This is my Frequently Asked Questions page
I answer lots of emails enquiring about EVs.
I will be entering the more common ones here for your information.
Registration. While doing the conversion I followed guidelines produced by the NSW traffic authorities. They were not so much interested in the conversion as the safety aspects of the vehicle. ie: does it still stop, lights, tyres etc. They have the right to ask for an engineers certificate proving roadworthiness. This will generally cost you at least $500 and involve tests on brakes, steering etc. They generally will pay no interest in your conversion work except for the securing of the batteries. But this is a newly emerging area and it would pay to check with your local licensing authority. Licensing actually costs more than a standard vehicle because costs are based on GVM and not pollution output!
Performance. We originally had a forklift motor in the car. These motors are designed for LOTS of power but not speed. The car would burn rubber in top gear from a standstill but not go over about 80km/h. The car now has an Advanced DC motor and has less power (you need to work through the gears) but will go over 130km/h. I haven't actually measured acceleration and I don't know what the vehicle was capable of doing before the conversion. I bought it with a dead motor. The performance characteristics are very different from a normal internal combustion engine. You have maximum torque at zero revs and the faster the motor goes the less power you have. With the fairly small battery pack I have at the moment I get a maximum of 70km range with a usable practical range of about 50km. We use the vehicle for short range delivery work and it may do well over 100km in a day, returning after short trips and recharging.
Automatic Transmissions. The short answer is that you can't use an auto. To work, these things require the motor to be running all the time and with an electric car, when the car stops, the motor stops. When the motor stops the transmission has no oil pressure and doesn't work. Having said this, you could have the motor running all the time at low revs when the car is stationary but this seems like a waste of energy. In real life you find that you only use one or two gears for all your driving. With the right diff you could do without the gearbox altogether or maybe use a two speed hi/low design.
What happens when the batteries go flat? Cynical people always ask me this. The same ones who say they have seen lots of electric cars on the road! Well the answer is the same as if a normal car runs out of fuel. It stops! There is a fuel gauge just as in a normal car so you can see what is happening with remaining energy. In fact, because of the batterys chemistry, if you wait for 10 minutes the car will go again, half a kilometre or so.
Why use a car designed for an internal combustion engine? Although it would be ideal to build an EV from scratch, it is near enough impossible to get it registered for on-road use. This because of the complicated ADR rules mostly concerning safety. Because of these problems it proves easier to start with an existing vehicle that already meets ADR requirements. The one you see on my internet site uses a Mitsubishi Colt hatch. You will find plenty of these around with burnt-out motors going at very good prices.
Where can I buy an electric vehicle? Well you cant. One or two come up for sale each year somewhere in Australia but that is less than rare. If you want one you will have to build it (convert it) yourself or get someone to do it for you. The cost will be $7000 upwards.