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A Honda Civic With no Gas Tank (Video)

Roblimo posted about 2 years ago | from the a-car-that-will-never-get-a-rod-knock dept.

Transportation 331

It took Dr. Adam Blankespoor two years and $14,000 to convert his 1996 Honda Civic into an all-electric plug-in vehicle. He's an automotive engineer and researcher, but if he can do it, you can probably follow in his footsteps and create your own electric vehicle if you are so inclined. He talks about a 45 mile range, with 30 miles as a practical limit. That's not competitive with the Tesla S, but there's also a massive price difference to consider. This is another person Slashdot met at the Ann Arbor Maker Faire. If you want to see what kinds of electric vehicles other have made, possibly for inspiration, the Electric Vehicle Photo Album is a good place to start. And if you want information on how to build your own electric car, using "electric car conversion" as your Google search term will put you on the track of more electric car information than you can shake a Tesla Coil at.

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An all electric car?!? (5, Funny)

jrmcc (703725) | about 2 years ago | (#41527927)

SHOCKING!

Practical? (4, Insightful)

mhajicek (1582795) | about 2 years ago | (#41527957)

$14000 buys an awful lot of gas.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41527999)

and an awful lot of CO2

Re:Practical? (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#41528051)

Since over 50% of US electrical production is from coal it's not like an electrical vehicle produces zero CO2, in fact full lifecycle analysis shows a modern high efficiency non-hybrid may produce the same CO2 as a hybrid.

Re:Practical? (5, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#41528071)

They're you go, bringing facts to the argument again.

Re:Practical? (0, Troll)

Azure Flash (2440904) | about 2 years ago | (#41528383)

There you go, bringing shitty grammar to the discussion again.

Re:Practical? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528569)

There you go, bringing profanity to the discussion again.

Re:Practical? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528615)

Their you go, Being an douche.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528639)

There you go, bringing shitty grammar to the discussion again..

Re:Practical? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528779)

There you go, bringing being a dick to the discussion again...

Re:Practical? (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41528739)

"They are you go?"

But anyway, if you're living in Springfield, IL an electric car isn't environmentally friendly; the power comes from coal and natural gas. But if you're in Clinton, IL, your electric car is nuclear powered. If you live by the TVA your car is hydro powered. Fact is, if every car were electric, we'd be burning fewer fossil fuels, even though over half of the cars would be fossil-powered. Now, almost 100% of cars are fossil-powered.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528393)

Is it harder to reduce the emissions on millions of cars spread across the US, or on a few large coal plants over the same area?

Re:Practical? (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#41528489)

Considering emissions on automobiles have been reduced by 99+% (CO, NOx, HC) since the 1970's but SO2 and NOx from power plants have only been reduced by 70% and 60% over the same time period it's actually proven to be easier to do it for cars in the real world =)

Re:Practical? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 2 years ago | (#41528539)

It is easier, but for political, not technical, reasons.

Re:Practical? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 years ago | (#41528607)

CO2 emissions from cars have been reduced? Highly doubtful. Sources please? Anyway the number of actual cars has gone up significantly eating up an savings you might find.

Now, certainly cars get better mileage thus reducing the amount of gas they use, but the amount of CO2 produced by each gallon of gas used is still quite the same as before.

Re:Practical? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528755)

You're confusing CO2 emissions with carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions. Don't do that.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528513)

Indeed. And that percentage is *not* going to change. Or at least decrease. Right?

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528521)

Now compare efficiency of megawatt scale fixed speed engines to mobile variable load engines

Re:Practical? (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 2 years ago | (#41528605)

Coal is more like 44%...and falling. Natural gas may be rising to take it's place but at least it produces less CO2 than oil and if its used to create electricity in a power plant its more efficient than a gas in an ICE. Run that analysis again in a few years.

Re:Practical? (1)

rampagea1 (1571127) | about 2 years ago | (#41528621)

I don't understand why CO2 efficiency would be as important as fuel source. (Though, I doubt either of these issues are what makes this article significant.) It strikes me that to pose the argument that it's not worth converting from gasoline to electric (or some other alternative fuel source) on the basis of CO2 footprint is equivalent to arguing that the tidal wave currently sweeping towards you isn't close enough yet to warrant evacuation.

Re:Practical? (2)

t4ng* (1092951) | about 2 years ago | (#41528651)

Since over 50% of US electrical production is from coal

50%? More like 40%... [eia.gov]

Re:Practical? (1)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | about 2 years ago | (#41528655)

And because there's real-life lively competition among technologies here, with a lot of attention to R&D, all the numbers will hopefully keep going down as better models are developed. The real story here is how the entire industry is changing; the race to be the best at the moment is a fun and fascinating sideshow.

Re:Practical? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 2 years ago | (#41528719)

Here [climatecentral.org] is a map that shows what is the least CO2-polluting type of car for each state, based on the source of the state's electricity. All numbers are based on a full life cycle analysis of each vehicle.

In many states, the Prius is more environmentally friendly than the Nissan Leaf. But in all states, the Prius is more environmentally friendly than any non-electric, non-hybrid vehicle.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528743)

Since over 50% of US electrical production is from coal it's not like an electrical vehicle produces zero CO2, in fact full lifecycle analysis shows a modern high efficiency non-hybrid may produce the same CO2 as a hybrid.

Citation, please. Any decent study I've seen debukes that myth.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528017)

totally impractical. It's a wonder why this smarty-pants Doctor is making this as a practical production vehicle instead of a cool personal project. And at one car every two years this will never get off the ground.

Re:Practical? (3, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#41528107)

Lighten up AC. It's the guy's _hobby_, it's not meant to be especially practical, you know? (great fun though)

Re:Practical? (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41528301)

There's a guy locally who did about the same thing for about a fifth that. To a first approximation, something made out of used parts with 10 times the performance of a golf cart should only cost about 10 times as much as a used golf cart. His first conversion project was, literally, take the guts of a used $2000 large electric forklift and put the guts into an econobox with a blown engine. His first upgrade was to a real VFD instead of forklift control.

I suspect the guy is suffering from hobby-economics. So I built me a little carpentry project this summer using $100 of wood and a new $500 saw... Is that a $100 project? Well, no, my bank account is $600 lower, it must be more than $100. Is that a $600 project? Well, no, I only spent $600 for a project AND a slightly used saw so assuming the saw is worth more than $1 the project must be worth less than $600.

Re:Practical? (2)

GigsVT (208848) | about 2 years ago | (#41528407)

To a first approximation, something made out of used parts with 10 times the performance of a golf cart should only cost about 10 times as much as a used golf cart

The first law of engineering is "nothing scales".

Re:Practical? (2)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#41528115)

Like most environmentally friendly alternatives, it's not even close to ready for mainstream. The masses buy things when they make sense. This stuff doesn't make sense yet.

Luckily you always have people who are motivates by things other than practicality (early adopters). In this case, you have hippies ;p

The same can be said with computer technology. A lot of stuff is impractical or overpriced when it first comes out.. but there are enough people who are enthusiastic about the tech and willing to buy it knowing it's not quite there yet.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528155)

Practical? Hell yes. I'd love to drive a car at the cost of electricity rather than the cost of gas. I'd save a fortune. It is clearly very practical. A cost saving conversion? Not in the least. But then few DIY things actually save money... they just spread the cost out over time and labour, which makes it easier to deal with for some, and adds the joy of doing it yourself.

You should consider the $14000 + the cost of the original honda civic as the total cost of the finished vehicle. Then compare that cost to a similar quality gas guzzler. The real savings will be found in the difference between those two prices, not in the original cost of the conversion.

Re:Practical? (3, Insightful)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about 2 years ago | (#41528549)

You should consider the $14000 + the cost of the original honda civic as the total cost of the finished vehicle. Then compare that cost to a similar quality gas guzzler. The real savings will be found in the difference between those two prices, not in the original cost of the conversion.

When doing a cost analysis, don't forget to deduct the cost of oil changes, filter replacements, and exhaust system repairs/replacements for the life of the electric car. Discount the cost of brake jobs as well, if the car uses regenerative braking. In Ontario, Canada, (and possibly other jurisdictions as well), you can also deduct the cost of emissions testing every two years. And then there's the cost difference between fixing the things that typically go wrong with an I/C engine in the course of a decade or so, and fixing the problems that crop up with an electric motor and controller.

As usual, this is a more complex question than it first appears to be.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528579)

Why not just compare a 1996 Civic to a 1996 Civic with a $14000 electrical conversion? Seems ideal, no?

If you filled up 12 gallons of gas per week at $4.20 per gallon, it'd take nearly five and a half years to start saving money which is what the original poster is getting at. Given the 30 mile range, it's unlikely you'd even be able to go 300 (12 gallons x 25 mpg) miles per week. So 5.5 years is a very low estimate. It's likely pushing 7 or more years.

Re:Practical? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 years ago | (#41528649)

You wouldn't consider the original cost of the civic unless he did this with a brand new car. Since it was likely through most of its useful life prior to conversion. you would only use the value he could have gotten for resale at time of conversion.

Re:Practical? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#41528299)

And there is an outfit in Tampa that has a kit to convert a VW Bug, Porsche 356/912/914, and just about anything else that uses a 200mm clutch for about half that price.

Re:Practical? (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41528347)

Sure, but paying somebody else to do it for you is like using Windows instead of Linux.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528541)

i.e. suitable for the masses?

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528491)

Where I live, my Chev Malibu can burn through 20 bucks of gas per week going back and forth to work (going less than 10 miles to work and less than 10 back again, and so I'd still have some driving time after work to do more driving (groceries, shopping, etc). I assume every night I would have to recharge. Now not including the cost to recharge, I would see this breaking even after 13 years. Its borderline practical. A smaller car would use less gas, and my mid-size Chev goes through more gas. Gas is still cheaper for me.

Re:Practical? (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 2 years ago | (#41528501)

With my Prius at 45mpg and $4.10/gal, I haven't even spent that much on gas yet (and gas has been mostly cheaper as long as I've owned it). I'm at about 128,000 miles right now and $14,000 @ $4.10 would get me 153,658 miles. However, there is utility in having a hobby working on something you love, too.

Re:Practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528773)

I paid $3000 for a used Ford Aspire and drove it an additional 130,000 miles in 10 years while getting an average of 40 MPG.

Re:Practical? (1)

fleeped (1945926) | about 2 years ago | (#41528759)

You're missing the point

Transcript FTW (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41527971)

I can actually read about it here at work. More of these need to be done. Thanks, guys!

Citing error (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41527977)

Citing says 45 miles range but the dude says 50... 5 miles is kinda a big difference.

Re:Citing error (1)

GigsVT (208848) | about 2 years ago | (#41528427)

A couple small hills or stoplights can affect the range more than that.

Dealing with stall currents is tough on EV design.

Street Legal?? (-1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 2 years ago | (#41527979)

Sure, it's the same on the outside, but what about the stuff inside and possible outcomes if, say, it gets involved in a serious accident? Will the car electrocute the jaws of life operator? What if it hits an oil tanker? What if it gets involved in a collision with other homemade electric cars?

IOW, whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

Re:Street Legal?? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#41528131)

Hybrids have been out for quite some time, emergency response crews have adapted their processes to assume there is a battery pack and high voltage source in a vehicle.

Re:Street Legal?? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 years ago | (#41528713)

I think his point is the production hybrids are fine because they are built and made by large corporations with at least some incentive not to build death traps (anymore anyway).

Likewise, emergency responders will have a basic idea of how hybrid cars are put together and where the dangerous stuff is. If it's a self made car, you really can't be sure of what is where.

"I mean, why he put the batteries in the A Pillar I'll never know...and sadly neither will that Jaws of Life operator..."

Re:Street Legal?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528165)

What would happen if you ran your gas vehicle into a nuclear facility...

We can both come up with facetious arguments.

Bad argument (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41528293)

What would happen if you ran your gas vehicle into a nuclear facility...

They would scrape the remains of you and your car off the sides of the impenetrably thick concrete cooling towers.

Immovable object, meet easily squashable force.

Re:Bad argument (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 2 years ago | (#41528459)

Cooling tower walls are surprisingly thin, measured in tens of centimeters rather than meters.

Sure, you and your car aren't going to look pretty after hitting it but I reckon you are going to damage the structure.

Concrete Containment Vessels on the other hand...

Re:Street Legal?? (4, Informative)

Anaerin (905998) | about 2 years ago | (#41528211)

Oh boy, here we go.

what about the stuff inside and possible outcomes if, say, it gets involved in a serious accident?

Crumple zones and chassis structure are not touched. In a low-speed collision, nothing more happens. In a high-speed collision, there may be some leaking of electrolyte (The same way the lead-acid battery in your ICE car can leak), but there will be no dangerous inflammable liquids spilling around. Electrically, the battery pack is automatically isolated via inertia switch and circuit breakers and isolating fuses, along with contactors which separate on 12v power loss.

Will the car electrocute the jaws of life operator?

No. In an accident, the system is automatically isolated, as noted above. In addition, the power-carrying cables from front to back run along the underside of the vehicle, usually along the old exhaust tunnel, keeping them far away from anywhere emergency services may be operating.

What if it hits an oil tanker?

Oil gets spilled. Some metalwork gets crumpled.

What if it gets involved in a collision with other homemade electric cars?

Some metalwork gets crumpled.

Re:Street Legal?? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41528455)

Sure, it's the same on the outside, but what about the stuff inside and possible outcomes if, say, it gets involved in a serious accident?

It won't explode if it doesn't catch fire. The JOL won't hurt the operator unless the engineers who designed the car are dumb enough to run high voltage cables through the doors.

I can't see how an electric car can be anything but safer than a gasoline car.

Re:Street Legal?? (1)

Trecares (416205) | about 2 years ago | (#41528603)

If this was some regular Joe, you may have a point. This guy is a ENGINEER. We take safety issues and extreme scenarios seriously. However it is frequently the managers and accountants that forces compromises. This gentleman is fettered by neither.

Wow, I guess. (1, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 2 years ago | (#41527981)

But, for another grand or two, he could have bought a brand new 40+ MPG IC vehicle with a warranty, all kinds of new safety features, and a range of hundreds of miles with a "recharge" time of about 5 minutes.

I don't understand why this is a story at all. People have been building short range electric vehicles since the 70s. Unless the summary was supposed to read 450 mile range with a 300 mile practical limit, I don't see what's exciting about this.

Re:Wow, I guess. (4, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 2 years ago | (#41528129)

It is geeky and cool. If you don't get that you might be on the wrong website.
Geeky and cool does not mean useful. In fact most of the best geeky and cool things are not useful at all.

Re:Wow, I guess. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528333)

Perhaps but there are still a ton of people here who would be willing to pony up the cash for an EV if it was practical. I'll probably be looking to buy new again in 5 years or so and I'd be more than happy to buy an EV. I don't need a geek project for a primary vehicle and I simply don't have the resources to own another vehicle that isn't going to fit the bill. I'm not asking for a lot personally... 150 miles, a price on par with what I paid for my Subaru Impreza and a recharge time that isn't over 5 hours would be good enough.

Re:Wow, I guess. (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#41528481)

It is geeky and cool. If you don't get that you might be on the wrong website. Geeky and cool does not mean useful. In fact most of the best geeky and cool things are not useful at all.

I now know how to describe my penis - thanks.

Hobbies (1)

QuincyDurant (943157) | about 2 years ago | (#41528563)

The Apple I and II were designed strictly on a hobby, for-fun basis, not to be a product for a company. They were meant to bring down to the club and put on the table during the random access period and demonstrate: Look at this, it uses very few chips. It's got a video screen. You can type stuff on it.

Stephen Wozniak on the Homebrew Computer Club
http://www.atariarchives.org/deli/homebrew_and_how_the_apple.php [atariarchives.org]

Re:Wow, I guess. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528611)

It was geeky and cool 10 years ago. Now it's just not news.

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

sys_mast (452486) | about 2 years ago | (#41528675)

i think jtownatpunk was getting at the 'news' part of 'news for nerds'

If this is no different than the electric cars people have been building for years, it's not hardly news. What technical item is present in this conversion that makes it significant?

That said I agree it's cool, and I also wish the $$$ where more in favor of doing something like this. It's just not news that you can spend $10k-20k and have an EV conversion with a 30 mile range. Something like this should be on HAD, where "sure it's been done before, but this guy did it slightly differently."

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 2 years ago | (#41528687)

Most not-useful geeky and cool projects do not cost ~20% of geeks' gross annual salary. When you start getting to that level of expenditure, it's not surprising that people start to question the cost effectiveness of the project compared to off-the-shelf alternatives.

Re:Wow, I guess. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528729)

I see this sort of complaint/response quite a bit, and I think I've come up with a reason for it.

Slashdot got old.

That's right. The slashdot crowd grew up, had children, got a mortgage, stopped tinkering, and is no longer cool. It was bound to happen eventually, and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving website. Might as well go to reddit at this point.

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#41528149)

I kind of think 14,000 seems like a lot of money for conversion. I like the idea of do it yourself when you can save money but if you can buy ready made for the same price I don't see the point, unless it's just for the fun of it.

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 2 years ago | (#41528377)

$14k plus an old car you already own is far cheaper than buying a new all electric vehicle. Unless you count the time he spent designing and building it instead of browsing ad-supported internet sites. With such a reduced tracking history to work with we may never know how much content value he missed out on by pursuing his hobby ;)

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

sys_mast (452486) | about 2 years ago | (#41528695)

You're right something like this is more for the fun of it. Though $14k is fairly normal price for a DIY conversion. At least that's what I gather from reading about it, never tried a conversion myself.

Re:Wow, I guess. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528171)

My Geo Prizm gets about 40 MPG. I paid $3,000 for it.
But very few people buy great MPG cars that don't look like hover-future-sci-mobiles.
Because liberals only care about LOOKING environmental. They don't actually do environmental things which won't help their social status.
If you don't believe me, ask any economist. They'll back me up.

Re:Wow, I guess. (5, Interesting)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | about 2 years ago | (#41528197)

Same reason nerds here would hot-rod their PCs or other electronics: the hobbyist does it for passion, not practicality! What these people learn - at their own expense - can inspire and/or educate others.

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#41528249)

About 90% of drivers will drive more than 30 miles a day only on rare occasions.

In the modern US, a household with cars typically has 2 or more cars. Short range electric cars are perfectly useful for almost all of those households. They can keep a long range gas car for those purposes, and use the short range EV for daily commutes without sacrificing any utility.

Re:Wow, I guess. (2)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#41528385)

I think there is a lot here to sacrifice. No heat or AC I presume, if you want to get 30 miles on a full charge. So basically useless in the North region, and hot as hell if you live in Texas. Probably useless in mountainous regions, and I imagine there is a weight limit to this car. A person would be better of using a Golf Cart to drive their ass around town.

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 2 years ago | (#41528469)

My round trip daily drive is:
work 12 miles
dojo 4 miles
kid's school 2 miles

So yeah, 35 mile range is just fine for my daily needs, and my employer even has free charging. (we have a Tesla S and a couple homebrew VW's in the lot already).
I've seriously been considering doing this for a while...
-nbr

Re:Wow, I guess. (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41528691)

They can keep a long range gas car for those purposes

Rent it. That way when it breaks down in Middle-of-Nowhere, Oklahoma, you just don't care, its somebody else's problem.

I also rent the $20 home depot pickup truck. I'd have to rent that truck a hell of a lot of times to equal just one monthly loan payment on a compensation machine of that size...

Re:Wow, I guess. (3, Funny)

mblase (200735) | about 2 years ago | (#41528595)

I don't understand why this is a story at all.

Did you already forget what site you're on?

Re:Wow, I guess. (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41528625)

But, for another grand or two, he could have bought a brand new 40+ MPG IC vehicle with a warranty, all kinds of new safety features, and a range of hundreds of miles with a "recharge" time of about 5 minutes.

Yeah, but thats way out of his budget and wasteful. First of all if he spent $14K on his hobby car thats probably because his budget was $14K and not a penny more... so telling him there's a really nice donor car available for only $15K is kind of pointless, especially if the total cost of the conversion would be $15K for the donor plus $14K for conversion parts and tools, that's $29K for a guy with a firm $14K budget.... Also he's throwing out a brand new IC engine with warranty, kinda a waste to buy it to begin with. I don't think the aftermarket for a nearly brand new IC engine is very healthy, he's probably not going to get much money for the nearly new engine he would be throwing out.

Most of the guys I've read about who convert, get a donor car for practically free because the engine is hopelessly blown. The demand is low enough that there's a seemingly infinite supply of cosmetically great cars with dead drivetrains. You don't have to get a beater and usually don't have to pay much if anything above scrap value which usually isn't much.

His project car cost of $14K is probably a nearly free car and very nearly $14K of parts and tools. You might be operating under the mistaken assumption his budget distribution was like $13995 for the car and $5 to convert it, kind of like how ricer's take a civic and put and exhaust tip on it and its an insta-racer car, in which case your offer of a vastly superior donor chassis for $15000 makes sense because you're thinking he'd have a much better base chassis and the jump from $14000 total to $15005 total is well worth going over budget in exchange for a much better donor chassis...

Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin' (4, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41527983)

if you don't stop drivin' that hot rod Lincoln [lincvolt.com]

Not here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41527997)

I was once so inclined, but the legal issues surrounding getting a car you largely built/heavily modified legal to drive on public roads were a bigger deterant than the cost/time.

$14,000

He talks about a 45 mile range, with 30 miles as a practical limit.

This is of course why electric cars are still not practical. Pay more, get less. 30 miles might be fine for most people for most daily driving, but a cheaper gas car is fine for all people and all driving. They'll take off when you go further on a battery charge, and pay less! Right now they are mainly for hard core eco nuts (moot point where I live as we have coal power).

While I admire his efforts (1)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41528007)

If he were to fill up with petrol once a week at a cost of 40$ US he would be able to fill up for 8 years at the same cost of this conversion, not including the cost of charging. A Conversion to natural gas seems like it would be a more economical and easier conversion.

OT: where do I turn in geek badge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528023)

What's the new /. logo???????????????? Cant figure it out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HELP!!!

Re:OT: where do I turn in geek badge? (3, Funny)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41528665)

It's "Slashdot" represented in 7-bit ASCII, LSB on top and MSB on the bottom of each character.

Not enough range (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528029)

I need near-on-demand access to a vehicle that can get me 300 miles in 5 hours, including stopping to refuel. I make such trips a few times a year.

Other than that, I drive less than 30 miles a day.

I only need one vehicle.

So, either I buy a conventional car and only use it, I buy a conventional car and use it a few times a year and I use some other vehicle for every-day use, or I hope a 24-hour rent-a-car place opens up near me and that they always have affordable conventional or other long-range vehicles in stock for daily-through-weekly rental on a "walk up" basis.

Right now, the single-vehicle solution makes the most sense for me.

Re:Not enough range (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#41528285)

Once you are married, your wife or gay life partner will likely insist on a second vehicle. Since most driving will fall within the range of an EV, you can use it without sacrificing the option to take the other gas vehicle for those long trips.

Re:Not enough range (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41528415)

Once you are married, your wife...

Hey...what she wants to do with her own money...is up to her.

No free rides around this house....

Re:Not enough range (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528601)

Spouse is a good name for the person you're married to. As is you ignored all the straight women on this site (feeding the trolls to come...)

Re:Not enough range (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41528751)

Rationalization stuffed full of false dilemma in almost every line.
There's nothing wrong with saying you just don't like it, or don't like change, or you're inherently paleoconservative about how you travel or whatever. Don't need to make up strange rationalized constraints to fit a predetermined outcome. "I don't like it" is good enough.

Don't need to be an engineer or a doctor (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about 2 years ago | (#41528089)

All we need to be is inclined to make an electric car and we can "probably" do it? Then obviously there is not a need for engineers if just anyone with the inclination could probably reproduce their work.

He had me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528127)

at "warp drive"

e-Fast & Furious? (3, Funny)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | about 2 years ago | (#41528143)

If it's a '96 Civic with "mods," the de rigeur for that means a 4ft tall wing, garish paint, and a fart-cannon exhaust.

Why not just buy an EV? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41528161)

If you really want an EV (as opposed to a hobby car) that you can count on for a reliable commute, why spend $14,000 turning a $2,000 16 year old car into an EV, when you can buy a Mitsubishi i-Miev for around $22,000 [myimiev.com] (after tax rebate)? For $6000 more you get a full factory warranty, twice the range, a car that's been designed to be safe in a crash with the extra battery weight, and no hassle from your insurance company if a charging problem burns down your house. Or for a few thousand more, get a Nissan Leaf for an arguably better car?

For me, his 30 mile practical range is a little tight... my commute is 10 miles each way - a detour to run an errand or due to a traffic accident could leave me uncomfortably close to the max practical range of the vehicle. Fortunately, my 10 mile commute is still well within comfortable biking distance, so I don't typically drive at all.

Build your own way more interesting (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41528345)

I think a primary reason why you might want to do a conversion is that you then have total control over parameters of performance, and can tweak them to your hearts content.

Also you can take a car you really like to begin with and simply make it run on electric, rather than having to buy one of the few electric car designs existing (Have not seen the i-Meiv but I hated the Volt's interior and dash)

I agree with you about the range on this being just too low. I'd like to see a do it yourself hydrogen conversion, which would be similar but eliminate the battery and give you great range.

Re:Build your own way more interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528661)

And you could burn fossil fuel! Since hydrogen comes from steam reformation of natural gas.

Another big plus will be hydrogen embrittlement.

An exercise in pointlessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528185)

For US$7,000 you can buy a nice VW Golf TDi, which really will get
40mpg. Actually it will get much better than that but the point is that
this so-called engineer has modified his Honda such that it is instantly
far less capable than cars you can actually buy.

Oh, and the range on the Golf TDi ?

600+ miles per tank of fuel.

Buddy recharge batterychange network (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528187)

Of course a buddy or volunteer network of recharged battery swap points would *never* work. Nor would having recharge coils in / under parking lots, service stations, ... anywhere cars stop at for a while. And, what advantage can there be for owning your source. Stupid, right? Not to mention the absolute absence of business opportunities and burocratic expansion inherent, I mean, absent from certification, normatization, insurance, service ... yeah. Bad Idea.

Hippy Motors (1)

It's the tripnaut! (687402) | about 2 years ago | (#41528235)

There are others who do this as a business [hippymotors.com] . One of their celebrity customers is Anthony Kiedis, of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame, who had his 67 Camaro converted to run on electric power only.

Why convert when you can buy one ready made? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528433)

The only problem I see with that, is the cost of a conversion. He spent $14,000 but the donor vehicle and time has to figure into that somewhere. You can get a Nissan Leaf for probably just a hair more than his investment and it goes twice as far on a charge and is a much cooler vehicle than a Honda civic.

I actually used to do these conversions myself. But these days there is really no point unless you are going for performance. If you want an EV that can outperform a Leaf or Volt then you can build it yourself, unless you can afford a Tesla.

NYTimes reviews Tesla - (4, Informative)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 2 years ago | (#41528435)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/automobiles/autoreviews/one-big-step-for-tesla-one-giant-leap-for-evs.html?hp [nytimes.com]

Hey, just incidentally the New York Times reviewed the Tesla Model S today. There seems to be a lot of electric vehicle haterz on Slashdot lately, I don't get why, but if you're legitimately interested in the tech, rather than just Detroit astroturf, the NYTimes review is certainly worth a read.

"Put simply, the automobile has not undergone a fundamental change in design or use since Henry Ford rolled out the Model T more than a century ago. At least that’s what I thought until I spent a week with the Tesla Model S."

Huge waste of money (1)

himurabattousai (985656) | about 2 years ago | (#41528443)

The summary says that this Civic-turned-EV cost two years and fourteen thousand dollars. Then, it says that it's no comparison to a Tesla S, but to keep in mind the difference in costs. So, let us do just that. Homebrew Civic EV: 45 miles per charge. Old, possibly structurally unsound body. No warranty. Seats 4 or 5. Acceleration is probably worse than the original car's lackluster performance. Possible voiding of homeowner's insurance (should something go wrong while charging). Cost -- $14,000 plus two years' time. Tesla S (60kWh): 220 miles per charge. New car with warranty. Safer body to meet modern crash standards. Seats 5 to 7. Sub-6 seconds to 60. Cost -- $60,000. The summary is right. There is no comparison between the two cars. The Tesla is not only a better car, but it's a better use of his money and time. It is more than five times the car for four times the money. Other than the street cred one gets for driving a sub-standard homebrew EV (if that gets you any in his circles), I can't see any justification for the time and money he pissed away.

Re:Huge waste of money (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 2 years ago | (#41528745)

So you're complaining about wasting time...on slashdot?!

For that range, use a bicycle (2)

erice (13380) | about 2 years ago | (#41528449)

30 mile range is a 15 mile radius. That's barely beyond practical bicycle range. If he had picked up cycling (with or without a helmet) instead of converting his civic to electric, it would be better for the environment, he would be healthier, and it would cost a whole lot less too.

Yeah, I could do that... (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#41528451)

Yeah, I could to that or I could just buy a Prius. With the trade-in from my Honda that cash outlay might be comparable, and it would only take a few hours. :)

Of course there's plenty of room for research in this field. I wouldn't mind learning that type of engineering and having a corporation pay me for my time. There are plenty of people doing that and... designing cars like the Prius, Leaf, Volt, etc.

not good (1)

SuperDre (982372) | about 2 years ago | (#41528463)

I guess he ain't that good an engineer as other can do larger ranges on a car like that for less.. and who even wants to convert an ugly civic :p
saw a guy converting his 'old' Jeep cherokee for less with about the same range (or a tad more), so I'm not impressed with a light newer car like that..

2003 Nissan Pathfinder Conversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41528585)

I converted my 2003 Pathfinder to a "hybrid" of sorts. All it took was to fabricate a custom driveshaft assembly with a "donut" electric motor attached around it - rated at 5HP (3500W).

I built a custom solar panel that takes up the entire roof space between the roof rails, which provides just over 600W in full overhead Sun.

The four operating modes are:

Whenever the throttle position is closed, the energy from the panels is used to charge a 1680W-h battery unit (a 140Ah marine battery).

When the throttle position is open and the manifold pressure is higher than -15", the motor runs full steam from the battery at 200A (2400W) plus whatever the solar panel is doing, for a peak output of 3000W (4HP).

When the manifold pressure is lower than -15", the solar panels just dump into the motor directly at whatever they are putting out and the battery turns off at whatever state of charge it is.

Any time the battery voltage falls below lockout, the solar output is latched to charge the battery until the battery is full.

The sticker mileage was 15/18, and with my driving style I always got around 17/20. After I installed this system, I get 18/22 if it's sunny.

No, it wasn't worth it economically, as the extra 2MPG will never pay for the system, but it was a fun nerd project. It certainly didn't cost $14K though - more like $5K, but whatever. It was a fun experience.

Tampering with Federal Emission Controls (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41528723)

I thought it was illegal to tamper with Federal Emission Controls, including removing them from the vehicle. All of the articles are slashdotted, so I can't go read them.

For those of you who have read it, did he address the legal issues surrounding removing the federally-mandated emissions controls from the vehicle?

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