Electric Car Tires

 

Unfortunately, at some point you will need to change the rubber on your EV just like every other car. It’s irritating and expensive, but it’s a good time to look at your electric car tires and whether or not they’re the best choice for your needs. For any vehicle that is intended to be ultra-efficient whether it be hybrid, electric or a hypermiling project, it’s a good idea to consider low rolling resistance tires.

 

What Is Rolling Resistance?

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Rolling resistance is basically a measurement of how easily a given tire will roll down the road. If you had 2 identical cars, one with LRR tires and one without, drove them both to 50kph and then let them roll to a stop, the car with the low rolling resistance tires would roll farther down the road than the one without. Low rolling resistance tires are built using special materials and tread design to achieve higher efficiency. They do this by reducing the energy wasted as heat, as well as in the sidewall. Using these tires on your car can result in a fuel savings of up to 6%, a significant amount over time.

Upgrading To LRR

Is it worth upgrading to these tires for your electric car? The answer from any die-hard EV enthusiast would be an emphatic YES! But in reality, it’s like any other automotive upgrade, it depends what your priorities are. If you own an electric or hybrid car, it’s a safe bet that you want to get the very best mpg possible, and upgrading your tires is a good way to see quick results. If your commute is well within your electric car’s range and comfort is a priority for you, you might want to stick with standard tires.

 

Posted in Electric Vehicle Articles, Electric Vehicle How-To Guides

Cheap EV Air Conditioning

I’ve written before about how to heat your electric car conversion. I installed a ceramic heater in my EV and just don’t get enough out of it to make it worth the hassle and cost. I get far more comfort from my $30 heated seat cover than I do from my heating system. Take it from me it’s always worth trying the less expensive option before spending hundreds on something that may disappoint.

This blog exists to teach you not just how to build an electric car, but how to save money on your electric car conversion. There are tons of little things that you can do to make your EV both comfortable, and keep the costs reasonable. Today we’re looking at air conditioning. It is entirely possible to install air conditioning into your electric car conversion project. There are basically 4 ways to make this happen:

1. Build a mount to run your stock A/C compressor off the tail shaft of your drive motor.

2. Build a system that runs your A/C compressor off a smaller, independent electric motor.

3. Buy an electric A/C compressor. At nearly $1000 just for the compressor, be prepared to take a side job to pay for this.

4. Build something awesome for under $20. Use your mind instead of your money.

If you’re like me, you are interested in #4. Check out the video below to learn how to build a cheap air conditioner for your electric vehicle for only a few bucks. This isn’t my idea and it’s not me in the video. I don’t even think it’s intended to be for EVs but we don’t mind borrowing good ideas. Let me know if you’ve tried this and how well it works for you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Out Of Juice! My First Experience With Dead EV Batteries

It was bound to happen. When I built my electric car I just drove it. I have no gauges, no instruments other than a standard multi meter to give me some indication of how much charge I have. I’ve blissfully driven to work and back for months (round trip of about 33km) without issue…and then it got cold.

I got my batteries used for $10 each so as far as I’m concerned, I got my money’s worth out of them after the first couple test drives. That said, I’m sure pleased to have driven around on them for 4 months. I know that lead acid batteries are less efficient in the cold weather, and it’s been down to around 0 degrees celsius here for a few weeks. I roughly calculated that I should be able to drive 25-35km in the summer and still be at around 50% charge. In the winter, things are different though.

Last week, I drove to work, charged, and decided to check out a pickup truck for sale on my way home. It was only about 10k out of my way. I checked out the truck and started to drive home. At the 26k mark, I started to feel that something was wrong. I wasn’t getting the punch I should when applying throttle. 2 kilometers later, it was dead…completely flat dead.

I like my electric car, but let me be honest that it’s a massive pain in the butt to run out of power. If you’re out of gasoline, just go find a jerry can, problem solved. Running out of power is a whole different story. Unless you have the good fortune of getting stranded right in front of a friends house, your options are limited to asking a complete stranger if you can plug your car in at their house for a few hours, or calling a tow truck. It sucks. I saw a third option though. Park it for 20 mins or so, long enough for the voltage to climb back up a bit, and make a run for home being that it’s nearly all down hill. I made it.

My batteries seem to have survived the ordeal but are certainly damaged to some extent. I was lucky. It got me thinking though. What if this happened on the highway? I’d have no choice but to call for a $60 tow, and that would get old really fast.

My solution for the time being is to keep the car to very short, local trips (under 12k) and to buy an EV fuel gauge. Eventually, I want to invest in some Lithium batteries but I’m looking at $5000 for a half decent pack and even though I’m into this project for a couple thousand dollars now, it’s really hard to justify spending that much on a ’91 Sprint. Being that my batteries are becoming more and more useless by the day, I’m going to have to make a decision soon.

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Electric Cars Pollute More Than Gasoline Cars

I like to talk about electric cars. I spend a lot of time telling friends about my conversion project. Conversations are struck up at gas stations (where I only stop to buy coffee of course), at the gym and at work. Most people are interested to know all about the process of saving an old car from the crusher by giving it new life as an electric vehicle. Some of these people just want to chat, some of them however, make it their mission to inform me about just how flawed electric cars are, as though I don’t know. There’s one thing however, that comes up time and time again:

 

Electric cars pollute more than gasoline cars.electric cars are worse for the environment

I want to address this. First off, I’m not an automotive or environmental engineer. I’m under no illusion that electric vehicle technology has it’s downfalls and is by no means the perfect solution to the issue of climate change. In some ways, I see how it could be argued that EVs (and hybrids) are actually a step in the wrong direction as they make people feel good about continuing to use a vehicle that burns fossil fuel, just to produce electricity, not directly propel their car. I suppose if the environment were really your number one concern, you ought to ride a bike or walk.

I didn’t build my electric car to save the world. I’m glad my car doesn’t produce exhaust but I don’t think that my humble commuter is going to have a measurable impact on climate change. That said, much of what people tell me about how terrible electric cars are for the environment is at best, not well researched.

Here’s what I hear most:

EV batteries are bad for the environment

This is true but misleading. Gasoline is bad for the environment. Production of glass, tin, plastic and rubber is bad for the environment. Farting is bad for the environment. Lead acid batteries, which are the most common in aftermarket conversions, are more than 95% recyclable. More than most household goods. Lithium batteries which are becoming more common in production electric cars, are also recyclable.

Electricity is made by burning coal so you’re just moving the emissions from your tailpipe to the power plant

This is also true, but isn’t the whole story. Much of North America’s power is produced by burning coal. Some is produced by hydro and nuclear plants but let’s just assume for a moment that 100% of our electricity comes from burning coal. Is it not simpler to regulate a single power production plant than hundreds of thousands of gasoline burning cars? There are many, many old cars on the road that are poorly maintained and polluting far more than they did new. Electricity is delivered to our houses via an existing infrastructure whereas gasoline and diesel have to be shipped all over the world by tankers, trains and trucks.

At the end of the day…I don’t think it matters much. Even if the environmental impact of switching from gas to electricity was equivalent to switching brands of cigarettes, I would still drive my EV. It’s simpler and more reliable. My car doesn’t have coolant, oil, an oil pump, water pump, belts, hoses etc. Forget for a moment that there’s an environmental cost to producing and recycling all of these things…it’s just simpler.

Do electric cars pollute more than gasoline cars? I don’t really know the answer, and it doesn’t matter much to me. I like my car because it’s low-maintenance and incredibly reliable. For me, that’s where the real value is.

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Posted in Electric Vehicle Articles

I’ve Been Featured On Vic42!

electric chevrolet sprint

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Vic42 expressing interest in featuring me and my EV on their website. Obviously I was thrilled to receive such an honor and said yes. After an a wicked photo shoot, a short interview and a good hangout with some fun folks I’m now featured on Vic42!

Who are they? Vic42 is a site dedicated to celebrating amazing people in Victoria, BC, their passions and their projects. They have a number of features from months past and I recommend checking out their archives!

You can find them at Vic42.com.

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