Reverend Gadget is back...with an amazing electric car kit. And an amazing electric Speedster, too. And lithium!
He's got a complete, plug and play Miata electric car kit - electric conversions with AC motor, regenerative braking, high voltage, lithium batteries - and then a prefab Speedster kit car, 100% electric, and totally hot.
Hey, Gadget, what happened to you? You sort of disappeared there for a while.
In October of 2008, there was a fire in the shop, apparently an arson, and I lost my conversions (7 total), all my tools, the equipment, and the office. It took a while to recover from that.
That must have been devastating. You're back now, and we're glad to hear from you! Can you tell me what you're working on now?
Left Coast Electric - my EV conversion company in Los Angeles - is working on a few new and interesting projects. First of all, we're producing electric Speedster conversions. I'm working with the manufacturer of the reproduction Speedsters who builds them for me with the battery boxes already built in, then I wire them and install the drive and the batteries. The cars have a very nice fit and finish.
So I can just buy one of these Speedsters from you?
You buy the car from the manufacturer, and the conversion from me, but yeah.
So what does that cost?
About 55K for the basic model.
That's about half a Tesla, in terms of cost. Nice price! So what about the Miata electric car kit? That's an even nicer price. In the low 20K's for a hot little electric Miata kit? Really?
Yes, the great thing about the Miata electric car kit is that, unlike other kits where there is a lot of assembly and fabrication and whatnot, this one just needs to be installed and connected. That's it. All the wiring is complete and in a box.
So this is an electric car kit in a box that fits a Miata. The Miata doesn't come with it. Still, it sounds like it almost installs itself, if you leave it alone with a toolbox and an arc welder overnight. Maybe a tiny exaggeration.
It's pretty easy, though. The electric motor simply bolts in, and the batteries are assembled in blocks that you just plug together.
It goes together in a weekend or so, I heard? That's amazing.
Yeah. This electric car kit is a little more expensive because we do all the ugly stuff for you, but it means you can do it over a couple of weekends at home, that's right, or a few days in a shop. The average home electric car conversion takes about one year!
Nobody tells you that part, do they?
What batteries are you using in your conversions now?
I'm using lithium polymer cells...for now.
Why lithium polymer?
They have good energy density, but not the most power. However they are about 25% of the high performance cells and easier to use. The cars aren't slow, but they are not muscle cars.
Good enough for a commuter car, though.
The power is perfectly adequate for a commuter car.
Compared to, say, the Tesla, how complicated is this battery system?
Mine's got fewer cells, definitely. If a car uses 75 to 100 cells, it's easy to find a problem, but if the car requires thousands of cells (like the Tesla does) it could be a tough problem to find.
You've got your own battery management system?
We have our own battery management system that communicates with our controller. It protects the pack from the driver, you might say; )
What system voltage for one of your little Miata conversions? AC or DC?
The Miata is at about 360 volts, AC with regenerative braking.
Lovely! So what kind of range can I expect with that system?
Easily a hundred miles on a charge. More than that if you drive like a girl.
Um, not this girl, sorry. Two lead feet. Anyway. Where do you put the battery boxes in a Miata? Not a real roomy vehicle.
The battery boxes are split between the front and rear. Using the top part of the engine compartment and the space where the muffler and spare tire went. I alway try to keep the batteries out of the passenger compartment, and still leave a usable trunk
And finally, I hear rumors about a new lithium battery you're working on?
There is a new type of cell I'm trying to get the rights to. it's a large format cell that is low resistance and rebuildable. And almost 100% recyclable. Imagine a set of cells that would last 40 to 50 years!
40 to 50 years? That sounds incredible. I believe I'm about to see the light where lithium EV batteries are concerned, stay tuned. Thank you, Gadget!