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bennelson 10-29-2008 12:26 AM

AC Dodge Neon Electric Conversion Videos
Hey Folks,

I was over helping Tom G. tonight with his conversion of a Dodge Neon to electric using a HUGE AC motor.

We started taping video showing HOW TO DO AN ELECTRIC CAR CONVERSION.

The plan is to make some REAL Videos showing how to convert a car to electric.

The master plan is to make a complete series of videos showing EVerything needed to do a conversion. This will cover the entire Neon conversion, and later include interviews and footage from other conversion projects as well.

The first goal is to just get the information out there so that other people can learn from it to do their own conversions.

The second goal of the videos is to make a little bit of money for me, so I can afford to put more time into doing things like making electric car conversion videos.

My first thought on that was just to put them all on a web page and run lots of Google Ads next to them. Any thoughts on that or a better way to do it?

Anyways, the first video won't be out until next week some time when I can actually edit it.

I can say that in the very first episode sparks fly, equipment is moved with forklifts, and something very important breaks! :eek::thumbup:

-Ben N.

bennelson 12-10-2008 07:43 PM

Sorry I haven't been able to do too many updates about this project lately!

It's not my project, and Tom has this habit of working on it while I am not around!

I have a backlog of videos I need to edit about it, but in the mean time, doesn't the car look nice without a gasoline engine in it!

bennelson 01-04-2009 10:17 PM

Here's some videos!!!

bennelson 01-04-2009 10:19 PM

Quick and dirty bench tests of the motor and transmission.

bennelson 01-04-2009 10:28 PM

Tom, Rich, Brian, and I today worked on battery boxes for the Neon.

Tom had spent time this week bending the metal and welding up boxes. He was kind enough to keep one box unfinished, so I could video tape him showing how he built them.

There are about six individual boxes, which will hold 3 to 5 batteries each.

We laid out the boxes in the back of the car, and designed supports to attach the boxes to the car frame.

This was one of those things that really made it feel like there was BIG TIME progress being made on the project.

Tom already has the motor and transmission back in the car now. Once the batteries get in, installing the controller will be real straight forward, because everything has been pre-wired and bench-tested.

Expect more videos on this project here in the future.

See more photos of todays work on my photo album page:

metroschultz 01-05-2009 09:12 AM

How many batteries is he using?
It looks like around 23.
Is that correct?
Would this be an A/C motor he's using?
And are you using 12v or 8v or 6v batteries?
23 x 12 = 276 volts total.
He's gonna blow your doors off.

bennelson 01-05-2009 10:07 AM

He's going to be using somewhere around 26-28 12V AGM batteries to run an AC motor. (A couple will still fit under the hood too)

Mine uses 6 12V gel cells.

Yes, he's going to blow my doors off, but I DIDN'T THINK THIS WAS A COMPETITION!

If it is, then I win the "First to the Road" and "It's Cheap" awards.

MetroMPG 01-05-2009 10:09 AM

Wow, pretty blue motor mount. :P

Intrigued 01-05-2009 10:31 PM

Be sure to explain how the controller works for AC, and how you're changing DC to AC, maybe in a future video. If this neon ends up like Wayland's Datsun, Oregon Field Guide — Electric Drag Racing Oregon Public Broadcasting that'll be so neat! :thumbup:

Oh, and maybe try to talk MPaul into designing a cheap AC controller! :D

bennelson 01-05-2009 10:57 PM

I will try to have that covered in a future video. I am kinda backlogged right now.

We are also planning on doing an "EV Mailbag" and debunk common EV myths (why can't I just hook a generator to the motor to power the motor?)

I'll make sure we get some discussion going on the AC stuff. In general though, all of the AC to DC is all built in and taken care of internally in the AC drive. This is a big magic box that is commonly used for all sorts of AC motors in factories and other industrial settings.

Christ 01-06-2009 01:16 AM

Where might a lowly persona resembling a "me" get hold of one of these "magic box" dealies? Maybe some specs on the motor too? In written form... I'd hate to carry my laptop to the e-motor dealer so he could listen to the video explaining what motor and how many windings it needs, etc.

Intrigued 01-06-2009 10:45 AM

I may have been misunderstood... :confused:

That looks like a 3-phase electric motor. What I want to know is where the DC from all of those batteries is changed into AC for the motor. Is there an inverter within the controller, or is that a separate box? If so, there would be more expense to the system. Also, does an AC controller vary the voltage, or the pulse width like a DC controller, or cycles per second???

Where can I go to learn more about all this???

If a simple inverter could be designed, and someone like MPaul come up with a controller that wasn't too expensive, then I'm thinking that instead of going with a small car to convert, I might do an S-10 and have the batteries to get the voltage up to where it would be able to run at highway speeds - whether I use AC or DC. By looking at Wayland's Datsun stuff, either way can be great fun! :cool:

bennelson 01-06-2009 01:12 PM

Yep, it's an AC motor, and I believe it's a three-phase, although I have to double-check that. It does have 4 power cables going to it, so I think that means it's three-phase.

I believe DC to AC inversion is done internal to the AC drive. I'll have to check with Tom on that one.

Looks like there's lots of interest in AC electric conversions here!

bennelson 01-07-2009 04:19 PM

Battery Box Video
Here's everything you want to know about building battery boxes.

That's right! Actual boxes! From now on, we will reserve the bed frames for cheap-o Metro conversions! :p

PS: YouTube now supports HD on some videos. If you are in the States, and have a fast internet connection - click the video here to go to YouTube, and then hit the WATCH IN HD link in the lower right corner.

bennelson 01-12-2009 03:10 PM

Here's the latest update from Tom about his car:

"January 4th meeting:

We spent the day working on battery trays. Ben brought his video equipment and shot another "how to" video on making battery trays.
The rest of the crew worked on building the trays and installing them in the car. Its coming together nicely, it looks like there will be room for 23 batteries in the back of the car and another 4 under the hood."

27 batts times 12V! That's 324 volts people!!!! :thumbup:

MPaulHolmes 01-12-2009 07:41 PM

I can't believe I've missed this thread! This is awesome. Holy cow! Very professional videos, too. 324v. That's amazing. I bet a budget AC conversion could use small older 12v batteries because the current draw would be so low. You would get great range. This is really exciting. Keep up the great filming, Ben! Did I miss where he got his motor? Is it a budget industrial AC motor, or something designed for AC electric cars?

For that voltage, you would want to go with IGBTs instead of mosfets in the controller. You know, there are lots of 1200v 600amp surplus IGBTs sold on Ebay all the time. I bought 4 last year for $50 on Ebay, but got greedy and sold them one at a time for like $30 each. They are harder to parallel than mosfets, because of thermal runaway, but maybe if they were kept cool. Oh, man, this would be fun!

I can't wait to see how it drives, and what sort of range he gets, and Amp*hr/mi, etc..., etc..., etc...!!! Yahoo!

Intrigued 01-12-2009 07:58 PM


Originally Posted by bennelson (Post 82846)
Here's the latest update from Tom about his car:

"January 4th meeting: ... it looks like there will be room for 23 batteries in the back of the car and another 4 under the hood."

27 batts times 12V! That's 324 volts people!!!! :thumbup:

Wow! Is he going to have to adapt his suspension to handle the weight of the batteries???

bennelson 01-12-2009 09:42 PM

The motor for this project is a standard, industrial, 3-phase, motor. Tom is pretty good at locating good deals on salvage and industrial items. The AC Drive (controller) that matches the motor has some neat features built in to it, including making regenerative braking very simple.

Part of why this particular Dodge Neon was chosen is that it was the "sport" model. It already came with extra beefy brakes and suspension!

Christ 01-20-2009 12:24 PM

Do you still have more videos being edited for this, or are we caught up at this point? I saw the battery box/tray video on YouTube already.

bennelson 01-20-2009 12:31 PM

I still have some footage of the ICE removal.

That happened one time while I wasn't there, so it was shot with somebody else's digital still camera.

The quality wont be as good on that, but there is lots of good information.

You will also notice that video 006 is missing from the order of videos - that's because I want them to be chronological, but I still need to do the ICE removal video.

Christ 01-20-2009 12:35 PM

Fair enough, I'll just sit over there in the corner waiting patiently. I know you have lots of things going on right now...

Could someone point out the coffee stand? It seems like I might be here awhile. LOL.

Seriously, I know what it's like to have 5 projects going at once and people wanting to see results on all of them at the same time. Take your time, make it as good as you can, and we'll all appreciate it for what it is: great homegrown footage!

Daox 01-20-2009 12:38 PM

This weekend we were working on mounting the battery trays in the car. Dunno exactly what Tom has planned next for it, but installing the controller can't be far off.

bennelson 02-02-2009 11:47 AM

Yep, more work yesterday on the battery boxes.

I was helping both on Swee's trike, and on Tom's car, having fun hanging out with Doax too!

I know that Tom got a couple other things done on the Neon, but I was mostly helping running conduit under the car.

Two weeks ago, we drilled a hole into the spare tire wheel well in the car. Now, there is flexible conduit (hot-tub piping!) running from the engine compartment, back directly into the spare tire well. It runs in the channel where the exhaust system (now gone!) originally did.

Tom noticed that the exhaust heat shield was attached pretty simply with some threaded bolt holes that went directly up into the frame of the car.

He located some hanger clamps that were the right size for the hot tub tubing.

Those were simply run up into the frame of the car, the tube goes into them, and then we locked the clamps with 1/4 inch bolts with nylock nuts.

The very front end of the conduit (just past the firewall in the engine compartment) didn't have an existing bolt hole to hang a clamp from.

Good thing we have a small guy we can cram in the engine compartment, even with the motor already in there.

We drilled an extra bolt hole straight through the car, coming out as far as I could reach behind the console/radio/dashboard. Just enough room there to get a nut and fender washer on it.

Once the end clamp was set, it was cake to bolt up the other ones, although the other far end did require a custom hole as well.

In the mean time, Tom was also working on a support for the back. Since the rear tow trays go OVER the spare tire well, he though it a good idea to have a middle support for those trays.

Tom cut two pieces of unistrut and notched out a short section of pipe for them to mount together. There is a side-to-side support under the spare wheel well already, so he had the bottom unistrut transverse, but the top unistrut longitudinal to take advantage of it.

The battery boxes have been a lot of work, but are going to be VERY nice when all done. We are hoping that Tom will get some time to clean them up and paint them in the next two weeks, so we can get them in to their final installation, and continue on to installing the controller....

esoneson 02-02-2009 01:50 PM

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this build. It is very interesting to me and a lot of other EV enthusiasts. I have been waiting for more information on the components for a long time. And I am getting real itchy.

I am one of the few folks that believe that AC is the way to go with an EV. There are a lot of others who feel the same way. But there are a few things that are stopping most of us. Highest hurtle to get over is the cost.

To get real AC power (like from AC Propulsion) will cost $25,000 for motor, controller. This will get you 200HP.

Seimens no longer makes motors/controllers for EVs.

Azure Dynamics has the AC55 motor along with controller. This motor gives you 105HP (78KW) peak and 46HP (34KW) continuous when using 312 Volts. This combination costs $7000.

The second hurtle is weight. The AC55 is 234 pounds.

I think that given enough horsepower, the weight can be overcome. But still, weight is the EV'ers enemy.

You have hinted that Tom's motor and controller has some neat 'configurable'
capabilities and can be gotten for a lot less that $7000. It would REALLY be great if you can get more information on 'how much' and 'what kind' and 'where can I get one'.

Help me stamp out my itchin' and all those other AC guys out there and post some real information to help solve the dilemma of the scarcity of affordable AC EV propulsion units.

Thanks again for all your expert video contributions.:thumbup:

I want my AC!:eek:


bennelson 02-02-2009 02:03 PM

Tom's motor and controller (AC Drive) are industrial standard equipment. It's the sort of thing designed to run a big electric motor in a factory.

Buying anything that is designed for a very specific purpose, with a very small target market, is always VERY expensive - such as EV AC setups.

I don't remember what Tom said the value of the motor and drive were, but they were relatively inexpensive. The trick is to know how to modify them to make them work for this application.

I think that the controller (AC drive) will be one of the next things installed when we are all done with the battery boxes.

When we do that, it should be a good time for another video with Tom explaining how it's all going to work. At that time, I will try to get some budget numbers and motor/controller specs as well.

brihoo2k 02-06-2009 05:38 PM

Im familiar with the motor it looks like a baldor three phase normal industrial motor. What im interested in is what brand of ac drive is he going to use to get the 3 phase power for the motor

Drive Stick 04-01-2009 05:14 PM

Well, this is making me wanna use my neon for an EV instead of dual drive subaru or neon. Haha

Keep up the great work

Christ 04-01-2009 08:20 PM


bennelson 04-01-2009 11:36 PM

There's another EV build day this coming Sunday.

I will snap more photos of whatever happens then.

The battery boxes took a LONG time and have been a lot of work on this project. Also, Tom has been real busy with his business, so he hasn't had as much time to work on the car outside of the EV build days.

Last I checked, CONTROLLER installation would come after all the battery box work!

wenowhavepower 04-02-2009 02:13 AM

Ac Drive
Hello bennelson,

Can you provide more information on the AC drive?
or if Tom can?

Thank you.

freeenergy2009 05-15-2009 01:13 AM

98 dodge neon
Hi Guys, I have purchased my Neon and have started to remove my shot motor and would appreciate any tips or tricks to help with my conversion. I have downloaded the video's as far as they go and I really really appreciate your generosity showing the really hard parts like aligning the motor and tranny and some of the pitfalls of using that type coupler. I will keep in touch if you would like and I intend to get busy this September when the weather cools off. thanks Bill :thumbup: ;)

Grant_NZ 05-23-2009 05:48 AM

Hi guys,

Really enjoying the You Tube videos, lots of good information and very well presented, any news on the next installment? :D


bennelson 05-23-2009 08:41 AM


Originally Posted by Grant_NZ (Post 105890)
any news on the next installment? :D

Just been busy lately, we'll do another one soon.


RandomFact314 05-23-2009 05:28 PM

This is awesome, is it going to stay that loud though? I wish I could do this with my neon.

bennelson 08-12-2009 01:47 PM

Video #6
Hey Guys,

Here is video number 6.
If you have been following on the YouTube Playlist, you would notice that #6 was skipped. That's because it covered some work Tom did one time when I couldn't make it out. A friend of his shot it with the video mode on his point-n-shoot digital still camera, and then gave me the files.

I was cleaning my desk today, finally found the disc again, edited together into something roughly making sense, and uploaded it to YouTube.

This video covers removing the engine and has a nice shot at the end of everything that got removed in the "De-ICEing".

PS: This link:
should take you to my playlists on YouTube. That way, you can directly go to videos specific to just the Neon project, just the Electro-Metro, etc.

bennelson 08-12-2009 07:17 PM

revoltev 08-26-2009 01:06 AM

Let me know when you're ready to sell a kit
I've got a 95 dodge neon with a fresh paint job and a blown engine that I'd like to convert. I've been looking for a kit but haven't found one yet. Do you have any plans to sell a conversion kit?

bennelson 08-26-2009 10:41 AM

Sorry, no plan for a kit.

This is a completely custom project.
I hope it gives you some good ideas though!

bennelson 09-07-2009 11:57 PM

I just got an understated e-mail from Tom that he could finally sweep that one spot in his garage that he hasn't been able to get to for the last year - because it was covered by that car!

He did the first test of the car moving under its own power - not into the road yet - no headlights!

Sounds like we might be doing an electric car ride-along video or something similar next time I am over there.

MPaulHolmes 09-08-2009 12:01 AM

I can't wait to hear how it drove!!

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