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Welcome to the Electric Car Weblog. In addition to links, news, and tips about electric cars and other forms of alternative transportation we are publishing an on-line diary of our current EV project. Started in August 2005 the chronicle follows the conversion of a gas powered Ford Probe into an Electric Car.

You will find articles organized by categories, along with recent comments, along the right hand column of the website. If you are just getting started with the idea of converting a gas car to electric be sure to check out Your First Electric Car

Welcome and enjoy!

Hi! · 13 September 06

Red Tailed Hawk

Man, sorry for such a long quiet spell.

Well, lessee, last we talked my father had passed on and I drove out to the midwest to take care of things. Well, as it turned out things weren’t so good and required a whole bunch of taking care of.

Since then I’ve been living off and on in New Hampshire and Nebraska, doing my normal full-time job remotely, managing his radio station full-time, and working on some of the other estate items. If you do the math that comes out to…oh, about zero hours free-time per day.

Of course when I’m in Nebraska that means Eve is about 2,000 miles away and not being worked on. Maybe she’ll be this winter’s project? We’ll see.

The good news out of this whole thing, or at least interesting and pertinent from this site’s perspective, is that in the middle of all of this I bought a Toyota Prius. When you have to drive 2,000 miles to get somewhere, and do it a few times, you really want to get great gas mileage. And I have been. Interstate driving, at around 70+ mph, I’ve been averaging 47 miles per gallon. Around town and short highway trips clock in around 54mpg.

I haven’t spent much time trying to optimize these, but I do have a number of observations and opinions about the Prius that I hope to share in a future article (if time permits). Bottom line though is that the Prius is probably the BEST car I’ve ever owned and I hope more car manufacturers take a cue or two from it and start building modern, smart cars like this.

Hope you are all well.

Oh, and if you are interested in buying a 100KW FM radio station in the Panhandle of Nebraska drop me a line.


p.s. the photo is one I took of a Red Tailed Hawk in Nebraska

Comments 32
  1. — James May    Sep 14, 2006 07:12 AM    #

    Hi Jerry

    Glad you are back! I rather like the look of the Honda Insight myself. It only has a 1 ltr 3 cyl engine I think and is capable of very good MPG. I have got my eye on one car in particular owned by a friend of a friend. They have started to come down in price second hand. The main reason I think hybrids are a good idea is that they advance high MPG technology like batteries wich helps them and us EV owners too. I think this development would not get done if it were a straight jump from ICEV to EV

  2. Peter    Sep 14, 2006 16:03 PM    #

    Hi Jerry,

    First condolences I lost my Father 3 years ago, enough said. Nice Pic of the Hawk. Now that your a Prius owner you have a second project car :0 The plug in conversion of it :). Hope everything goe well and happy motoring.
  3. jcwinnie    Sep 14, 2006 17:24 PM    #

    It’s alive!

    Man, are you sure? Look at all those turkey buzzards circling.

    I tell you, it’s alive.

    I know, let’s poke it with a stick.

  4. — coder    Sep 14, 2006 22:49 PM    #

    hey, quit poking!

  5. Shaun Williams    Sep 15, 2006 03:10 AM    #

    Gidday Jerry,

    Great to hear about the Prius. I was once “anti-hybrid” because the marketing spin was that they were better because you didn’t have to plug them in. My view has matured somewhat over the years as I realise that they are THE answer to the future of electric vehicles, hopefully they’ll offer the plug-in option sometime in the near future…

  6. — Dan    Sep 15, 2006 23:02 PM    #

    Hi Jerry. We missed ya. Did ya get the Prius new? If so where?

    Anyway, Welcome back!

  7. Jerry Halstead    Sep 15, 2006 23:12 PM    #

    Hi Dan,

    Yep, bought it new, actually traded our old 22mpg 4cyl toyota truck for it. I tried some of the bigger dealers nearby, but they were all sold out. Turned out I found a small dealership in Vermont. Send an email to CJ Jack if you are looking, tell him Jerry sent ya:
    cjjack at durandtoyota.dealerspace.com

    I think there’s still about 15 days to qualify for the whole $3,100 tax credit. BTW, CJ says he can ship a Prius to other states in the US.

  8. darin    Sep 15, 2006 23:35 PM    #

    Welcome back, Jerreeee!

    Very good to read you again. I hope things settle down for you in the near future. Because, in case you can’t tell, you have, um, EV groupies or something.

    Prius – what a completely fun car to drive. Looking forward to your take on it.

    Take care and keep us posted.


    PS – Project Forkenswift inches forward: October will be the month the electric drive-train finds its way under the hood (touching wood with elbow while typing…)

  9. — alvan judson    Sep 16, 2006 00:55 AM    #

    Great to hear from you again, Jerry. We missed your articles : it’s been like doing without a favourite magazine for 3 or 4 issues.
    Good choice on the Prius. I have a friend with one and she let me drive it for an extended test. Managed to feather-foot it up to 22mph before the gas engine gently eased in (absolutely no lurch when the gas engine does come in…don’t know how exactly they achieve that) Of course I’m sure you know that the controller has already been “reverse-engineered” and you can buy a plug-in conversion in the UK for about 7000 quid…brilliant. Look forward to having you back on line and progressing with Eve, too.
    My triumph spitfire conversion is coming along nicely. I hope to show it at the British Car Club of Western North Carolina’s show on October 14th at Chimney Rock NC.
    Cheers, Alvan Judson

  10. — Tom    Sep 16, 2006 15:36 PM    #

    “Oh, and if you are interested in buying a 100KW FM radio station in the Panhandle of Nebraska drop me a line.”


    You own this station?? Not that I could actually buy a commercial station but always interested in radio… Are you a ham too?? A lot of station engineers are… If so, do you have a place on the bands where Ev’rs discuss EV,s?? Just wondering…


  11. — deano    Sep 17, 2006 18:19 PM    #

    Just an idea i’ve been kicking around Jerry, Electic forklift parts? ya think?

  12. — Ray    Sep 19, 2006 14:56 PM    #

    Great to see you back Jerry!

  13. — Greg Gullatt    Oct 19, 2006 10:39 AM    #

    Hey Jerry, Glad to see you back.

    I got sidetracked in the middle of January and havn’t checked out your site since then. It seems like you were to the part entitled “thems the brakes”. I would like to build an electric car someday but I decided to back up a little and shift to offgrid/alternative power sources and expand my basic electronic knowledge first. I would like to put together a website to have a place to collect the ideas and data and to share with others what I learn. I know it wouldn’t exactly be EV car related however there might be some crossover stuff as in PV panels, batteries, electronics, etc. Let me know if you can add a link to on your site to my future web page. Thanks in advance and glad to see you back !
  14. Andrew    Nov 27, 2006 00:47 AM    #

    Hi Jerry,

    I saw “Who Killed the Electric Car” last night and began to think that my dream of owning one might only happen if I built one myself. Went searching and came across your site. I know nothing about the area (I am an artist), but I just spent the last 3 hours reading about the birth of Eve. Is the head down? Are you getting ready to rush to the hospital? It’s Nov 26, 2006 and I am really curious to hear how you are coming along.

    Do you know anything about EV clubs or enthusiasts in or near Toronto?

  15. — Terry    Dec 28, 2006 21:50 PM    #

    Hi all,
    OK, I have had the ‘urge’ in the past to convert an ICE to DC but that urge genreally lasted to the ‘man this is too hard’ moment then faded. I looked over your first convert a year or so ago, and again lost the urge shortly after. I recently watched “Who killed…....” and have once again got that ‘urge’. I am happy to say though, that each time the urge takes me, it lasts longer than the last time. First a few days, then a week or so, then a couple of months, etc. My biggest problem is the money. Im married with 2+2 kids (2 with me, 2 live with thier mother and I rarely see them, although I do still have to pay for them) so money is a very tight issue. Just trying to scrape up the cash to buy a clapped donor is a real stretch never mind the $1K here and $2k there for a DC motor, controller, batteries etc. So at this stage, it has to remain an ‘urge’ BUT, at the moment, most of my spare time is being spend web crawling, looking for info, conversions, suppliers, etc, so if I come across anything interesting, i will pass it along.
    Speaking of which….
    I stumbled upon info on a Vanadium Redox Flow battery which looks very interesting. For those that arent familiar, it is not a ‘battery’ in the most common sense, it operates more like a fuel cell, using 2 differently charged solutions of a Vanadium electrolyte which are stored in tanks (not under preasure). It is rechargeable, and can accept cuurent at a fanominal rate, ie. as fast as you could drain it, you can charge it. But unlike a normal battery, if you want it to last longer you simply increase the size of the storage tanks and use more of the fluid. AT this stage, I have sent an EM to the manufacturer asking for more info, so I dont know what the KWh/Kg is, but just think if you simply have the cell/converter mounted on your main board with the controller etc, no long runs of High AMP wire, just a jump from the cell/converter to the controller, a couple of inches. Also, instead of having ‘fixed size’ batteries that you are trying to shoe-horn into your limited space, all the while having to make sure you can reach them all for maintenance/watering, imagine if you could just have 2 tanks or series of tanks, that are whatever shape and located wherever you want in/under the car.

    From the info so far, the electrolyte does not need to be replaced unless it gets contaminated heavily (water getting in etc) so there is no long term maintenance cost of replacing batteries etc.

    I will keep you updated as I get more info. It could turn out to be useless for an EV if the power dencity is to low, but its worth a look.

    P.s. I am in AU and would love to hear from, or meet up with, any other Aussies who have, or are, converting an EV.
    terry (at) froggyphotos (dot) com

  16. — James May    Dec 29, 2006 07:53 AM    #

    Hi Terry, I was like you and couldn’t afford all the bits to convert my own EV. I found it much cheaper to buy one second hand. The completed car cost less than all the conversion parts. I just had to fit different batteries.
    The great advantage of this was that I didn’t have to do anything difficult – like that adaptor plate. Also the car was working within a couple of months.
    The disadvantage is that I didn’t learn so much and the car is one I wouldn’t have chosen and it’s 15 years old.
    Anyway you can save money by picking up somebody’s first experimental conversion while they go on to make a faster/better one. Maybe you can find one of these.

    Maybe Jerry knows where people post where they sell them.

  17. — Terry    Jan 01, 2007 20:43 PM    #

    Hey, Great news… For me anyway. I stand here before you a CORRECTED man. you know what I said about not having the cash to build my own, well, My Mrs corrected me on that little point, apparently I (or we) do.
    I am now the pround (really ?) owner of a clapped out, non-running, rust infected, 1985 Ford Laser. I have even started a conversion blog at Ella
    You have no idea how excited I am.
    So I have spent the last couple of nights researching batteries, and I was wondering if anyone is familiar with FullRiver brand, they seem to have some pretty good specs, especially the HGL120-12B, C20=120ah, C5=102ah, C2=90ah, C1=72ah. here is the specs page (PDF) and the page listing all their batteries.
    Any comments on how these stack up with what you guys are using?
    I am looking at using a 203-06-4001 (or a warp 8 from what I have read they are almost identicle) and I want to try and set up regen so not sure what controller to use (i don’t like the idea of the whistle the curtis 1231’s give).

    The main use of this vehicle will be a daily commute to and from the train station for my Mrs, which is 15min 18km each way, a 9hr gap but no recharge in between. The trip is 9km highway travel (100km/hr), 9k suburban(50km/hr)

    so a total range of 38km.

    One question I have is, is it work going overboard on the batteries, and having MORE than enough cpacity to ensure you dont need to drain the pack past 50%? DOes the extended life of the pack offset the extra wieght and cost? i.e. will spending 30% more on the pack, make it last at least 30% longer before needing to be replaced?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  18. — Terry    Jan 01, 2007 20:50 PM    #

    Hi James,
    I would consider just buying someone elses convert except here in AU there are very few. EVAlbum shows only 5 in my state (with more than 3mil population, thats sad)
    Anyway, as you will see above, I have started on the long road to a DIY EV.

    Wish me luck.

  19. — James May    Jan 02, 2007 08:22 AM    #

    I wish you luck!
    I have regen set up on my Rover Metro with the Zapi H2 controller. It’s a nice controller but I think I’d get more power with a Zilla 1K which is my dream controller for a DC setup. My Zapi H2 is limited to 96V which is on the low side for a road conversion. The regen helps a lot with braking on my car which, with 400+ Kg of batteries, is quite a bit heavier than standard.

  20. jerry Halstead    Jan 02, 2007 08:37 AM    #

    Congrats Terry!

    Good questions. Regarding regen I’d suggest first trying to quantify how much advantage you’d get out of it before committing to the extra expense. If her commute is relatively flat without much stop-n-go then you might be over-optimizing (always easy to do on the first EV). That said, regen is a cool thing to have even if you aren’t getting the most out of it.

    Buying batts with more Ah than needed for a commute is a good plan. The things which really effect the life cycle is how well you charge and ensuring that the fluid levels are proper. Folks on the EV List often suggest not going overboard (expense wise) on your first battery pack since you’ll inevitably damage or destroy them as you learn the ins and outs of your EV. For all of the abuse heaped on my first battery pack they still managed to provide the most service of any pack I owned, so everyone’s experience varies.

    (p.s. I changed your links to be clickable)

  21. — Pietro Cambi    Jan 26, 2007 05:52 AM    #

    Hi to all, i am reading all of immense work of Jerry and your forum.
    My plane for a retrofit is very simple.
    By the way: It must be SIMPLE.
    Not that much of spare time and LOT to learn.
    It must be a SMALL car ( we in Tuscany have tiny nice roads either in towns or on the hills were i live)
    It must be a NICE, better say cute little tiny basic cars.
    Something perfect for 10 miles commmuting up and down the hill were i live ( almost 1000 feet) a couple of time.
    We r three and i will ue the car mostly aloone and sometimes back and forth from the ipermarket and from school: not a much of space neaded ( When i really need it i have a Reanult ESPACE for it 8o) )
    So: the smaller the better.
    Y guess it.
    It will be a Fiat 500 F.
    Someone could have never heard of it, on your side of the atlantic.
    But here in Italy it is a sort of a mithic car, like, say, the beatle or your ford T.
    The ones of y that like pixar movies know something about it: Luigi, the little yellow character is actually a Fiat 500 D of sixties (those peoplea r truly maniacs, they rendered also the bottom of the car perfectly, allpeices there, and i know very well it because of…y guess it: RUST)
    It is very easy, basic, should say elementary as for its electric and mechanics and is soooo cheap for spare parts ( a side doors complete for the cost of a moder side mirror) and y easily still find spare parts ( half a milions of this tiny cars still goin down here).

    Electric parts r just limited to lights and wipers.
    that’s’ all!!.
    Heater is just air ducted from the engine fan cooler.
    ( I will have simple day with it, because the car is so tiny that i just need some heated air on the glass to keep it clean. Human body generates enough energy to warm it but too much humidity with it.
    Most of all it ( electric retrofit) has already been done.
    AND ALMOST 40 yearso ago!

    Look here, and ( i bet y couldnt imagine) here

    Yes there were a bunch of fiat 500 rollng on catalina’s’ coast!!

    As the car is tiny and i want to save weight i made a tought decision
    LI-PO. batteries!!
    120 pound of it should be enough to run this car 60 miles or so.
    They will last 1000+ cycles with deep discarge (100%DOD)and thousands of cycles at 80% discarge rate.
    And i will need a lesser engine to keep it moving.
    It will be a dc 13 kw, aeronautic derivative, i am keeping it very very simpe, as i have told y.
    A friend with enough competence will make the charger for me ( at a cost) peculiarly tought with li-po in mind (cant take any risk here)I will have 96 volts of them, 100AH total 9,6 kwh.
    They r COSTLY ( say more or less 8 time those Jerry is using) but hoping to use them for many many year.
    I will save some buck, thanks to a friend who can import kokam batteries saving lots of bucks)and to very high Euro/dollar rate of these days.
    I’ll tell y more about it in a month or so!

    Thanks again for your dedication and sorry for my written english
    ( actually not used to write)

    Pietro Cambi,

  22. — Pietro Cambi    Jan 26, 2007 06:01 AM    #

    By the way, this is my 500 F, 1970.

    Fiat 500

  23. jerry Halstead    Jan 26, 2007 08:48 AM    #

    Hi Pietro,

    Great story and what a nice little car for an EV!

    Lithium polymer batts, that will be nice. Really looking forward to hearing more and seeing pictures during and after the changeover. If you have an extra 500 maybe you could send it over? ”:^)

    I enjoyed the story on your page of how they turned the old cars into “artificial reefs.” They used to do something like that back where I grew up in Nebraska, tipping the cars over into stream beds to keep the banks from eroding (presumably). Not very eco-friendly, but quite the sight.


    p.s. I hope you don’t mind I turned your URLs to links. For future reference just put quotes around some text (i.e. “here”) followed by a colon and the url (no spaces in between).

  24. — Charles    Jan 26, 2007 11:10 AM    #

    Jerry- are you going to finish converting eve anytime soon???? Im curious to see how it plays out

  25. jerry Halstead    Jan 26, 2007 11:42 AM    #

    Hi Charles,

    Somewhat dependent on the weather. My wife is pregnant (over halfway there!) and I lost the nice heated garage I’d been using. I’m in the process of turning it into a family room to clear up space so our spare room can be re-purposed for the baby. A lot of house projects right now and, with the sub-zero temps we are experiencing, less time/incentive to work on Eve outside.

  26. — Pietro Cambi    Jan 27, 2007 07:58 AM    #

    actually , jerry y cn find fiat 500 on e bay.
    but not that cheap on the usual sense y mean it in usa.
    If y find it i guess could cost some hundred bucks to take it to usa.
    actually a friend in the army could help, at least one with base here in tuscany, Livorno. (BIG BASE) or Aviano (BIGGEST Air base in europe, i think)
    He could buy it and then take it to usa.
    Take a look.

  27. — Simon Gibson    Feb 04, 2007 16:35 PM    #

    A Hillman Imp (Chamois) by Chrsyler seems like a good basis for a conversion too.
    They had 12” rims, rear engined. The point is that there is a lot of space in the front storage where the gas tank sits and there will be a lot of space around the DC motor in the trunk so the weight distribution should be good.. I used to have a couple of these when I lived in UK.

  28. — James May    Feb 05, 2007 08:16 AM    #

    Hi Simon,

    Yes, a Hillman Imp would be good. Maybe find one with a bad engine because they are pretty frugal as a petrol vehicle anyway. Very well engineered cars, I think it’s a pity they lost out in popularity to the Mini which was introduced in the same year I think (1959), I had a Mini.

  29. — Simon Gibson    Feb 05, 2007 18:09 PM    #

    The Mini was 1959 – My aunt had one of the 1st
    The Imp was 63 – Mine was a 66 and a 76
    They lost out due to alloy engine and a public that didn’t know how to look after them. I could rev mine to 10,000 RPM and get to 50mph – In 2nd gear!

  30. — ChuckP    Feb 16, 2007 17:44 PM    #

    I loved reading all the pages, thought for sure the project would have ended in completion.

  31. — BeeWeb - Ireland    May 27, 2007 15:40 PM    #

    Message for Pietro Cambi,

    Pietro, can you put me in contact with someone that would be willing to provide a chauffeured Fiat 500 in Fiesole? I’m getting married there August 07, and would love to go from the church to wedding reception in one! Please mail me if possible – bmpwebster@gmail.com

  32. — EdO    Jun 14, 2007 18:20 PM    #

    I think I found the one place you can get NiMH batteries, so you might want to give them one last shot: