I have a '94 Subaru Legacy L wagon with right hand steering, all-wheel drive and an automatic on the floor. I use it on a 70-mile mail route with about 100 stops and several good size hills. I would LOVE to convert this car to electric. Is it practical? Anyone ever do it?
Hey, Doc - Is it practical?
Well, with a 70 mile mail route that includes hills, you're pushing penny-pincher EV technology to the limit. (Probably past the limit.) This doesn't mean you can't do what you want to do, it just means you'll have to spend some money.
This little Toyota pickup has an 85-mile range, including a few hills, and manages to do this with lead-acid golf cart batteries. It's got an AC system, lots of volts (320 volts), and uses 8 volt golf cart batteries, which are lighter but have to be replaced more often.
The automatic transmission? Most experienced EV converters, but not all, would discourage you from using a donor car with an automatic transmission. Everybody I've talked to who does conversions for a living advises against converting automatics, if that tells you anything. Your call.
Nobody on the EV Photo Album seems to have converted a Legacy yet, but it seems reasonable to me. Light, aerodynamic, room for batteries.
I need to drive 80-90 miles a day on the Interstate. What is the longest range anyone has gotten out of their EV at 55 miles per hour? (I don't need to speed or go 65 MPH if I am saving money.)
Hi, Daniel! The Toyota pickup AC conversion in the photo above claims 85-200 mile range at conservative freeway speeds, using regular lead acid batteries. A LOT of them; )
For the kind of range and speed you require, I'd really recommend the AC drive system with its strong regenerative braking capability.
Ps. LiFePO4 batteries are available now (2011) that will give you all the range you need.
Psst: The article on the bottom left, "OEM Electric Car Motor", is part of an interview with a guy who did a very nice AC conversion - and didn't spend an arm and a leg on it, either. You can access the whole interview from there, I just included the link for that particular segment. Happy reading!