• Mar 17th 2011 at 6:57PM
  • 26
John Wayland (A.K.A. Plasma Boy) is best known for building the record-setting White Zombie racer. His latest electric vehicle project, the Silver Streak, puts the emphasis on distance rather than quickness. That is not to say the Honda Insight conversion will be pokey (in fact, we're pretty sure that word isn't in Wayland's vocabulary). However, it won't be hitting the quarter-mile mark in 10.258 seconds at 123.79 miles per hour like its famous garage-mate.

Instead, its performance will be measured in miles. The goal is to easily travel from Portland, OR to Seattle, WA and back – a distance of around about 350 miles (or Kolibri territory) – at speeds of 55 to 70 mph on a single charge. To achieve this, the soon-to-be-former hybrid will be fitted with the electric motor and transaxle that once propelled an EV1 from General Motors. The electric juice will flow from a 71.5 kWh pack of Dow Kokam lithium polymer cells that should weigh close to 900 lbs.

The virgin voyage will be made "flanked by a squadron of Teslas" with cameras rolling. While we look forward to news of that finished footage in the future, the foundation of the story, with all the electro-geek details, is available now on John's blog Wayland's Words and is well worth the read.

[Source: Wayland's Words via Tesla Motors Club]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Dang!!! ...and I was going to give up my Insight for parts! I'd better think it over.
        • 8 Months Ago
        you might try selling it in the EV community for someone to convert to electric drive.
        evdl mailing list for instance
      • 8 Months Ago
      I think my CarBEN EV will do 300-400 miles on ~54kWh pack. Aerodynamics is key, as it swamps all other losses -- and it is a total loss. The energy lost in accelerating the weight of a car can be partially regained by coasting, and in an EV / hybrid, regenerative braking can regain some, too.


      Good luck John Wayland!

      • 8 Months Ago
      The Original Honda Insight is small, yet functional, lightweight and aerodynamic. Its a dream of efficiency no matter what drive train you put in it.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Where did he get the parts from an EV1? I thought that apart from some museum pieces, they were all crushed. Is he doing this just to slap GM in the face?
        • 8 Months Ago
        At the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association meeting where John announced this project, he stated that the motor was recovered from a GM dealership that was throwing away spare EV1 parts.

        He also stated that it was one of the best electric motors designed and that it would just be cool to have it operating in a car again. :-)
      • 8 Months Ago
      nicely done John.
      good density batteries, efficient drivetrain and focus on aerodynamics. that's the right way.

      but if you really want to go for it there really is no way out of building a car from scratch by the right philosophy because there is no existing car model that even comes close to taking advantage of the efficiency potential there is through aerodynamics and weight minimization. the first honda insight is indeed one of the few cars that have even decent aerodynamics but a properly built car with current technology could reach 1200-1500km range, maybe even higher. 2-seater side by side or even 2+2 with plenty safety.
      not that I'd fault John for not doing that, he's just one man with private money and has done a lot with very little.

      on a side note, I assume he got the kokam cells for free and they probably have decent energy density, but last I checked kokam was a bad company because they have a deluded sense of what they should get for the cells. I understand why John accepts the cells and why kokam like the publicity but kokam is simply not relevant as long as the fool themselves that their prices are not subject to competition.
      the competitive cells are in the 250-400$/kWh region and even they are way overpriced so if kokam wants 600+ I sincerely hope noone buys them.
      for a marathon car the panasonic laptop cells are still king and might do 50-60% longer if replacing the kokams.

      on a further side note, it seems osnpower of hongkong is now selling A123's 20Ah pouch power cell. around 135Wh/kg and enormous power. they charge about 490$/kWh which is not too bad considering A123's CEO stated they would be selling at 400. it would be better to deal with A123 directly but they have in their infinite wisdom decided to only sell to a very select few and osnpower seems willing to sell to anyone.
      if you're making a super car or dragster then there is probably no better cell than this one.
        • 8 Months Ago
        umm... osnpower is selling A123 20ah's? really?
        have you confirmed that they're selling a genuine product? and to the general public?

        If so, eBike community is going to go insane over this.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I would generally say that you're right. In theory, a very light, very aerodynamic car should return much better efficiency results for any powertrain, and improved range for electric powertrains.

        And so Aptera did exactly that. They went all-out in an effort to produce the most aerodynamic, lowest drag car possible. They even reduced rolling resistance by 25% by removing one wheel.

        So what range can you get from their 20kwh battery pack? About 100 miles.

        And what can you get from the Nissan Leaf - a normal looking hatchback with 4 wheels, steel construction, a back seat, space to haul things, and a 24kwh battery? About 100 miles. And it's cheaper.

        So all that work and expense of building a crazy-aerodynamic shape with carbon fibre is worth only a 20% gain in efficiency? There is either something terribly wrong with your theory, or the fact of the matter is that aerodynamics is for people who don't know how to build batteries.
        • 8 Months Ago
        $250/$400 per kw-hr ???

        Maybe that's what an OEM can buy them for, not a one-shot individual sale.

        Nissan is shooting for $400/kw-hr but hasn't gotten there yet.
        • 8 Months Ago
        it's not really retail sales but as a private builder you can get batteries in that range. thundersky aka winston is an obvious example. they sold for 344$/kWh but the price went up a bit. a couple of US sites sell them.
        if nissan is struggling to get to 400 then they are doing it wrong. and I'd question your source for that claim. nissan should be at about 200, maybe lower
        • 8 Months Ago
        well, it's freight from hong kong, it's a bulk reseller but sure they seem legit. I've bought some sample A123 cylindrical cells from them before. they seem to be the only supplier of A123 cells. not sure how they get them though. just nice to be able to circumvent the 'brilliant' sales people at A123.
        • 8 Months Ago
        well naturally you can assume my theory is flawless. that's always a good starting place :)
        for whatever reason, aptera managed to make a quite inefficient vehicle. they failed at the very thing they apparently went all out to achieve. it didn't score much better than the tata indica EV at the x prize and that's a conventional steel car with poor aerodynamics. that's a spectacular failure for such an extreme car. so devastating a failure that even if they managed to build them, their entire reason for being is undermined and would be nothing more than a fashion statement. papers should be written about how they managed to fail that much. (aptera is fiber glass btw, not that it's the problem)
        the way you can know that I am of course right and that it can be done and it works is to first push a kid on a bicycle up to running speed and maintain it if you can and then do the same with a hummer. if you can. I urge everyone to try such tests. doesn't even have to be a hummer. any modern car will do. it will dramatically crystallize what I'm talking about in your mind.
        another way you can know I am of course right is to look at the shell eco cars that achieve thousands of km/L (equivalent)
        all things being equal, if you reduce the Cd you reduce the energy consumption proportionally. same with the cross section area. and the weight. trust the math.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Aptera = overweight pig

        Pushing 2000 pounds, and had to have the laws for 3-wheelers changed in California so they could (someday) sell it. (Was 1500 pound limit for 2 or 3 wheeled motorcycles.)

        Their real kiss-of-death is when they went from rear-drive to FWD. Much better for traction, but moved their Cg so far reward, that they were afraid to drive it.
        Batteries were moved from around the front axle, to behind the driver's seat.

        Overall design totally screwed. Got way too complex and expensive to build. Spent too much money developing fru-fru stuff, and fancy gadgets.

        RIP Aptera.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Awesome. I think making EVs with the same range as gas cars is not the right thing to do since that is a very large capacity battery that is just wasted most of the time.

      But it is cool to show that it can be done.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I have a feeling this will be his long trip car.

        I wish Honda still made this chassis. They could fit it with a 16KWh battery and it would be a MiEV killer; no contest.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yeah, Michael Hippenhammer . . . I assume you are talking about lead-acid batteries.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Michael H

        Does that apply to every type of battery? There are many batteries of different composition out there, I doubt they all behave identically. No?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Working in the solar field taught me many things but, the biggest tip about battery life is that they will live much longer if you are only using 20-30% of capacity at a time rather than drained past 80%. If you have 1000 life cycles then you can drain and recharge 1000 times or if you only use 30% you will get more than 3000 charges. Batteries do not like to be drained past 80% it just kills them faster.
      • 8 Months Ago
      71.5KWH/900lbs. So....the Kokam batterypack has a gravimetric energy density of about 170WH/KG at the pack level? That's twice the energy density of the Nissan leaf batterypack. Pretty amazing if it's true.
      • 8 Months Ago
      A number of motors from the ev1 are still floating around. Maybe 10-15 and 4-5 controllers seems to be more of the Ford Ranger EV motors around as well.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I thought that sounded purdy high also.
      Tesla claims 53kw-hr from their closer to 1000 pound package.

      And, I'm sure that number is improving with their newer cells.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good luck to him.

      I am a fan of what he has done with the White Zombie such as dispelling some the myths that electric vehicles can't be fast.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The original Honda Insight is a dream platform for building an electric car on.
      There is another guy in Portland who made one with thundersky batteries.

      71.5KWh should do 35- miles, no problem, in that car.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Thanks, i was wondering where that thing went. i had hunted for it for hours.
        I figured i'd go with the next best thing.
        • 8 Months Ago
        the '-' key is right next to the '0' key
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X