Larry's EV · 12 October 05
Meet Dr. Larry Tillman’s 1991 Geo Metro EV: No Gas 2
This isn’t your average electric car, as you will see. Clocking in at a spry 1,900 pounds it features 12 batteries, seven solar panels, and seven chargers. He even has a ham transceiver on board.
Here’s the story straight from Larry:
To explore what would be required to convert a gasoline car to electric, I purchased an old 1991 Geo Metro LSI in the spring of 2004 for $500. After removing the engine, gas tank, radiator and exhaust I cleaned up the car restoring the paint and cleaning up the interior.
In the weeks ahead I purchased an electric motor, controller and throttle sensor along with the batteries and battery chargers. I decided to go with a 72 volt DC system. After three months of spare-time labor expended in mounting and wiring all of the components, the modified car was ready for a test drive.
I carried a passenger on the maiden voyage and arranged for a chase car to follow just in the event of a breakdown. The car was able to reach a top speed of between 55 and 60 MPH on the main highway. The first trip was only about 10 miles.
Several things were learned in the first test drive; the wiring size needed to be larger due to heating, and the tires needed more inflation to reduce drag. The car had plenty of pep and handled like it did with a gas engine only with no engine noise or exhaust fumes. The little Geo had become a prototype “0” emission data-gathering car. Subsequent experimental refinements further increased its efficiency.
Recently solar panels were added across the trunk lid not so much to add charge to the batteries but to keep the battery voltage high during times the car is away from a changing plug (standard 110 VAC house current). Normally the car can recharge overnight with its seven onboard chargers or within 4 hours on fast charge. Interestingly the batteries and chargers were all purchased from a local Wal-Mart store, and the solar panels were readily available from Radio Shack. Although the solar panels used on the Geo are now a discontinued item, other off-the-shelf panels, which are even more efficient, are available from various retail sources at reasonable prices.
Since the Geo’s conversion it has been driven over 6 thousand miles (May 2005) and all of this without burning one drop of gasoline. The terrain or other factors such as carrying a passenger or cargo or both affect the range, but still it has proven to be a practical and effective form of alternative transportation.
I have already been invited to display a conversion car and discuss the mechanics involved in this process with the engineering students at Cedarville University. In addition I have been asked to display a converted car and discuss the topic at Southeastern High School for their science and shop classes. Topics such as weight shifting on the chassis, gearing, and stabilizing will be discussed. The students will also be given the opportunity for consulting help should they decide to create a conversion car as a project.
The children growing up today and being educated in our system are the ones who will be handed the keys to freeing our Nation of oil dependency and cleaning up the environment from the environmental impact of the industrialization of the world. American ingenuity can save this planet from global warming and in the process reduce if not completely eliminate our need and dependency on foreign oil.
A few more details on the electric car components:
- 1991 Geo Metro LSI
- 5 speed manual transmission
- D&D electric motor
- AXE controller
- Firestone SS tires (40psi)
- Range 42 miles
- Top Speed 70mph, normal cruise of 45/50
- Curb weight 1,907lbs
- Conversion cost: $4,000
Great job and congratulations, Larry!
If you are in the middle of a conversion, just finished, or happily commuting gas-free already and would like to share your EV pictures, experience, and specs please drop me a line.
NOTE: We’ve posted an update: Larry’s EV II