I'm thinking about converting my 99 Neon to electric. Should I use AC or DC, and how big should I make the motor?
Hi, Andrew - You can use either AC or DC; they've both got their merits and their drawbacks. My personal feeling is that you should build the best EV you can afford.
An AC motor is a little lighter, but will have a more expensive control system. However, that expensive controller allows you to a) use your batteries more efficiently; and b) have really good regenerative braking. An AC conversion will behave more like the gas-guzzler you're used to driving - provided you use sufficient voltage. For maximum happiness, you'll want at least a 300v system. That's a lot of batteries, but the guy in the video above managed it. You'll be using 12v batteries, so that helps keep the weight down.
As for the claim that AC systems are more "complicated"? The folks who sell the kits to you, like Metric Mind, have already taken care of the details. What you'll get from them is plug and play.
For a DC system, a 9-inch motor with 120-144 volts will do nicely. Use 6v batteries for a simple DC system to maximize your range, or 8v batteries if you need to save weight.