The Electric Squirrel

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.

I built an EV from scratch. This new EV is designed for the specific purpose of laughing in the faces of my former employers in Oklahoma about the whole issue of charging at work (see the main EV page for details). 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.

It's a 1986 Pontiac Fiero GT Donor. The 'electric squirrel' uses 19 Power-Sonic PS121000 batteries with Rudman Regulators for a system voltage of 228V. A PFC-20 keeps the batteries happy and charges in a jiffy. A Z1K and a WarP 9" keeps the driver happy and discharges in a jiffy! Acceleration is brisk. As for range, I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. This baby has 35-40 miles real-world range at highway speeds with a lot of high-speed stop and go mixed in for some variety.

 

Here's the batteries and vacuum pump under the front hood. These Power-Sonic batteries are kind of like the concorde AGM’s discussed often on the list. Their chemistry lends itself to long life, but reduces the maximum current available, so they are not drag racing batteries (besides, at 100 AH and 70 lb. apiece, they are too heavy for that), but they are a step up from floodies too. They are sort of in between. The max. current draw from the batteries is set at 350A in the Zilla programming, to preserve them as long as possible.

 

The meter is unique.

Note the RS232 interfaces to the meter and controller integrated into the center console. I also added a subwoofer. It fits good here.

 

Here's the rear compartment, with a bunch of batteries and the Zilla controller. Acrylic shields abound. There's one around just the controller, one over the installation forward of the dividing wall, and one over the rearmost "trunk" area.

 

And here's the rear quarter view - you can't see the completely revamped lights or wheels.

Why the nickname 'The Electric Squirrel?' (See the squirrel emblems on the sail panels?). A couple of reasons:

First, I used to work at Piper Aircraft. They called whatever their secret project of the week was "The Secret Squirrel." It was always a closely guarded secret, and usually (okay, so far 'always') turns out to be either something of absolutely no importance, or just another mediocre airplane built using parts from the other models.

Second, I've always been considered to be a bit nutty, so the name fit pretty well.

Someone out there is surely wondering if they can buy something like this. Surely you can! Some other EV'er recently built a car, then put on his evalbum webpage that "everything has a price" and listed what he would take for his car. He subsequently drove it through the first battery pack, then sold it for pretty close to that on the EV tradin' post after about a year. While I don't agree that everything has a price, this car certainly does. I'll hand it over complete with custom written EV owner's manual and all the associated technical literature, component manuals, emails from suppliers, and factory service manual for $40,000. Then I can build another, better one!

If you already looked at the costs page, then you may be thinking "$40,000? I thought it only cost $20000?" I think you need to consider what a custom vehicle is really "worth." Flowing inspiration by a fellow from aircooled VW restoration fame, I put together this answer:

"There's $20,000 for materials, including the donor vehicle and delivery. Then you'd have to recoup me for a year of my time at about 2 hours a day, or 730 hours of build time. Add to that an equal amount of design time and time spent selecting components, arguing with vendors, tracking down lost shipments, filing receipts, jumping through hoops for insurance companies and the DMV, and doing miscellaneous paperwork. Now despite the fact this involves work the average mechanic would not do, I'll charge the going mechanic's rate, $65 an hour. This comes to $94,900. That's $114,900 in cash. You'd also have to play 300 games with my kids, watch 50 DVD's with my family (most of them kids movies), rewire my garage, buy me a couple hundred MB of computer disk space, a pack of CD-R's, and two reams of paper to make up for what I've used on this project, compensate me for 2 years worth of internet service, two new socket sets, about 40 good cloth rags, and a welder, donate about 12 pints of blood and a pound of tissue (taken mostly from the hands), expose yourself to hazardous chemicals such as aluminum dust and welding fumes on a regular basis, build my wife 2 really nice sets of bookcases (cherry, please, with a molding around the top and adjustable shelves), resurface the garage floor, and provide the local landfill with about 16 cubic meters more space. You'll have to provide me with three new 4' X 8' sheets of aluminum honeycomb sandwich panels and two sheets of fiberglass honeycomb sandwich panel. Then you'll have to help my kids unlearn several words they shouldn't have heard from me, mow the yard 120 times, complete a year's worth of 'honey-dos', and clean the garage 47 times. After that, there's just the matter of hefting 21 70 lb. blocks of lead into and out of confined spaces several times using mostly your back because it involves bending over the center of a car (that reminds me, I almost forgot compensating me for several chiropractic visits), and exposing yourself to lethal voltages while you're at it. Then throw in about 450 gallons of sweat and we'll call it even."

 

 


 

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