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Saabrina · 19 October 05

Welding Battery Box Frame

Back in June of this year Mark Ward (pictured below) started converting a 1995 Saab 900 to electric.

So far he’s made great strides: removed the engine, gas tank, exhaust, and related accessories. There’s a giant gaping hole in the trunk which is starting to shape up as a battery box holder and the dash is getting a bit of a facelift. He plans to retain the 4 speed automatic.

But let’s begin at the beginning…

In Mark’s words:

The Saab was “surplused” by the school district I work for because the engine was destroyed. These have a nasty habit of throwing off the timing belt and bending up the valves. So “Saabrina” became an orphan needing a $3000 engine to ever run again!

Old motor yanked out

It was love at first sight! This car was not to big, not to small, and the first time I looked at her, I realized she had it all, appearance, suspension, brakes, and class! I had to wait two months to go through the process and finally receive the title. This time was spent on significant research on the electric conversion.

I don’t drive a lot of miles. My world exists pretty much within a 10 mile radius of St. Charles, MO. That said, I am getting pretty angry with the price-gouging on gasoline and have decided to do something about it! I really feel sorry for those who have to commute long distances every day.

This car will probably not go more than 30-40 miles on a charge, but electricity in this part of the country is pretty reasonable when you figure it might cost $20 or so a month to operate. I first looked at converting my Ford Ranger to compressed natural gas, making a “bio diesel” and other options, but they still burn something. Why not help the environment at the same time?

Before weight is rated at 2900lbs. Should be fairly close to the same when done. Undecided on batteries, probably Zilla 1k for controller, Zivan charger if floodies, PFC if AGMs.

Ultimately my plans are to use an Intel Centrino based mobile computer to control most aspects of the car, including battery & controller monitoring, transmission shift points, environment, air lift system and other aspects. I am trying to keep the car close to original appearance and not butcher anything or throw batteries in the back seat like I have seen on some other conversions. I guess basically I am a “do it right the first time” type of designer…measure 3 times, cut once.

New Motor next to Saabrina

Above is the new motor for Sabrina, a Netgain Warp 9 “Impulse” purchased from EVSource. Mark is most of the way through the construction of battery boxes. He has a great idea to protect the boxes using a truck bed coating from Duplicolor.

Be sure to swing by Mark’s EV weblog to follow his progress and leave a word of encouragement.

Glossary of terms:

  • AGM – Advanced Glass Mat, sealed lead acid
  • Zilla – Powerful EV controllers from CafĂ© Electric
  • Zivan – EV chargers from Italy, predominately for lead acid packs
  • PFC – nice lead/agm chargers from Manzanita Micro (why look, Christmas is coming and I need a charger!)
Comments 2
  1. — jim    Sep 09, 2008 07:39 AM    #

    How does electric save anything? Doesn’t the power plants use diesel to make the electric ?

  2. Jerry    Sep 09, 2008 07:53 AM    #

    Hi Jim,

    It all depends on where you live. Some areas provide electricity from hydro, some from coal, some from natural gas and so forth. Alternately you could even be getting it from alternative sources like wind, solar, geo-thermal, and wave energy.

    That’s the nice thing about using electric you have a wider variety of choices on where and how you make it. In fact you and I could generate our own, if we are so inclined. Plus, even if it’s made using Coal or Diesel, it’s a lot easier to improve the efficiency and cleanliness of a single power plant than it is to do the same for millions upon millions of individual vehicles.