What is your primary occupation? Electrician
What got you interested in electric cars Bill? Well I have always been fascinated with alternative energy sources, and thought I would try to build one for commuting without spending 15-20 thousand dollars.
Is this your first EV? Yes, it was my first, and it was exciting to watch it come together from beginning to end.
How has choosing the Dodge Neon as a donor helped the conversion? Well with the right plan any car can be converted to electric, so for me it was cost efficient.
What do you think the most critical part of the conversion process was? Getting the adaptor plate right
Can you tell us where you sourced some of the parts like controller and batteries?
My batteries are Sam’s club deep cycle batteries, I have had several different controllers for the car, but my first one a Curtis 1205 48v and 400 amps, I got from EBay, then I got the second one from cloud electric. It was an Alltrax 7245 was programmable but the best one I got from Logisystems, it is a 72volt 700 amp and it has very good power.
How did you handle weight distribution? I tried to stagger the batteries throughout the car, I have 4 in the front, 4 under the back seat, and twelve in the trunk, but for the trunk I had to add air shocks from autozone to handle the weight.
Is there a kit adapter plate for the Neon, or did you machine it yourself ? I don’t know of a kit, I built the adaptor plate myself using a ¼ inch steel plate.
Could you describe the motor you’re using and where you sourced it ? The motor is a Bendix aircraft starter/ generator, I got it here locally,from an independent dealer and love it.
What kind of braking system did you use? The car uses stock brakes, without the factory vacuum, in a larger vehicle you would need a vacuum pump but the neon is small enough that I don’t notice a difference in braking .
In Phoenix a key concern is Air Conditioning, you’ve used a couple of different systems, could you describe them?
I tried to use an evaporative cooling system, but when the temperature got above 100 degrees it could not keep up, so I had to come up with another option. Most EVers use the stock compressor and a second motor to turn the compressor, but that takes away from the cars range, and requires a mounting plate as well as belts and I did not want that. I just finished converting a 5000btu window unit to run in the car and I power it from my accessory batteries, so there is no range loss, and it utilizes the stock air conditioning controls in the dash.
Does the car have a steering assist? Not yet but I plan to add electric power steering in the future but for now it steers well manually.
You also charge using a solar array, can you tell us a little about how much power you’re generating to charge the car?
My micro solar energy system generates 5000 watts of AC current, it runs all of the 110 circuits in my home and charges my car for 8 hours at night.
What is your typical range currently? Depending on terrain, traffic conditions, speed ect. about 35-40 miles.
15 miles at 60mph and 35 at 45mph
Which EV enthusiast sites do you visit ? I am a member of the DIY electric car forum, and go to EV album, and EV trading post
Which are some of your favorite conversions or available new EVs? Obviously, the Tesla roadster, because it is a great looking car and has good speed, power and range, but that is not an option for the average person looking to convert to electric.
What do your friends think of the car? Everyone that sees it loves it. When I drive I get lots of strange looks, and have had people ask many questions about it, and are usually fascinated by the sound it makes, they say it sounds like a jet engine, or even a space ship.
What has your conversion experience taught you overall? Since converting to electric was easier than fixing an ICE vehicle, as a country if we really wanted to we could greatly reduce our dependence on oil a long time ago by making reliable electric vehicles like GM’s EV1.
What was your conversion cost including donor? When registered the total out of pocket cost was $ 2800, to date I have spent a total of $3500 for upgrades.
Do you have a favorite story about building or driving your EV? Yes, I was driving to work one morning about a month after compleating the car and stopped to get coffee when I was approached by a couple that heard me drive up, they thought it was the most peculiar thing that they had ever seen, and said it reminded them of a plane taking off.
Are there a few people you’d like to thank? My wife for her support and patience during the build, and Some members of DIY electric car forum, for some great advice when it was needed.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention? Yes, converting an internal combustion engine vehicle to all electric is easy and affordable, and can be built with parts found locally, so there is no need to wait any longer
Are there any EVs out there who you’d like to see on EV Gearbox? Im interested in seeing as many EVs built with new ideas, because as an Ever, we continue to learn new and innovative ways to bring electric vehicles to the main stream.
Thanks for the interview Bill, you and your EV are an inspiration.
You can read Bill’s blog here.