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Old 04-26-2014, 08:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
elhigh
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: SE USA - East Tennessee
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Josie - '87 Toyota Pickup
90 day: 28 mpg (US)

Felicia - '09 Toyota Prius Base
90 day: 48.42 mpg (US)
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"Frame" if you want to make things easy on yourself. Head over to a junkyard, find a pickup whose engine has pooped out and build your EV on that.

Lots of good reasons for this:

1) Heavier duty suspension than a regular passenger car. You can add more batteries to get more useful range without having to go the expensive route of Lithium-ion. Admittedly the price on those is coming down but it's still right up there. Yipes.

2) Rear-drive configuration is very, very roomy for placing driveline bits once you get the old engine out. You can route through the existing transmission if you so choose, it keeps amp draw low if you shift down for pulling away from stops.

3) You could get really weird and attach the motor directly to the axle and dump a lot of weight. You might want to switch to a lower (higher numerically) drive ratio to keep the torque loads on the motor down, but no problemo because

4) Trucks - foreign and domestic both - enjoy big aftermarket support for people who like to mod. People in the South just can't live without doing stuff to their trucks. Thank goodness for that.

5) Older compact pickups are actually pretty light compared to modern rides. My truck weighs about 2800 pounds.

6) A truck with its bed half full of batteries is still useful - remember, that's HALF full. Granted, they're heavy. Can't have everything.

7) Those body parts come right off. Want to build a stealthy under-bed battery box? On my truck six nuts gets it loose, crack out the welding torch and you're on your way. Don't forget to unhook the taillight wires too, though. You can take the cab off, the fenders...all of it. You can take a truck down to a bare frame with just hand tools. Can't do THAT to a Civic. Remove everything removable and a lot of volume is still closed in.

Downsides:

A bed half full of batteries. So much for making this your bug-out rig.

It'll never be a featherweight. Weight kills range in EVs and kills it harder with trucks due to the higher starting weight. The one saving grace there is the chassis is up to the challenge (usually).

If none of this appeals then the word you're looking for is "chassis." Same goal, different system. You can start small and keep things small, but I think the job is more of a challenge.

The biggest advantage in my opinion, of a car-based EV, is being able to carry more than two people when it's all finished. If that's never an issue for you, well, consider the truck.

Don't forget I'm mostly talking through my hat. I haven't built any EVs at all, this is just me thinking about stuff and paraphrasing "How to Build an Electric Vehicle" by Bob Brant. There are several guys on this forum who HAVE, however, and can doubtlessly provide much useful wisdom on the topic - but read their build threads first. It's cool stuff.
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