Date By joe Category misc Comments 0

I have been thinking about doing an electric conversion on my truck for several years.  Especially when the price of fuel started to go up.  However, I thought it would be too much work and could end up being one of those kind of projects that I start and never finish.  Plus, while I feel I have a good understanding of how the system works, I don't have any fabrication skills to do things like welding brackets, etc.  My background is in electronics and embedded software.

I have also been greatly frustrated by the poor fuel mileage of the vehicles available today.  I have thought about purchasing a new vehicle but there is nothing equivalent to my '93 Mazda B2600.  I get 19-22 mpg in the city and mid to upper-20s on the highway.  My wife has a '94 Honda Civic that gets high 30s in the city and 40+ on the highway.  When we bought her car back in about 1993, I thought that by the time it needed to be replaced, the equivalent would get 60 mpg.  Wow, was I ever wrong.  The only car we could buy to replace hers today that gets even as good mpg is a hybrid.

Anyway, when the cash-for-clunkers program came out, I decided it was time to act.  I figured if someone was willing to give me $4500 for my old truck I would take it.  I started to research vehicles to see what I wanted to buy to replace the truck (and was frustrated - see above paragraph).  Then I got around to looking up my truck on the government website and discovered it is not even eligible.  They have it rated at 19 mpg and the cutoff is 18 mpg. So much for that.

The other thing that started happening is that the expensive repairs are starting.  For many years my truck gave me no trouble and I only needed routine maintenance.  But in the last couple of years I have had to take it in for one thing or another and the repairs are getting more and more expensive.  I recently replaced the clutch, along with slave and master cylinders.  I have had some engine gasket repairs.  Now the A/C compressor needs to be replaced.  And if I do that then the A/C system needs to be updated to the new freon.  I recently learned that the radiator has cracks in it.  All the coolant hoses need to be replaced.  The shop wants to charge me ~$500 for that (not counting the radiator).  So you can see, I am starting to think about my options again.

(Before you say anything about why the hoses should cost $500, you should realize that besides the two main hoses, there are about 6 little hoses in various hard to reach places all over the engine.  I couldn't believe the estimate either when the mechanic told me.  But then he showed them to me and I believe him that it is a non-trivial job to replace these.)

I recently learned that one of my co-workers, Bruce, and some of his friends (Bill and Brian) built as a hobby an electric go-cart.  They are interested in doing a car conversion.  Between them they have tools and equipment, and just the skills needed to do this kind of work.  It looks like this could work out.  I get the benefit of their labor, skills, and equipment, and they get someone to finance the next step in their hobby - converting a car to electric.

Right now we are in the discovery phase.  Trying to see what all is needed, how much it costs, how long it will take ...

I have no illusions that this project is going to save me any money.  That is not my motivation.  While I believe that the operating costs of the electric vehicle will be significantly lower than before the conversion, I will probably spend more in money and labor performing the conversion than I will get back through lower costs.  But it will be a chance to work on a fun project, learn a lot of things, and end up with a car that I cna plug in at night.


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