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themainstreetexile 07-10-2012 02:22 AM

Hi From Melbourne, Australia (looking to build EV runabout on a student budget)
My name is Tom, I'm on here because I purchased a host vehicle today for an EV conversion. I found a heap of inspiration on here for building an EV after coming up with the idea recently. I talked a lot with like-minded friends and have something of a team assembled to help with this one, and then hopefully convert their own vehicles. The first step was finding a host/donor vehicle (is there a preferred term for this?), and now to strip it of all the ICE parts and start sourcing parts.

The plan is:

Electric runabout car for less than $1000AUD (not sure if it's been done in Australia yet, I have read a lot about 'Forkenswift' and similar budget conversions). We're going with the tagline 'Electric car on a student budget' which is exactly what it is. I am primarily doing this because I want to have a car. After going without for several years, mostly for enviro reasons, I decided the best option was an electric runabout. We're aiming to use recycled parts where possible.

Host vehicle (1981 Daihatsu 'Handivan')
DC series wound motor from a forklift
Any batteries we can find without paying (much)
DIY controller

To be practical for regular use in my case, the car should be capable of travelling at 70km per hour, and have a range of 60km. I calculated this based on a round trip (and the highest speed limit on the way) to my girlfriend's house :cool:

The car ($200, plus $100 for a tow to get it to my house) will need a little panel beating and rust removal, which I believe I am capable of. Otherwise, it is a perfect host vehicle. It is small and light (570kg curb weight with ICE), and has a decent amount of space behind it for batteries. A friend has promised to mount the motor and machine an adapter plate for a case of beer, we're going to hold him to it.

At this early stage it looks like the most expensive part of the conversion will be registration ($700), a road-worthy certificate and engineer's certificate if necessary. These costs mean the project has already exceeded the budget, but we'll see what we can do to get around them.

I am setting up a blog to document the conversion, I'll put details on here ASAP.

MetroMPG 07-10-2012 08:10 AM

Ambitious project!

"Host vehicle" works.

A 60 km range is going to be another challenge - unless of course you have a source for "cheap" lithium! The ForkenSwift gets 20-30 km on ~520 lbs of used golf cart batteries (~10kWh worth). Might get 50-60 on brand new ones. And that exceeds our far more modest design target of 12 km minimum (distance from my buddy's place to his work). No girlfriends in the next town! :D

themainstreetexile 07-10-2012 11:28 AM

Well we have been planning on trying to get organisations to donate in exchange for sponsorship of the vehicle. If we get good publicity for the car once it's complete a battery distributor might get some business from us recommending them or mentioning them on our blog.

Just an idea...

In any case, happy to aim higher and settle for less. Have you heard of any similar budget conversions in Australia?


themainstreetexile 07-10-2012 11:29 AM

Also, is the range the only ambitious aspect of the project in your eyes?


Edit: Aaand, what was the curb weight of the forkenswift before conversion?

MetroMPG 07-10-2012 12:10 PM

The car went from ~1750 lbs stock to ~2070 post-conversion, roughly.

Yeah, I would say the batteries are going to be the biggest challenge. Cheap, decent motors & other componentns are available to the patient & resourceful, and a DIY controller keeps costs down in that department.

Eventually it will be possible to find used lithium, since more and more people are putting them in conversions now. But we'll likely never upgrade the ForkenSwift, since 20-30 km on used lead is gravy. For use in a small city, it's already literally more range than is needed.

MetroMPG 07-10-2012 12:12 PM

(PS - hope you don't mind I moved the thread to the Fossil Fuel Free section - probably get more feedback there.)

themainstreetexile 08-15-2012 02:18 AM

Thanks for the info, and yes this section makes more sense. I've revised the performance target to 'whatever we can get' in light of your information!

I have found an electric motor, picking it up this week.

I'm told it's a Nissan 48V 3.9kw 96A (does this mean amps? I'm not so good with these numbers yet...)

Does this sound suitable? It's from an old elctric forklift, already removed and I've been quoted $100... Sweet.

MetroMPG 08-15-2012 10:39 AM

Any idea how much it weighs/dimensions? That's often a good indicator of how suitable it is too.

themainstreetexile 08-16-2012 05:57 AM

Not sure as yet, have to go see it, they seem bemused that I want to buy it at all so not bothering them with too many questions.

Regarding size, is it just whether it will fit in the engine bay or not? If it fits in the tiny engine bay then I think weight won't be too much of an issue.

MetroMPG 08-16-2012 01:20 PM

As a really loosey-goosey rule of thumb, a bigger & heavier motor might be able to take more abuse and may be less prone to heating up than a smaller/lighter one of the same type & power rating.

The motor in the ForkenSwift was rated for 36/48v (no power specs though) and weighs ~110 lbs. A motor expert told us it would easily handle 120 volts.

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