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Wanted: An Electric Runabout

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by tonybelding, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Hey guys. . . Remember me? It's been A While.

    I have been quietly (for the most part) watching from afar as things develop at Tesla, Nissan, GM, Fisker, Aptera and other places. I've also been enjoying my '99 Miata for over a year now, and it's given me some things to think about.

    First up, I adore the Miata. Keep in mind, that's coming from somebody who previously had a Lotus Esprit V8. So, I've done the supercar thing, and I don't miss it -- not much, anyhow. Sometimes I miss the brute power, but that's about all. (I could bolt a supercharger on the Miata if I really cared, but haven't ever gotten around to it. It's never been a priority.)

    I still look at the Tesla Roadster and I think "dream car", but I also look at the price tag, and I think back to my various experiences with the Esprit and the Miata, and I find myself thinking. . . What would really be cool is an electric Miata.

    I don't need a supercar. I've got that out of my system. I don't need carbon fiber or mind-blowing acceleration. I also don't need a 200+ mile range. A solid, dependable 30-mile range (of normal driving, not hypermiling) would be acceptable for my purposes, and 40 miles would be great. So, that calls for a lot fewer batteries.

    The Miata is easy to get in and out of. The top is quick and easy to take down or put up. The rear visibility (particularly with the top down!) is excellent. It has enough ground clearance to handle our much-neglected city streets here. It hasn't had any parts falling off either -- all significant advantages over the Lotus in normal, everyday driving.

    I'm aware that there is one company advertising EV conversion kits for the Miata: http://www.evmiata.com/

    I've been intrigued, but their website is half-baked (try the gallery!) and they don't even seem to have fully tested the LiFePo option yet. I read through their FAQ and was a put off by some of the under-developed aspects (like HVAC). Also, the kit is only for 1st gen (NA) Miatas, not 2nd gen (NB) models like mine. So I would have to source another car. After doing some figuring, I saw that doing one of these the way I want it could run the cost up a bit, and it's all a gamble how it would come out in the end.
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Whoa! Welcome back!
     
  3. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    #3 vfx, Jul 5, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
    Yee haw.

    Welcome back Tony!


    I was going to do a conversion. The Tesla was only 20K more with crash testing, a 4 year warranty, and the Lotus driving touch. Easy call and easy on the knuckles.

    The Road$ter has gone up a bunch since then though.
     
  4. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    By the way, Tony, I hope you didn't get any fracing fluid in your well!
     
  5. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    Hi Tony,

    What you want from a car sounds an awful lot like what I was looking for a couple of years ago. I really liked the Tesla, but didn't need the performance, and wanted to spend a lot less. The only difference is that I was hoping for more range--maybe 70 miles.

    I talked to some local (for me--Seattle area) conversion shops (it sounds like you're planning on doing it yourself, but I'm not that handy), and picked the one that sounded best--www.pacificev.com. They were willing to do a Miata, but pointed out that it can't carry much weight, so I wasn't likely to get the range I wanted. You could probably get what you want.

    So I switched to a Mini convertible. That carries more weight, so I could get 70 miles. The cost (for them to do all the work, including HVAC, etc) was $25k. I would have done it, except just before they handed me the final quote, I won an ebay auction for a RAV4-EV.

    Every now and then while driving the RAV4 I pined for the Mini, but all worked out. My wife fell in love with the RAV4 and it's now her car. We decided to buy a second car for me; I initially thought about the Mini again, but with your second EV range becomes a much more of an issue than it is for the first. So I went ahead with the Tesla...and I'm sure glad I did!
     
  6. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    There is always the Honda S2000 route. I thought I remember seeing one for sale too.
     
  7. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Hi Tony. Great to hear from you again.
     
  8. domenick

    domenick Nerd

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    If you like old Porsche Speedsters, EVTV has done a couple builds. One with a DC motor and one AC, both using ThunderSky or similar cells. I think they estimate cost to be in the $50,000 range and lots of work. Performance is decent and they have videos detailing most of the builds. His approach to a couple issues, particularly battery management systems, is a little controversial.

    They are working with the car supplier to make a EV-build-ready roller.
     
  9. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Thanks for all the links and ideas, guys! You've given me a lot to investigate. The place in Austin doing conversions looks particularly interesting, as that's semi-close to me.
     
  10. DDB

    DDB Member

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    Tony, I know you pop in now and again on the forums--glad to see it. But considering a conversion? Say it ain't so. With all of the disaster stories of conversions, my bet is you'd be happier with a leaf and a gasser (even a Sky...whatever). My point is, you and me will one day own an EV, but don't throw it all out the window with a cheap conversion. Cheap EV (ie Leaf maybe), but not a lot of money thrown at a dream idea. Just my 2 cents.

    Dave
     
  11. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    All the disaster stories? Care to elaborate on that?
     
  12. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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  13. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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  14. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    You should check in at the EVDL and DIYelectriccar forums. There have been a few Miata conversions and there should be someone who knows a reputable shop in your area. Truth is doing a decent conversion isn't that hard if you know the right components to choose and where to get them. I've gotten 50 miles out of the 12KWH SE/CALB LiFePO4 pack in my Fiero.
     
  15. DaveD

    DaveD EVs Kick Gas!

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    Company's kit will electrify a Miata

     
  16. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    That's pretty much the same as my setup, Curtis AC 1238 controller, probably a HPEVS AC50 motor as opposed to my AC31, Manzanita chager, SE/CALB LiFePO4 cells, maybe 130ah's instead of 100ah's for the extra range. Looks like a good kit at a good price.
    1566_full.jpg
     

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