My Electric Cars

I've always been a little weird, why should my car be any different?

There's nothing unamerican about cars - except for most of the gas.

In late June, 2000, I bought a used EV (electric Vehicle) over the internet. It is a 1986 Ford Escort that had been converted to electric drive by Solar Electric Inc. in California. That company has since gone out of business. The car had been used by the City of Vernon, CA, and garaged for nearly a year by an individual, with only occasional use, when I purchased it. After allowing the batteries to "wake up", it proved to be a real trooper, and was more reliable than our gas cars. I nicknamed it "Megavolt" when I placed it on the EV photo album. View all the specs at  The next picture is the Go-Kart I made for the kids.  Since most of it is from surplus parts or recycled items, I named it "Surplus Power." It is scary fast!
Megavolt!  Go-Kart Conversion! Kids Enjoying the Go-Kart!
Visit the album at to see many more EV's.

Most EV's are conversions of regular gas or diesel cars, and components are available for a wide range of performance levels. This car had a range of about 50 miles, so I used it at first for my commute to work and for errands around town.

I did it because it saves money, helps reduce pollution (power plant emissions are MUCH lower than car emissions, and besides, EV's are about 80% efficient as compared to 30% for a gas or diesel car), and it helps to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Oh, yeah, did I mention I'm an engineer? We LIKE to tinker with these sorts of toys!

From personal experience I can vouch for the uncanny reliability of EV's. Frequently megavolt has been our only transportation when our gas cars have broken down. Don't get me wrong, our ICE vehicles at the time were all mopars, and were exceptionally reliable. Considering the average age of our "fleet" was 12.3 years (A 1986 - Megavolt, approx. 48,000 miles, a 1991 - Plymouth Voyager, 235,000 miles (yes, you read that right!), and a 1995 - Dodge Spirit, approx. 150,000 miles), the reliability of all of them has been very high, with little major maintenance having been required during our ownership. However, the EV outshines them all, having required NO maintenance EVER with the exception of watering the batteries every couple of months. This can be viewed as an oil change that only costs $0.50, doesn't get you greasy, and where accidental spills have no ill effects.

I rebuilt the escort, improving it where I thought it needed it, and putting in a fresh set of batteries. I then used it to run errands, but my employer had moved to a new building about the same distance away (approx. 33 miles), and wouldn't let me charge at work because they were afraid of "some sort of liability issue" (their exact words). Since the range was only about 50 miles max., this wouldn't let me use it to commute.  I formally replied, asking them what specifically they were afraid of. Is it the UL approved cord, the UL approved NEMA 5-20 outlets that they already installed on every third light pole, or maybe the second protective GFI circuit on my charger? They never responded. I also mentioned all of the public charging stations in EV-intensive areas, as well as the fact it is no different than plugging in a diseaseal engine block heater, which is what some of the people there used the light pole outlets for (in 110 degree F Oklahoma summers - idiots). Nevertheless, they did not respond. I later sold this EV in the EV tradin' post (scroll down for link).

I've moved to different employers and cities since then, but I'm still incensed by this.  So now I built one from scratch. This new EV is designed for the specific purpose of laughing in their faces about the whole issue (even though I've moved away from that state). It utilizes lead acid AGM batteries (now offered in EV sizes), a high voltage DC system for performance, and is built on one of the lightest, most efficient chassis available.
Presenting:  The electric Squirrel!
(I almost called it Blue Thunder, but I think that's been taken.  Besides, it's not a racer, so it's kind of inappropriate.)
overall view
(see the "tech" links in the table below for cost and equipment information on the build!)

Check out my latest electric interest - rescuing a 1970's vintage electric lawn tractor from the grave...E15 Restoration Home Page

EV links:

EV Companies:

A wide range of components in an online store. Also racing and unusual EV's, battlebots, golf cars, and more

KTA services

Components and kits

Electro Automotive

Components, kits, and a lot of info. on insurance and incentives.

EV Organizations

Mid-America EAA

The midwest area (Kansas-Missouri) electric auto association has ALL the EV links that exist in the free world!!! OK, I may be exaggerating, but I haven't found one yet that was not on their links page. It is very well done.

John Wayland's Excellent Electric Drag Racing Website
Electric Drag Racing Organization

Buying and Selling EV's

EV Tradin' Post

The EV Tradin' Post, for buying and selling used EV's. This can be very cost effective, and an inexpensive way to get your feet wet in the world of EV's. It's where I got megavolt.

Personal EV web pages

Jerry Halstead's conversion diaries

The one that got me hooked! A must see for any technology types. Jerry Halstead has a complete web based diary of both of his conversions (one is ongoing), and it shows the good, the bad, and the ugly. Nothing is left out.

Ken Norwick's conversion diary

Although I don't know if they have traded correspondence, Ken Norwick followed in Jerry's footsteps with his Saturn conversion, and now with an electric motorcycle conversion. He also has a very detailed web-based diary, and his conversion is going on now. Follow Along

EV Lore

EV Gems

A collection of stories from the venerable Lee Hart, EE and denizen of the EV discussion list.

EV Tech Notes

EV technical papers

Some technical papers I've collected, and my own treatise on EV structural design.

Electric squirrel Cost Table
How much does it cost to build an EV?  Well, I may not be able to answer that completely, but this is what the electric squirrel cost.
Electric squirrel Cost Breakdown
This is a pie chart breakdown of the costs.
Want to know what it takes to build an EV?  Just check this out!  It's everything I used to build the electric squirrel.

Notes on the rebuild of my Escort EV

A guide to rebuilding Escort EV's originally converted by Solar Electric Co.

Right click here and select "save target as..." to Download a powerpoint presentation on EV technology (1.1 MB)

View/Print the speaking outline I used for the above presentation



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