again.
Cheers
Bidge

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Post by moemoke » Thu, 26 Jun 2008, 04:25

Hi Bidge, could you tell me where you are getting the conversion kit from? This form of conversion may be easier for a newbie like myself.

cheers

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Post by Richo » Thu, 26 Jun 2008, 04:28

Yeah that'll go good!
Don't forget to take lots of photos.
If you can't read schematics well enough to do it yourself I would also recommend the help of an auto-electrician.
Also could look a the tafes/uni's for electronic/electrical students that might be interested in helping you for free or a project.
Just keep them away from the liquor!

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Post by bidgeeeman » Thu, 26 Jun 2008, 14:16

Hi moemoke.
The kit is coming from:

http://www.canev.com/KitsComp/Component ... 20page.htm

I'm still waiting for a price on them.
Cheers
Bidge

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