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Electric vehicles are in use everywhere. They have proven to be efficient, quiet, economical and clean. The price, range, speed and load capacity of electric cars today fit as much as 80% of the driving needs of commuters in the United States.
I just realized I have not posted any outline of my plan for getting from dusty relic to driveable electric vehicle nor have I posted any estimate of what it is likely to cost. These oversights need to be corrected now so that those who suspect I am crazy can have their suspicions confirmed early and move on to other reading.
The cost of the electric conversion components alone is expected to be $4,000 to $5,000. This is based on lots of reading and a detailed, itemized "menu" of components, specific to a 72V system for this car, presented to me by Bob Batson, on request. Many of the components are heavy so shipping can be significant. I expect to have to spend another $4,000 or so on restoration and customization of the car. A sensible person would just buy 3 or 4 'commuter specials' (cheap used cars that nobody wants to park near, but which are still mechanically reliable).
My simplest plan for this is a 3-step one:
That is a fair representation of the overall plan for the car, even if it is too simplistic to be useful in the electric conversion. I needed much more detail because I've never done such a conversion.
Like many before me, I started by wishing for 100+ miles for a range. You can do that if you either (a) have essentially an unlimited budget for some of the battery-motor combinations out on the bleeding edge, or (b) start with a light truck, or (c) drive at golf cart speeds. My budget is not unlimited and I like to drive fast. To get a high cruising range I would need to high battery mass to vehicle mass ratio. Trucks are designed to haul big payloads; the 4CV was not. I chose to give up the high range in favor of getting the little car back on the road.
How about 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds? Or beating a 375 HP Camaro on the dragstrip with a street-legal battery powered car? The tZero uses a high-end, high-priced AC motor and battery system that is far out of my budget. I don't have any illusions of reproducing the accomplishments of John Wayland with his dragster Datsun "White Zombie".
The 4CV with its original engine could cruise at an acceptable speed. It was never quick in getting to that speed. It is a fairly aerodynamic car and doesn't take much to keep it rolling. Whether you measure it in kilowatts or horsepower, the amount of power required is the same. The DC electric motor I will be using will have about the same horsepower and nearly double the torque of the gasoline engine. It will just have to haul around about 400 pounds of batteries. More batteries would allow it to draw power for a longer period of time, but that would put the car over its GVWR.
The costs have to be counted. The conversion components are going to cost between $4,000 and $5,000. If I were building a daily commuter in order to take advantage of the long-term lower cost of operating an electric vehicle compared to a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle, I would look for a small truck as a donor vehicle in the $1,500 to $2,500 range. This would yield a converted and restored vehicle of about $7,500 to $10,000 that would be better than typical used cars or trucks in that price range. It would also be a lot cheaper to operate.
Making the 4CV road-worthy and restoring the body work and interior is likely to cost anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000, depending on how much I can do myself and how much I have to "farm out". If the engine were to be restored, it would add another $500 to that. All of the costs can be spread out over the time that it takes to do the job. This will lessen the pain, a little.
I will update and expand on this as the project progresses.
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