Miata electric conversion

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Miata electric conversion

I've begun thinking about a future conversion of my 1990 Miata to electric. I've looked at several links online to individuals who have converted their Miatas...some really great conversions. I've also sent emails to a couple of companies that sell kits, etc. One of those is www.evolks.com...can't recall their company name...EV something. And they really have good prices it seems on kits. However the best conversion I've seen is one that was submitted as a "Miata of the Month" on Miata.net. But it was actually submitted by a friend of the guy that did the conversion and the guy apparently is a retired engineer and not into sharing his design...or selling, etc.

Anyway...to the point of this thread...I'd really like to hear if any of you folks have ever done a conversion of any auto and also even if you haven't...perhaps you know of some good resources to find out about doing a conversion...especially if Miatas are mentioned.

If I ever do this I'll need a kit and some good instructions unless I learn way more than I already know! I have excellent mechanical and automotive knowledge and skills...but my electric knowledge is still basic.

Gushar

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Re: Miata electric conversion

Whoops...wrong address...it's www.e-volks.com

Sorry,

Gushar

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Re: Miata electric conversion

Gushar,

Go for it! It's a realistic conversion to make. There are several resources online to support you - most folks would mount an 8" or 9" ADC motor to the existing manual gearbox (is yours manual or auto trans?). You'd probably want to run at least 120V, probably more...

There are a number of folks that build custom mounting plates to mate motor and gearbox and I'm sure if you contacted any of the Miata owners on the EV Album they'd happily share their secrets with you.

If I were you I'd budget $5,000+ for the conversion - possibly more. A lot of folks say you can do it for less - but I'm not sure how. It's still a heck of a lot less than buying Hymotion batteries for a Prius (but no back up gas engine). If you want a kit then you could check out folks like http://www.electroauto.com - their kit is $6000 (excluding batteries). They also do a "book" of instructions you can buy before hand. I bought it but wasn't that impressed - for $10 it's yours ($25 new). I also bought Bob Brant's Build Your Own Electric Vehicle - I think that's a MUCH better book.

BTW, I think if you shop around (using the kit contents as a shopping list) you can come up with a better value for money.

If you do decide to take the plunge then let us know of your progress.

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

gushar
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Re: Miata electric conversion

John-

Thanks for the encouragement and info! What is the EV Album? Is that on the forum here? I continue to learn more everyday reading what I can find online. I was also thinking that maybe I'd just do what you said and begin at some point buying the parts listed in one of the kits...and that way I wouldn't have to put out all the money at once.

I have good mechanical skills. I've worked on cars (hobby mostly) all my life...rebuilt an engine, changing clutches, brakes, really everything except tranny/axle/rearend rebuilds. Don't know much about them. But anyway, I've read and understand completely the "mechanics" of connecting the motor to the transmission...and mine is a manual transmission. Someplace I found they do have available an adaptor plate, etc. for the Miata. Others will make it for you if you send them the tranny and a clutch, etc. But, somebody I recall online already had one available. I do wonder though if you have to support the motor. Probably I think in the Miata...but I notice some VW conversions the motor just seems to be hanging there without support??? My other big thing I have to come to understand is what you do with the existing wiring that you disconnect from the gas engine...connecting fuel injectors,sensors, etc. And, what does leaving this disconnected do to the engine computer...cause I guess you have to leave it in there...to provide control for various auxiliary systems you may want to keep and run off an auxiliary battery. And that's something else I have to understand more....how the auxiliary battery system works being powered from the big battery pack...DC-DC converters...etc.

Anyway, I dream of doing this...and maybe I'll eventually get up the courage to jump in and start buying the parts and find a good manual...and go for it! My good friend who is a top notch classic car painter/car guy has already volunteered to help as well as do a new paint job...sporting lightning bolts on the rear fenders! :-)

Gushar

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Re: Miata electric conversion

EV Album = http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/ check it out.

The motor does have to be mounted and supported - most folks fabricate their own hardware to attach to the old engine mounts.

I don't think you need to keep the old engine computer. Most folks leave the old wiring loom in place.

That's what I need - a good friend who can do paint jobs... :-)

If I remember you're in California, right? See if you can find a converted Miata nearby (using the above link) and go check it out.

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

gushar
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Re: Miata electric conversion

No...I'm in Florida. Yeah I'd really like to actually see one in person. Also, why reinvent the wheel? I'd like to try and find the best ideas and combine them.

It's like I've stated to a couple of the EV conversion companies online....I don't know why they haven't jumped on this. There are countless older Miatas out there to be converted. It seems perfect for that as well. It's fairly lightweight. It's year after year sports car of the year...and the design from the beginning was from the ground up...so there is great design in the suspension, chassis, etc...with emphasis on weight savings.

I'd think somebody would have already come up with an across the board conversion design that takes everything in the Miata into account. I mean which would you rather be driving...an electric VW,Geo,Fiesta or....a Miata?

Anyway, there's one other source I haven't even considered. ..at least I might get some borrowed expertise in general. That is, there's a "The Battery Store" located about a mile from my home. It's new and I haven't even stopped in yet to see what all they have. I know they sell all kinds of stuff though...and have new golf carts sitting out front that they sell as well. There must be some folks there who know all about electric conversions????

Yeah, I've got a good buddy who does classic car paint jobs...I mean big dollar stuff...stripping them completely...with all kinds of customizing. His work has been featured in several classic car mags, etc.

Gushar

Gus

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Re: Miata electric conversion

Gushar -

I just came across this site: http://www.evadc.org/build_an_ev.html

It looks like a pretty good overview for you to read through to see what's involved.

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

Mannyman
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Re: Miata electric conversion

I have a buddy who's finishing a Miata conversion.
Here's a video that I also put on youtube...
http://evorbust.blogspot.com/2007/11/ev-electric-vehicle-conversion-nov-2007.html
He's done a few conversions including a Rolls Royce. The Miata is his favorite.

Manny

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Re: Miata electric conversion

Manny-

Interesting...and that Bradley looks interesting too!

What I wish is that someone like your buddy who has that much knowledge in this would sit down and write a manual for a Miata conversion. I would if I had the knowledge! I'm sure with all the aging...and not so aging...Miatas out there that there is a market of folks who would like to convert but just need a "guide" specifically for the Miata. The car hasn't changed that much and certainly didn't the first many years of production. Like I recently said to another EV guy...which would you rather be driving an electric Miata or VW? Not to knock VWs. My friend has an awesome 73 bug that's been restored...not to electric...just restored. I'd love to convert it too! However, he's not interested in that...for whatever reason. Anyway, I think a person could make some real $ off of a conversion manual specific to the Miata. You can bet if I ever get up the courage to do my 1990 I'll document the entire process and figure out what works best...and publish a manual for the next guy to purchase! I recently said the same to an EV conversion kit company...why they didn't create a specific kit...everything included...for Miatas. I mean they're all over the place worldwide and the market is just waiting I'm sure for something more than what anyone is offering conversion wise at this point. The guy or gal that puts together a specific kit and especially a manual for this will surely make some serious bucks from this niche.

My opinion of course...but after researching this and finding very little!

Gushar

Gus

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Re: Miata electric conversion

I have been doing some research on converting a small Fiat to electric, and I found that we are still 3 to 5 years away from an affordable practical electric car conversion kit. The current kits do not have enough range and/or power with basically the 1960's battery technology, and the batteries have to be replaced frequently and weigh a ton. When you can purchase high voltage Lithium iron phosphate 100 to 200 amp hour packs for only twice what comparable lead acid set ups produce, I then will be interested. Doug Canfield at EV Tech already has some prototypes of these batteries and told me recently that within 3 to 5 years he will have affordable kits available capable of highway speeds and a 120 to 200 mile range. These new generation Lithium batteries can be charged 1000's of times, are projected to last 10 years, weigh 1/3 and have 1/2 the volume of lead acid.

I guess going 40-50 MPH for 30 or 40 miles with the current kits (or 80- MPH for 15 miles) and replacing the batteries every couple years just doesn't do it for me.

I also thought about getting into a $5000 available kit now and adding the Lithium batteries later, but Doug told me the new Lithium powerpacks would fry the current motors and controllers available in these kits.

My advise is to be patient for a few more years if you really want to use the car for something more than a novelty or short distance city transport. Hopefully the oil supply will hold out that long!

Mannyman
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Re: Miata electric conversion

Yep, That's the misinformation that we have to debunk.

What's good for most may not be good enough for you, Andy.

There's people who want their cars to fly to the moon, yet pretty much only use their current vehicles to commute to/from work 5 days a week.

According to the NHTSA most people (over 70%) drive less than 30 miles a day. That's within the range of most conversions.

Be honest with yourself and log your daily miles for a week. You'll see that you can drive in an EV daily without having to send a penny to terrorists so they can use that money to kill our kids. There isn't a gas station in this country that doesn't sell gas refined from oil where most of the hijackers came from.

I know quite a few people who've had their batteries for a few years now. They take care of them. They don't need oil changes, filter changes, or any of the other planned obsolescent con game of crap the polluting cars use.

Seriously, replacing batteries every few years makes it seem retarded to spend 10 minutes how many times in those 3 years to fill up on $3 dollar or more for a gallon of gas.

What's truly sad is that there were commercial vehicles made over ten years ago, some of which still run today that were taken off the market. The batteries used in those cars (NIMH) had the patents bought out by oil companies and no one has been allowed to use them since for vehicles. Imagine how that technology would be today, if back then they were good for over a hundred miles a charge.

The 3-5 year wait game BS has been around for 50 years. How much do you spend on toxic, dirty, polluting, American killing gas a year? Why would you encourage somebody to multiply that by 3 to 5?

Oil is a neccessary evil, as long as we want it to be.

andys
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Re: Miata electric conversion

No need to go on the attack with exaggerated rhetoric. I am as green as you can get with a solar powered house, on demand hot water heater, etc. I don't know where you live, but unless I can go 65-70 MPh on the freeways, I will get run off the road. Where I live also happens to have a lot of hills. The current electric conversions are very inefficient. They are not going to be a viable means of transportation for most drivers. I wanted to make sure the person who asked the question about the Miata got to hear some information about the shortcomings of the outdated equipment currently available. As I said, if you are only doing local short trips in the city, they should work fine. Maybe for use as a second car would be good as well.

I was told a bunch of overestimated capabilities on these kits by some of the suppliers, and almost bought something that would have been totally inadequate for my needs based on unrealistic specifications. Claims on speed and distance were almost double what you'd get in real world driving.

Last year in China, they sold 11 million electric bicycle kits. These same companies have already started production of car conversions kits (and monster sized very stable Lithium Iron phosphate batteries) based on engineering from some of Americas most talented EV people. It isn't vaporware. You can buy a kit with these batteries now if you have the $20,000 or so. As the manufacturing numbers go up, the prices will come way down. I think its a crime we aren't investing in manufacturing this stuff here in the US, but that is the current (shortsighted) political climate.

here is a link to the type of conversion I want to do.

http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/10/08/video-electric-fiat-500-not-the-new-one-a-converted-one/

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Re: Miata electric conversion

Didn't mean to attack you, just balancing your post with experience.

It sounds like you have never been in a conversion. It also sounds like you have some unrealistic expectations regarding the energy equivalent of gasoline vs. batterries. You'll find that one gallon of gas holds more or as much as all the batteries one can fit in a car, again if you are like MOST of America that would be fine for a day's drive.

You do bring up some good points regarding terrain considerations, as well as long distances at high speeds, those would be occasions for that second vehicle, or better yet, mass transit.

Like I said just because it doesn't work for you, is no reason to make a blanket statement like: "They are not going to be a viable means of transportation for most drivers." That would be the only exaggerated rhetoric in this thread.

The US government says that for most people they would be viable.

I know that living in a city where rush hour prevents one from going over 70 mph for 90% of the trip makes EVs work for us here.

So in summary, a conversion is an individual choice that should be made in regards to that individual's circumstances. $20K is too much and unnecessary to convert a Miata, by about 5K from a professional converter, way cheaper if you do it yourself. Of course this would be with Lead today.
Happy Turkey Day.

andys
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Re: Miata electric conversion

Fair enough. I have ridden in several electric cars, but haven't built one yet, so I am certainly no expert.

gushar
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Re: Miata electric conversion

Interesting replies...and I appreciate them all. I think all of you have valid opinions and bring up very good points and considerations. I do believe that from what I know at this point...waiting a bit on battery technology might be worthwhile. I strongly believe that something is going to "break" in the not-to-distant future regarding batt technology that will help revolutionize conversion to electric. It seems the battery issues are what has been holding back more interest in converting. But from what I've read over the last couple of years...and what has even happened at this point...the time seems to be coming when this battery issue won't be an "issue" anymore. And that seems to me to be the only thing holding back all e-vehicle advancements and acceptance. Again thanks for your comments.

Gushar

Gus

jdh2550_1
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Re: Miata electric conversion

but Doug told me the new Lithium powerpacks would fry the current motors and controllers available in these kits.

That's baloney. Maybe Doug's designs are only optimized for a certain voltage but one of the beauties of EVs is that the motor doesn't care where the electricity is coming from. I'd love to hear an explanation that supports this guy's claims? (other than he wants you to hold off and buy one of his kits at some unspecified point in the future).

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

MitchJi
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Re: Miata electric conversion

Hi,

There are two categories of parts in kits:

1. Generic EV Parts (motor, controller etc.). I don't think you will save anything by purchasing these parts separately.

2. Custom parts specific to your conversion (Battery boxes etc.). You can probably save quite a bit by fabricating these yourself but I would recommend a kit with these parts. Is it really worth your time and money to reinvent the wheel?

Left Coast Electric sells Miata kits:
http://leftcoastelectric.com/content/view/13/29/
More info:
http://www.laweekly.com/news/features/whos-resurrecting-the-electric-car/13975/

EV Conversions in Florida:
http://www.grassrootsev.com/index.htm

Best Wishes,

Mitch

Best Wishes!

Mitch

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Re: Miata electric conversion

Hi,

There are two categories of parts in kits:

1. Generic EV Parts (motor, controller etc.). I don't think you will save anything by purchasing these parts separately.

2. Custom parts specific to your conversion (Battery boxes etc.). You can probably save quite a bit by fabricating these yourself but I would recommend a kit with these parts. Is it really worth your time and money to reinvent the wheel?

Left Coast Electric sells Miata kits:
http://leftcoastelectric.com/content/view/13/29/
More info:
http://www.laweekly.com/news/features/whos-resurrecting-the-electric-car/13975/

EV Conversions in Florida:
http://www.grassrootsev.com/index.htm

Best Wishes,

Mitch

Best Wishes!

Mitch

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Re: Miata electric conversion

Hi Gushar,
Just stumbled across your page...
I'm in the middle of a Miata conversion.
I'll be using a 9" WarP, Zilla 1K and 13 Optimas for 156 Volts.
The budget is around $15K including the car.

You can follow my progress (slow lately) on www.evmiata.com

Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done!

= Pat

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