• Aug 12, 2009
In the "Can I convert a gas vehicle to electric" installation of our Greenlings series we featured a video of a very sweet '57 Porsche 356 Speedster reproduction from Special Edition that had an electric drivetrain installed in place of its original gas-burner. Jack Rickard, the man behind that project, has now begun a second conversion that, Speedster styling aside, should be even sweeter. Not only that, as part of his EV-TV website effort, every bit of the process is being filmed and posted for free on the Internets.

Once it's completed, the extended MINI will be packing 54 kWh of lithium badness to power its AC motor. That should give it a real world 150-mile range, leaving the official MINI E from BMW crying for an extension cord. All that and a back seat too! You can find all kinds of great information about the conversion and a wealth of related wisdom on his blog and catch up on several already completed episodes on his Cooper Clubman page. Can't spare that kind of time right now? Hit the jump for the introductory episode as well as a bonus video of his Speedster getting lots of love from his local news station.

[Source: EV-TV]





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  • 20 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does he mention the cost? I'd like to know how much he spent. This is the kind of grass roots EV rebellion most of us love (and wish we had the guts to do). If it's relatively affordable I wonder if Jack would take on an apprentice... I've got a Jetta that's screamin' for a plug :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Is that $12k for battery, electric motor, air conditioner, etc., or just the battery?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Simple conversions run in at about 12k so for a 54kwh battery I would assume double that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        In his blog he mentions 32k for the mini and 35k for the parts, but he also says, he kind of has an expansive taste and likes quality...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Eeesh, 35k.... I need to save for a while. Thanks for all the info, though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I priced a decent AC conversion and came up with $10-14K exclusive of batteries (motor, controller, etc), around $5K for the batteries. 25KW constant motor (60KW peak) with only 27kWH capacity (26 of the 12V 86 amp hour batteries). Just to give you an idea of the scale of a home conversion - not including labor, of course.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thanks for giving us more technical details and insight your personal motivations Jack. It is exciting to see pioneers like you producing high quality electric vehicles which will force car manufacturers and battery makers to bring products to market. I like to build bikes and computers, but I'm not a car guy and I find the prospect of building a highway capable EV daunting from a technical and financial standpoint but I am sure that your videos will be of great help to many amateur mechanics.

      Hopefully in a few years we will all be able to drive affordable capable EVs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      54 kWh only offers a 150 mile range? The tesla roadster gets 240 miles out of 53kWh.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @wincros

        "Once it's completed, the extended MINI will be packing 54 kWh of lithium badness to power its AC motor. That should give it a real world 150-mile range, leaving the official MINI E from BMW crying for an extension cord."

        The MINI is a BMW product, as mentioned in the post. Curb weight for the Clubman is 2900 lbs new (including engine).
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Tesla roadster is made of aluminum and was designed by a team of engineers that had access to custom motors and transmissions. For a garage conversion of a steel BMW, I'd say this is pretty good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It is a Porsche, not a BMW. It weighed 1750 pounds including the engine. That is lighter than any modern aluminum bodied car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thank you all. I was a bit surprised at the mention.

        We are doing the video series on the Mini Cooper in some detail. This does slow things down, but I think it will be interesting in a kind of long, boring, detailed fashion.

        The Clubman version has significantly more room than the S model BMW has converted. We have designed a set of battery boxes that just geometrically allow two approaches to batteries - using either 112 of the Blue Sky 100 Ah batteries or 88 of the Blue Sky 180 Ah batteries.

        100 Ah - $12,320 - 403 volts - 40,300 wH - 125 mile safe range - 160 mile max
        180 Ah - $16,720 - 317 volts - 57024 wH - 152 mile safe range - 190 mile max.

        The same battery boxes can be used either way, but the box on the rear seats would have to be a few inches deeper for the 180 Ah cells. We are actually opting for the 100 Ah cells.

        The disparity with the Tesla is pretty simple as has little to do with Teslas marvelous engineering. The Lotus Tesla starts with is just over 2000 lbs and they finish at about 2650. The Mini Cooper Clubman shows up at 2900. We'll finish at either 3200 or 3600 depending on which battery you chose. I roughly estimate about 250 wH per mile on the 100 Ah cells, and 300 wH per mile on the heavier 180 Ah cells. Both of these are a bit conservative and I expect to exceed on all these mileage issues essentially.

        I say essentially because as many of you know, electric cars are very sensitive to how you drive them. And we are using some pretty generous units for heating and cooling. We simulate engine heat with a 4 kW water heater, and air conditioning with a 14,000 btu electric compressor - each of which are capable of eating a good bit of energy. But the concept is to do a fully equipped modern car with all those conveniences. Even our DC-DC converter will put out 130 amps at 12 vdc.

        On the other hand, this car will feature regenerative braking. I guess I don't quite believe the claims for regen generally. And we are certainly NOT going to do regen the way BMW and Tesla have. It will not engage when you take your foot off the accelerator at all. We intend to connect it to the brake light switch circuit, and you will have to touch the brakes to engage it. We are going to ATTEMPT to forgo vacuum assist on the brakes, and make the regen driver adjustable. This means you will be able to "tune" your brakes to use the level of regen you find comfortable with a light foot on the brake, and you will have to put some leg into it for emergency stops. We'll probably at least show a vacuum installation for those wanting full power brakes.

        How much will regen matter? I kind of believe it is in the 7-8% range - quite a bit less than the claims normally made. So we'll likely get a 10 mile range bonus over my figures above - which you can spend on air conditioning of course. In any event, I think we'll exceed BMW's range performance substantially - the Clubman simply offers a lot more room for batteries at little weight penalty on the base car.

        They also did not take very good advantage of lower space. They basically set a batpack behind the seats. We have carved out a space below the seats where the gas tanks were, and gutted the spare tire area for some more. So we'll not only have more batteries, but they will ride much lower, lowering the center of gravity on the car.

        Overall cost? Well, the car cost us $32,000 brand new. Obviously Clubmans can be had nearly new for $24-25,000. And it is true I like gadgets and we have used some of the best, including TWO Brusa chargers which total about $7200. That can easily be replaced with a single Manzanita PFC-75 for example, which will actually charge these large packs faster at $4500.

        In any event, our components will run about $40K the way it looks right now.

        I don't really believe that auto manufacturers will be able to deliver pure plug-in electric vehicles for some time to come, largely over the issue of batteries and the way that you can destroy a $12,000 battery pack if you run it flat (run out of gas). About the only way to get a true electric is to build it yourself or have one converted by one of the many shops springing up around the country to do this.

        And so I am advocating doing it yourself. And I have a small but growing army of guys who are doing just that.

        To save on gasoline costs?
        No.

        To save the environment?
        Warmer, but not entirely.

        It's a bit of a political statement. I chose NOT to be a victim of government policy, oil company interests, vested automobile manufacturers agenda, and the largest transfer of wealth from the U.S. to the Middle East in the history of the world.

        I can go into my garage, and work with my own hands, and come out independent of these coercive forces.

        How much does it cost? In my view, we
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice crocks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "...we should be done about the same bmw takes theirs back from the lease program to shred them."

      Here's a guy who knows that people in power don't want us to have full electrics, that all this is just a bait and switch to sell us more expensive and maintenance intensive Hybrids with higher TCO (total cost of ownership).

      All these companies have been wailing about their electric cars for well over 2 years now, yet not one model is available to buy in most of the world from a major manufacturer. Tesla is the stone in the pond here but sadly they are forced by economic reasons to begin at the high end luxury segment before they reach mainstream.

      What the people should want is full electric with open source battery technology, so that by the time the batteries wear out, in another 5 to 10 years perhaps, there will be a variety of alternative technologies on the market offering the possibility of extended range from original specs. If we let the major players control the technology they will just throw in programmed obsolescence and screw us over, just as they do now with the ICE.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, open source is the way to go on all technology, these monopolies being built now are self serving and detrimental to our technological development and indeed our environment.

        Put it all on the market through small companies, many will go bust, as has to be because it's a selection process, but if all technology is available the customers (I refuse to use the word consumer) will tend to make the right choices. Not only that but cars will be more upgradeable and tend to be more durable.

        The most environmentally friendly solution is to drive our cars forever, open source technology and conversions allows for this. Plus many cars have personality and are begging for a conversion to electric power or ethanol. Yet we have these monolithic companies and big government (which is just another monolithic company slave to central banking) that want to shape what we, the end users and supporters of all this jazz anyway, chose as product.

        I agree, it's time to start saying no.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree completely. I don't just want electric cars, but pretty much open source electric cars.

        Would you believe you cannot buy a CONNECTOR to charge the Tesla? They want $3000 for a charging station that is nothing more than a cord with a proprietary connector on it and a tiny Control Pilot 1kHz signal on it. The CHARGER is in the car of course.

        But to build any different kind of plug, say to connect to a NEMA 14-50 plug in an RV park , you basically can't. You have to buy ANOTHER cord from Tesla and modify it.

        And of course their battery modules are quite proprietary.

        I like the Tesla car, but I would never buy one. They have taken an adversarial position with the customers that launched them in a hundred different ways.

        But then I've also dropped my Paypal account and eBay now pretty much forces you to use one.

        We're in the most coercive period of economic life I've ever seen. You MUST do it our way or we are going to cut you off. The amazing thing is they are cutting me off of stuff I don't even really need. eBay? A brand new car company struggling to get off the ground? And of course with my tax dollars?

        I guess they get this tone from the government. And it would appear that everyone wants to be the government....

        Just say no.

        The good news is that there are enough conversions going on now to sort of form a little market. And there are some very good signs in the component business that we are going to get better chargers, better controllers, and better motors.

        90% of the technology you see announced we can't buy. The manufacturers want to put it in the control of the OEMs. Fortunately, the Chinese are willing to bypass all this.


        Jack Rickard
        http://evtv.me
        • 5 Years Ago
        ..."If we let the major players control the technology they will just throw in programmed obsolescence and screw us over, just as they do now with the ICE."

        Truer words were never spoken.

        It's going to be one more year before I'm ready to have my conversion done.

        Give 'em hell, Jack!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think this is a great idea have someone highlight every part of the conversion then all can see how it's done (on a new vehicle) older ones have already accumilated alot of grease and stains... i wish i could have a new car but just bought first house so now i have a garage to convert my own vehicle... i'd say best of luck but he already has built one so no sweet second time around...

      Brant
      • 5 Years Ago
      The video about the Porsche conversion was very inspiring. It also makes me ill that we send so much hard earned treasure overseas that ends up helping those who are against our way of life. The Mini Clubman seems to be a great candidate for a conversion and I've been thinking about doing something similar for awhile now. Thanks for the encouragement Jack!
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's a great little car, even as a gasoline burner. And yes, we think it will make an even better conversion.

        I would encourage you to do one. It's a lot of fun.

        Jack Rickard
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