- Dec 14th 2006 at 8:40AM
Homemade electric truck project exposes Achilles heel of EV conversions: weight
We've showcased homebuilt electric-vehicle projects in the past, and they're comfort reading for this group. Honest, hardworking people with strong environmental commitments and a focused determination to exorcise themselves of fossil-fuel dependence, even if the effort makes no economic sense to others. The story of John Joseph and son Adam converting a $500 Chevy S-10 pickup follows similar story lines. They own an auto-repair shop in Virginia, the son did this before as a school project, gas prices going up, yada yada yada.
This story, however, offered a quick glimpse into the problem of weight. The S-10 is a nimble, spirited little runner at about 2,800 pounds. By the time the father-son converters were finished, it was tipping the scales at 5,700 pounds. That's more than a fully loaded Ford SuperCrew fullsize pickup. The heft comes from 24 6.4-volt batteries (and the mounting frames) wired in series for 154 volts, plus a 12-volt battery for the truck's accessories.
The Joseph clan carved off 1,200 pounds by cutting steel where they could, but it's still a massively heavy truck. And the conversion cost $20,000. It seems that many homemade conversions still rely on beastly lead-acid batteries because they're the cheapest and they don't overheat. But my question remains: where is the point of diminishing returns on these conversions? Is there a formula that helps home-based enthusiasts reach a balance between weight and power so they're not adding batteries to overcome more and more weight?
[Source: Peter Dujardin / Daily Press]