New Project

I finally got a Friday video up on Friday. This week we talk about the fix for our Mini Cooper Clubman air conditioning (many thanks Marcus Siegert) – a simple high current diode on the positive input.

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We also introduce our latest project – a 2008 Smart For Two and introduce you to a new drive system, the PowerpAC30 from Elektro Vehicles Europe with their 30kw AC motor. We’ll be using this system in the Smart project. We think we can put together a nice urban electric vehicle with 50 mile range for less than $25,000.


jack Rickard

12 thoughts on “New Project”

  1. Jack and Brian; Seems you’ve had an epiphany of sorts. People don’t buy Speedster replicas or Minis in near the number of Corollas or Civics or Malibus for that matter. Prius’ are a statement in and of themselves. As I’ve told you, my choice was a 2010 Insight over which I am torn. Dynamically, it’s a nice reasonably priced city car. Does what I bought it to do just fine. Commutes well. I’m at 42+/- mpg here with Renos’ hills and freeways etc. The cars’ massive shortcoming in my mind is that it is dumb. Regens and draws down the battery, such as it is at all the wrong times.
    I think your taking on a Smart4/2 is a step in the right direction and by that I mean you may accomplish this conversion from a sort of “kit” component perspective which is more mainstream if you will. It’s, for me, like waiting for the day I can drive to HD and buy a frigging roof top solar array and “put it on the card”. (Credit is Bad, I know that now that I am old, but you get the point.
    I’m hoping for the day I can order a “kit” to both transform the Insight to a plug in city car and actually get the stuff from an (internet) supplier without having to worry about world wide transactions. It would be that much better and worth waiting for in principal, if the kit were made right here in the (formerly) good old USA.
    You guys keep up the good fight, and my condolences on dealing with the weather this “summer”. You’ll remember, perhaps that that was why I missed MO and a visit with you, on my bike ride from FL to Reno couple months ago… I’m almost afraid to comment on our low to mid nineties, no humidity and no fires (knock on wood) and little rain… i’ts been a wonderful summer of frequent bike rides throughout the Sierras so far. Take Care Jim Tennier Reno

  2. No epiphany Jim, and I still officially and personally view hybrids as EV’s for sissies and girls.

    I can do an 800HP gas guzzling muscle car or Cadillac Escalade. And I can certainly do an EV. A hybrid is a cowardly half step in between the two – I repeat – only suitable for girls.

    If I HAD a Prius I would put it up on concrete blocks in the front yard with the hood open and the wheels off. Same with the Chevy Volt.

    People BUY pet rocks and Pokie Mon. This means nothing to me.

    Jack Rickard

  3. The motors Dave is carrying are Great Lands, Unites, and the Ford Siemens AC with a Rinehart Motion inverter.
    You tried to purchase a Greatlands from that GLEVP character didn’t you?


  4. Jack,

    I don’t know this queation is already asked, but you know that I’m a lazy reader:

    If you hardly believe regen will help much, and you’re also looking at affordadble conversions, why do you look only at AC?

    Why do you prefer AC above DC?

    Regards, Jan

  5. Hi Jack,

    Regarding the proposed battery back for the smart car. You mentioned a ~120volt pack of 90Ah thundersky cells. Are you worried about the power capability of that pack since the thunderskys are only 3C rated? If the car is a fixed ratio (stuck in 3rd) you don’t have the gears to adjust speed/torque and may require a good deal of motor torque (and current) to have a decent acceleration…..

    BTW, who is your preferred source for the thundersky battery cells. I am looking to buy a pack in the near future. I would love to hear about any reliable sources or methods for obtaining these cells…..


  6. We do not only look at AC. AC has some advantages, and DC has some others. For this car, I think the EVE package is pretty good. Jim Husted is currently working on a PAIR of Netgain DC motors for us for a coming project.

    The 90AH Thundersky cells are indeed a little weeny, but so is the car. I think we’ll make adequate power to hobble around town. I don’t see this as a “sporting” car nor a freeway flyer. It will be a bit of an errand car for urban areas. So we should be able to make enough power to accelerate quite nicely in 3rd gear I think, climb hills, etc. I’m hoping it will be quite spritely actually. If not, we can put some CALB 130s in the same slots and do very well. But I think the TS will work well.

    We’ve bought almost all of our Thundersky cells from Elite Power Solutions.

    Jack Rickard

  7. IsnĀ“n 30kW a bit too much for this small car. Italian Smart conversion has only 15kW EVE motor and still goes 65 mph. Or are you gonna make some kind of dragster? The laziest Smart cdi has 130 Nm of torque

  8. As to the power. I actually orderd teh 15kw unit and the Italian Smart conversion guys talked me into 30kw. That’s what they’re going to. The Speedster uses a 50kw rig and weighs 2032 lbs finished. The Smart is nearly 1800 lbs as it stands and I think we’ll be lucky to be under 2000 lbs.

    It doesn’t need to drive like a Porsche. But it doesnt’ need to feel like a golf cart either.

    In any event, we’ve had a very interesting conversation with a very respected Chinese motor manufacturer about a RADICAL change in direction on the Smart. It isn’t entirely firm at this point but we are talking design talk over the next two weeks. I think it would be very exciting, and more than a little risky. But these guys know motors as well as anyone I know. So I’m pretty excited.

    Jack Rickard

  9. This is really an interesting little car. I think ALL the shortcomings of this vehicle wrap up into a single entity – drive train. I don’t like the 3 banger and this transmission is just very nearly comical. Replacing it with an electric drive system may just be what this car needs more than anything.

    We may have stumbled onto something here – as usual, by accident.

    Jack Rickard

  10. Jack, I’m a new Smart owner in St. Louis & I found this project from a post at

    This is really exciting news! But one question arose, is this going to be a $25K car or a $25K conversion?

    BTW, there was an EV Smart entered in the auto-X prize ( Maybe they can be an additional resource.

    Anyway, I’m really looking to forward to this project. Best of luck.

  11. “We may have stumbled onto something here – as usual, by accident.”

    Jack, Following the Smart from 1996 onwards I have posted a German video about the original Smart that was designed as an EV with in-wheel motors by mister Hayek from Swatch. Mercedes-Benz basically turned it into a fun mobile and Hayek abandoned the project.

    Nice history article on wiki as well:

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