Now, you know I like the AC electric vehicle motor for conversions, so when I found out that a company in Ontario, California had come out with an electric car motor and controller combination that was simple to install, snappy to drive, and half the price of the familiar AC drive systems that have been available...
...I had to find out more about it. And what did I find out? It really IS as good as you've heard, and it's changing the EV conversion game. And no, it's not made in China, either. It's made right here in the US.
This electric vehicle motor is called the HiPer AC-50. It's made by a company called HPEVS; you may remember them as HPGC, builders of good electric golf cart motors, and they still do make a variety of different motors. This AC-50 is no electric golf cart motor, though - it's specifically for electric car conversions. (Cute little electric sports cars with lithium batteries, mostly, from what I've seen; )
I'll let you listen in on a conversation I had this week with one of the founders of the HPEVS company, Brian Seymour.
Lynne: Brian, when someone wants to buy one of your AC motors, like the AC 50, for their conversion project, can they buy them directly from you, or are there dealers or retailers or whatever? Are you the manufacturer?
Brian: Yes, we are the motor manufacturer. We use the Curtis AC motor controllers and write our own software and do our own controller tuning.
So if I wanted to buy a motor for my conversion project, should I call you, or do you have retailers?
We do both. We prefer hobbyists to go through dealers, conversion companies come direct to us. There's a list of dealers on the HPEVS website...
Not that I could find.
Then just call us at 909-923-1973 or 800-340-7107. We are having a new website built, the current one is lame.
Why have AC drive systems been so expensive, and why is your electric vehicle motor so...not expensive?
The way we keep the cost down is the secret sauce so to speak, I can tell you.
Not because it's outsourced to China, right?
No. They are not made in China, they are made in the US.
I keep hearing "Curtis 1238" in the same sentence with your HiPer AC 50. Is that the only controller I can use with your motor?
We have had a couple customers use the Sevcon AC controller, but I can't support the system then. There is no advantage to using any other controller than the Curtis.
Do you make controllers, or just motors?
We just make the motors and write the software for the controller.
Why are people calling it a controller, anyway? Don't AC motors have a different system, and use an inverter or VFD instead?
That's right. It is the industry term, so we use controller.
But is that just terminology, then? It actually IS an inverter, and it does regen braking?
I'm understanding that a Curtis 1238 doesn't come automatically from the factory already optimized to work with your AC 50. Your software and tuning allow it to do that. Is that right?
Correct, the controller is a dumb box when it comes to us.
So with the software and controller tuning - is this something you do with each individual system, based on the specific EV requirements? Or are there sort of 'factory settings' that you send out the controllers with?
Generic systems have the parameters set, we can customize before shipping or the customer can buy a programmer and make adjustments. It is designed though to work right out of the box.
Do I buy a controller from Curtis and send it to you for programming when I buy my motor, or how does that work?
The controller is part of the kit you buy from us.
The fiberglass Porsche Speedster and Spyder replicas really LOVE this motor/controller combination. Pairs nicely with LiFePO4 batteries! Here are a few conversion shops and hobbyists around the country using these:
If you know of other conversion shops out there who are using this combination, let me know!