Motoring writer Michael Boxwell is a best-selling environmental and technology author (The Solar Electricity Handbook) and speaker. He has been a passionate advocate of electric vehicles for some years and founded a company that became the UK’s largest independent electric bike retailer. He bought his first electric car in 2006 and has been driving electric ever since.
The only book of its kind currently on the market, The Electric Car Guide has been significantly updated for 2015. Issues covered by this book include the practical implications of owning and driving electric cars; the purchasing and running costs involved; detailed descriptions of the various car models available; and a guide to buying used electric cars. It also explores the environmental implications and includes some unique ‘real world’ fuel economy figures compared with those for cars with combustion engines. With a foreword by electric car enthusiast, comic actor and presenter Robert Llewellyn, and interactive links to the author’s website, the book is an indispensable guide to anyone interested in owning an electric car.
The verdict: I thought it was really good, despite the cheesy over-hyped sales page. ('As seen on TV?' Really?) Don't let that put you off, though, because the product is worth it.
It comes in either downloadable form, for instant gratification, or you can order DVDs to play on your television if you'd prefer.
I did a (kind of long) interview with Gavin about this video/conversion manual set, trying to pry his EV Secrets out of him...I got a few of them, too!...and I have to say, having watched these, I haven't seen anything else out there that comes even close to what you get for the money with this. Thumbs up.
Oh, and Gavin gives you his email address with the videos, last time I checked, in case you get stuck on your conversion project...he will help you get it figured out.
Electric Motors and Control Techniques This one was recommended to me by more than one conversion shop. It's about optimizing electrical systems so they work well.
Often people don't think about this aspect of building an electric car. They look at range and speed as an absolute, and settle for less than the system they have is capable of. They don't think they can understand or implement the optimizations, so they don't bother.
I noticed right away that the conversions that electrical engineers do always seem to get more bang for the buck than the conversions your average jill mechanic does for herself. Wondering why...I began to investigate. The thing that stood out the most to me is that optimization of systems is second nature for the engineers.
If you want to spend your money and time wisely, check into optimization. It's worth the effort.
Convert It! by Michael Brown.
This is another classic. It covers step by step how to convert. You might say it's kinda old, but in its defense, some things don't change all that much, right?
Electro Automotive, one of the best-known sellers of conversion kits and parts in the United States, includes a copy of this book with every kit purchased.
I'll bet there's a reason for that!
The new edition of Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman is a classic for a good reason.
Be warned: there are quite a few physics equations dealing with drag coefficient and the like. If you got a D in college physics, Do Not Be Alarmed. You really don't have to sweat this. The main thing he's saying with all the little letters and numbers is that you'll get the best range out of your batteries if you choose an aerodynamic car, and lighten it up as much as you can.
See? Wasn't that easy?
Also, he feels pretty strongly positive about converting small pickups (You can see why on p.105 where he compares the aerodynamics of several potential donor vehicles).
Small pickups are very sensible donors for several reasons:
I'd read this one first - you won't be disappointed. It's even better than the original.
Next, Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle (Tab Green Guru Guides) by Carl Vogel, for those of us building electric motorcycles. Actually, the same basic principles apply for converting motorcycles to electric as for cars, except you don't have a lot of margin for error regarding weight and space.
This book is remarkably thorough, and I'd recommend it for anyone converting anything to electric. It's that good.
There are a bunch of graphs and equations in here, too, but no worries - they're very streamlined and practical and you'll be happy they're in there for understanding purposes. He leans toward lithium batteries, though it's not a necessity.
Here's my question for the author: How am I supposed to ride an electric Harley conversion without all that beautiful engine noise? There's no chapter in the book on fixing that little problem. If you know of a solution to this terrible disadvantage of electric motorcycles, please hit the "contact" button up there at the top and let me know. We'll all thank you.
Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (Tab Green Guru Guides), for hybrid converters. Note: this book is not for converting a gas-guzzler into a hybrid. This book shows you how to convert a hybrid into a plug-in hybrid. Just to be clear.
If you've got a hybrid and you're wondering exactly how to add batteries to it and plug in for more miles per gallon? This is the book you're looking for. The author discusses in here the different batteries you might choose, and where to put them, and how to attach them; there are some control schematics; and, very importantly, he discusses what this sort of retrofit will do to your hybrid's warranty. (Answer: modifications won't affect the warranty. The only part of the warranty that can be affected is the actual part you alter.)
Did you know that hybrids come with 4 or 5 warranties? It's in the book(p. 223).