EleCobra – The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of The Feet.

Sadly and painfully behind on my blogging duties, it is probably poor form to attempt a remedy with one massive update. But we do what we can. We HAVE been a bit busy with the roundup of the EleCobra prototype for Aptima Motors.

Recall, if you will, that I was vaguely disappointed in our performance at the local airstrip with the EleCobra. As it turns out, justifiably so. I’m pleased to report that we had quite a bit stronger car in the box than was immediately evident.

The week before last we took the EleCobra to Slingblade Performance in Anna Illinois to do some dynamometer testing on their Dynojet system. The results there were also disappointing. But we mounted a video camera behind the car and shot the actual gages up close while the acceleration tests were performed.

On return, I did something so gruesome I scarce recommend it. I exported the Winpep data in 100 msec chunks. We shoot our video at 29.97 frames per second and so 1/10th of a second corresponds to 3 frames of video. And so I loaded the videos and cycled through the runs 3 frames at a time, noting amps, volts, temperature,s etc from every gage on the dash, three fluke meters, and the Netgain Warp Drive Interface Module.

This is beyond watching paint dry. It’s self abuse.

But it did pay off. We could note, for example, that not only were we NOT getting the calculated power, but apparently we weren’t asking for it. The throttle input never exceeded 80% command.

[jwplayer file=”news111111 – iPhone.mov” hd.file=”news111111-1280.mov” image=”http://media3.ev-tv.me/news111111.jpg” streamer=”rtmp://s3einxnpkaij93.cloudfront.net/cfx/st/” provider=”rtmp” html5_file=”http://media3.ev-tv.me/news111111 – iPhone.mov” download_file=”http://media3.ev-tv.me/news111111-1280.mov”]

Recall that we had struggled with a type 23 error reported on the Netgain Warp Drive Industrial. Mr. Bohm was prompt in providing us with a firmware upgrade on the controller. Better, the process of updating firmware was actually pleasant. Mr. Bohm sent us an e-mail with an attached file. We pulled the tiny SD micro card from the interface module and mounted it in an SD card adapter, and plugged it into a desktop computer. We could then copy the file onto the card.

We then reversed the process, inserting the card into the Interface Module. A simple menu item allows you to update the firmware to the controller, and in fact you can even update the firmware in the Interface Module itself if need be. The entire process from e-mail to updated controller was probably not eight minutes.

The Interface Module is a very handy way to set configuration items on the controller, but there really aren’t very many. You get motor amps and volts limits, in forward and reverse. You can clear errors, and read errors. There’s a “frame leak” option. And not very much else.

But you CAN select your throttle type. You don’t get to change much on it, but you can select it. Our throttle is the LOKAR PEDAL the last option on the list. We believe when we updated the firmware we reverted to the default, CTS which is the FIRST item on the list.

So we were running the car error 23 free finally, but with the WRONG pedal. This had the unfortunate effect of lopping off the top 20% of our available power.

The scary thing about all that is that without all this testing, we never would have known. We would have been vaguely disappointed in the Netgain 11HV, the Warp Drive Industrial, and the EleCobra. But it ran well, and we could have gone for years. As a first prototype, we would compare it to WHAT? What SHOULD the power have been? My napkin scratch?

The central issue with one-off custom cars and prototypes is you never KNOW when you are done. Now that we’ve found the pedal issue, is there MORE things we are missing? More tricks that could this dramatically improve performance?

Our zero to sixty time dropped from 6.8 seconds, which isn’t as good as Speedster Redux, to 5.8 seconds – making it the fastest car on our lot. That’s a 14.7% improvement. What ELSE is in the car that will give me another 10% say? Scarey thought.

This week, we returned to Slingblade and things got better.

You can also see the results in the graphs below and I’ll include a link to the actual elecobra.xlsx EXCEL FILE for the Cobra so you can see the data. There’s actually a LOT more data in the file than we graphed and you might find some of it quite interesting.

I’m going to hear howls from the Dan Friedricksons and other lesser intellects on the disparity between the data from the fluke meters and the Xantrex and the Interface Module. Here’s a clue. Each device has a different “sample rate” and we are snapshotting the numbers in 1/10th second slices. If you slide the numbers, they’re all good, just not in precise line in all cases.





Since we insisted on publishing everything we did on the EleCobra, Aptima Motors, which has plenty of secret plans, has avoided making us privy to all of them for obvious reasons. But Bryan ANderson claims they have already put two additional chassis into work. They are going to integrate the battery boxes a little bit better into the new frame. And they are going to do a carbon fiber body for the vehicle. Bryan believes he can slice 400 lbs certainly, and potentially as much as 500 lbs from our 2961 curb weight. With a 5.8 second zero to sixty now, imagine the improvement with a 17% weight decrease. This should also have a dramatic impact on our 120 mile range. And I think he mentioned they are going to sell these cars completely finished at $85,000.

What I found very surprising was a rather significant level of interest from his EXISTING customer base of Cobra owners in the project.

I didn’t have any doubt at any point that we could make the car roll forward using batteries and a motor. Frankly, no miracle there. Really anyone CAN do this. If you want to take an existing car and make it drive on batteries, the stuff is there.

Naturally, we wanted to do it with new and interesting components to make it interesting video. But my concern from the beginning was that the resulting car be “Cobra-like”. And I struggle to define what I mean by that. Obviously it would be a new and different thing powered by LiFePo4 cells and a magnetic motor. But could it be done incorporating the feel and mystique and sense of this car, which has such a history and such a community of enthusiasts who so deeply feel the Cobra gestaltd?

Bryan Anderson claims to have built 2700 chassis in 25 years, the majority of which are Cobras. He seems to think so.

Our mission was to take an existing car as it was and convert it to a working prototype electric drive car. In this particular adventure, the loop is continued. Now Mr. Anderson can take what we’ve done, and go BACK to the beginning of the process. By making some fairly dramatic changes to the chassis, he can take off weight and do a MUCH improved positioning of the battery cells. With carbon fiber, he can lighten the body and if he dares, alter the front end to eliminate the aerodynamically perverse open front face of the car – vastly improving the admittedly poor aerodynamics of this particular model.

There are some more refined improvements available as well. If you are disappointed with our horsepower numbers, you probably ill understand what horsepower is. Our torque was very good, but it WAS a little constrained to the lower end of the RPM band – limiting somewhat the HP number you read on the dynamometer. Horsepower is an expression of radial torque RPM corrected. Simply increasing the voltage 20 volts would widen that RPM band substantially. By incorporating the boxes more integrally into the chassis, that is a very possible improvement.

We were at that under 500 ft lbs of torque. The Tremek TK600 transmission is the big guy in that line and rated for 600 ft-lbs. On reflection, it is POSSIBLE that a lighter, lower friction T45 or even T5 transmission MIGHT make the grade – decreasing our drivetrain friction losses as well as overall weight. The same can be said of the entire rear differential and axle assembly.

The production costs of the EleCobra are simply too high to be a viable vehicle in my estimation. But Aptima is intent on it and at $85,000 it would certainly be an interesting offering. With the changes outlined above, this would truly be a performance car by any measure, and I can say the view from the cockpit did grow on me over the course of this project. It will be very interesting to see this develop.

Meanwhile, we’re back on the Elescalade and a couple of new projects. As described in the second video, we are taking a close look at Factory Five Racing’s 818 World Car concepts. This is a two seat mid engine spyder sports car using the universally and globally available Suburu parts in either left OR right hand drive. David Smith intends to reach a younger customer base with this and enhance his already notable export business – he calls it a “World Car.” Better, he is looking to a $9900 kit car price with a completed vehicle possible at a smooth $15,000.

This is very attractive. We can’t make it electric and stay within $15,000. But an electric version of this modern, very aerodynamic and lightweight (818 refers to kilograms wet) could be very attractive at $25,000 or even $27,000 all in. If we could find a suitably NEW and interesting motor and controller combination, and perhaps a suitably new and exciting battery architecture to match, this could be the ultimate kit build electric car at a price more of our viewership can afford than say, the Elescalade.

I guess the question we would have is should we go for max range/performance or attempt a dramatic price breakthrough on such a build? Viewer thoughts on this would be welcome.

Jack Rickard


112 thoughts on “EleCobra – The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of The Feet.”

  1. Hey Jack,
    It seems so glaringly obvious to me what needs to be done to improve the performance of the EV Cobra.
    Overdrive the motor with a planetary gear set of approximately 1 to 2 before the flywheel.
    It works like this..the maximum horsepower of 167 horsepower @ 2650 r.p.m. now is 167 horsepower @ 5300 r.p.m. with half of the torque.
    Automotive transmissions are geared designed for lesser torque and roughly 6,000 r.p.m. between shifts.
    Although with this overdrive to the flywheel gearing, there will be additional costs and additional friction loss,
    but cost and friction losses will be gained on the other end by having a drive train that is designed for half of the torque capacity with the associated lighter weight and less cost of the drive train components.
    The most noticeable result is now first gear becomes usable on a conversion using a series wound dc motor.
    Mark Yormark

  2. How about balance and refinement as the goals for the FF818. To wit:

    I suggest a Soliton Jr. with a Kostov 220V 9″ motor. Batteries are an even 100 Sinopoly 66Ah cells, for a nominal 21kWh pack at 396 lbs. The Kostov is lighter than a Warp 9, and the Soliton Jr is just about right. Limit the motor volts to 220, and you’ll never sag the pack to the motor voltage.

    See if Valery is ready for prime time with his charger, which hopefully has the DC-DC converter option in it. The liquid cooled prototype on DIYelectriccar looks to be working nicely.

    I know you don’t like being that for out into alpha product projects, but for my viewing pleasure, I like to see you work out first combinations and try brand new stuff. You’re better equipped than anyone else to do that, and we all benefit- especially the manufacturers, painful as it may seem to be them.

    FF and their 818 is a great choice. They have the resources, and hopefully interest, to make some of those design changes NOW. Get with FF, now and send them the dimensions of your cells and motor. Maybe two different sizes of each. They have the chassis in solidworks, why wait for the first conversion to tweak the frame tubes to fit the batteries and motor into the chassis? Also request that they make a full undertray for the body, EV-only with no accommodation for exhaust or cooling. If they do than, and close up the front with an EV-only bumper cap, this would be the best and simplest EV glider of all time.

    Anyway, balance and design elegance is what I’m looking for in your builds now. You’ve done everything else. The 818 at 2200lbs, with a 143kW powertrain, 21kWh pack and Level 2 charger would be delightful.

  3. My proposed pouch battery container:

    2-part closed pourable polyurethane foam. You’re going to need to experiment, because I’ve used this once and its hard to control, but its featherweight, (2lbs/sq ft) insulates, absorbs shock, won’t conduct or degrade, and if you put it together right, you could break the pack apart with your bare hands if you wanted the cells out of it.

    You could make a form for the grouping of cells that you want, (or that fits the space you have,) line it with plastic sheet (food wrap, in order to keep the foam from sticking to the form) wrap the cells completely in the food wrap, place with appropriate (thin foam sheet) dividers or just spacers between the cells if you want, and introduce the foam to pot it all together.

    That’s the tricky part, because the foam expansion and placement is hard to control, but I think its worth a try. Maybe there are tricks to the liquip 2 part foam I didn’t know, or an injector or something to make it more controllable.

    When cured (in seconds,) cut the food wrap away from the terminals, clean up the outer shape as necessary, and Bob’s your uncle. Keep in mind, most foams are not UV stable, so maybe use black plastic to line the forms, and forget about those clear battery box covers.

    Even more interesting would be to line the car’s battery boxes with plastic, after adding a thin floor of heavier plastic and some webbing straps (to give you something to pull on to get them out later,) arrange the cells in the box as desired and pot the whole thing with the foam. You don’t even have to do it all in one foam batch. If you did it in sections with a few dividers and sets of lifting straps, you’d have a lot of flexibility getting a few out later.

    Seems like a no-brainer…

  4. Mark, I don’t think overdrive is the obvious conclusion from the test data.

    What’s clear to me is that the car just doesn’t need 4 speeds. Two would be enough, but what exact ratios would be best aren’t really apparent from the dyno, which shows none of the aero drag you’d see on the road.

    What makes sense to me would be a low gear (with the final drive figured in) a little deeper (lower numerically) than the current second, and a high a little shallower (higher numerically) than 4th it has now.

    Jerico makes just such a racing two-speed transmission, with reverse; its stronger than this motor needs, and it weighs only 52 lbs.

    Adding an OD would make 5 more speeds in a car that’s already carrying too many around…

  5. Tom,
    EV’s power delivery is very much like a supercharged diesel. Why look further with the brakes, gearing, torque handling etc.
    You wish to fit over 242 litres of batteries into this go-kart? That wont happen. 🙂

    Maybe suggest a lower voltage and <20Kg motor (or two when required) for little sag. Jacks got a spare Lynch motor... Every extra 100lb is another 10WH/mile consumption and more excess luggage to haul.

    Running only ~22 cells (~72V) one can make up cheap 72V car lighting with series lit LED’s saving on more DC-DC conversion which costs electricity storage.

    The less weight goes in, the less power needed to drive it.

    Bolting a floor pan under the car? Maybe go nuts, Jack the ride height 3″ and install all the cells’s flat underside sandwiched between glassfibre honeycomb board. hehe.

  6. If you build it, they will show up.

    So far no one has been able to convince track day guys(guys who drive their car to the track and race),that BEVs are viable for the track. Certainly the Tesla is not because of it’s price and poor weight balance, etc.

    This looks like the ticket for a BEV track car: How about a car with about a 200 miles distance with a removable box of batteries to get the weigh down and with enought power in the remaining battery box to run 30 minute sprints between charges? Nissan is making a #10,000 quick charger unit now that could be used between races to refuel the car.

    If you want to see the BEV business light off, offer this as an option. Track cars don’t need to be lux cars on the inside. Nissan has introduced a track car version of the 370Z; perhaps you can get some ideas of their thinking behind the car.

  7. One of the issues with the large diameter motors is the tendency to make lots of torque per amp, but then not enough rpm per volt. With the long range EVs made possible with Lithium the higher continuous rating of these larger motors is needed, but a power curve can be troublesome.

    To make the power band more suitable on the Cobra perhaps Net Gain could take one turn out of each field winding. This will reduce the torque by moving the power band up the rpm range.

    If you choose to do a Factory Five 818 car I would like to see a build not based around the longest possible range. I would like to see something that could go 60 miles but do it with style. A car with respectable performance and an eye to simplicity and beauty so the owner would want to open it all up at a car show (the kind dominated by gas powered hot rods.)

  8. Andy:

    The Sinopoly 66Ah batteries are 34mm by 140mm by 213, so 100 of them are a little over 101 litres, not 242. Shouldn’t be a hard volume to find, where the fuel tank coming out is probably 40+ litres on the INSIDE, the engine’s top end, cooling and exhaust systems are at least that much volume or more, and even the original battery is more than 7 litres.

    A very small high output motor wouldn’t be a good choice for a one ton road car. It would likely overheat, or at a minimum require extreme cooling measures. On balance, the 100lb Kostov motor is worth the weight.

    The belly pan is a no-brainer. It weighs next to nothing. Its the single most beneficial aero mod for most bodies, and it would keep the whole car cleaner and quieter inside and out. The EV-only smooth blunt nose is also an easy call.

    Let’s hope the shape of the 818 is more of an efficient aerodynamic design than an edgy design statement that’s crap in the wind tunnel and needs spoilers and spats just to counteract the lift it generates at speed…

  9. Sorry Tom, my fault, I weighed up 100AH cells. I’m not sure so many 66AH cells could be accommodated either. Seriously! The higher the C rating from the controller the greater the V drop and the quicker the too many cells stress and die. Why not have more amps and less Volts if its not going to be raced off road but enjoys the odd drag at the lights.

    The fuel tank will be up front and 40 litres?? Its a Sunday car for the track. 143″ long, and 66″ wide and a 95″ wheel base. As they say, “a go-kart” with a flat six engine that’s a little bit longer than an exige.

    As an EV its not going to beat the WRX boys so why try? Jacks done fast, now time for clever?

    Yes! 100% belly pan with cells. 😉 Keep the weight in the middle.

  10. Oh yes Tom, check the specs on the 10KW continuous BLDC Golden motor. Liquid cooling is an option, the revs go very high so first gear IS an option, it weighs 17Kg, makes up to 80Nm and is very compact indeed to allow more room. It is so cheap with its controller you can double up and beat the Kostov/Soltiton on all counts.

  11. Hi Stan, The motor has been around a good while now. Look on left pane and click on “Electric car kit” and scroll down, prices are there in dollars.


    Not much on the net from owners. A Russian guy has wired one up to play with and put it on youtube. Also a small company in Bradford, England makes a large quadricycle running these.

  12. Options are good, more options are better. I think the option of a lower priced conversion is brilliant, and having access to a kit car that can facilitate that could prove to be a real catalyst for the conversion movement. I don’t think anyone would dispute how great the Porsche replicas are, or how terrific the Cobra conversion turned out. But the truth of the matter is that there are far more people that can afford a $30,000 conversion than a $60,000 one. Having access to a stylish, well built roller for $9K is going to open the door to just that many more people who want to attempt a conversion.

    Of course, there are plenty of nice chassis available for less than $9K, and there are a number of great conversions that have been completed using a good variety of them. Just look at the EV Album. But none of them offers the flexibility, or the blank slate that a kit car does.

    Jack and Brian have done a wide range of conversions, from elegant old Porsches, to a practical Mini, and now soon, an over the top Escallade. Each has been an exercise in what CAN be done and very little expense has been spared during either of the builds. We’ve all learned a great deal from their efforts. I would propose that there is also something to be learned in tackling a project in which the primary goal is to build a great quality EV with a watchful eye on the final cost. If I remember correctly, that’s what the Smart Car was supposed to be before the project was put on the shelf.

    In any case, if the goal of this movement is to get people in their garage, converting cars and consequently getting more people into EV seats, a cheaper kit car can’t be anything but good for the bottom line.

  13. Andy,
    I can’t get GM China to respond to emails and none of their dealers in the USA seems to carry the motor. I think there might be a reason that there isn’t much info from owners on the internet.

    I just sent an email to GM Canada… maybe they want to make a sale.

  14. Hi Stan,
    Most importers simply sell wheelchair motors or “magic pie” hub motors for cycles. Nobody carries the motor if what they normally sell is the above.
    As goes a reply.. Maybe you’ll have to wait a couple of days?

    Golden motor have a full bodied forum yet this is only fed information from time to time. They are not great conversationalists. Questions are often covered here.


  15. How did this get into selling pancake motors. That is for DIY not here.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

    Can’t wait to see the Cobra in all it new paint. I can’t imagine using exhaust pipes on an electric vehicle. Maybe something but not exhaust pipes. Nice information from SlingBlade. Nice work Jack with all that work building the graphs. That alone is a grand undertaking.

    Hard impacts can damage pouch cells even if the casing around the cell is not visibly damaged. My computer cells got damaged from a fall but the battery pack received no initial damage. Batteries began to swell. If left unchecked it could have caused a fire. I believe the Volt and Leaf cells are pouch style cells. For sure not LiFePO4 cells. For sure not LiFePO4 Pouch cells either. So, yes the impact test could result in a fire days later.

  16. Sorry Pete,
    I had no mind about taking this over. But you are wrong about DIY. By definition thats what EVTV is about. I’m sure this motor (or two) would be a fun, cheap choice for this fun, cheap Sunday vehicle.

  17. Andyj,

    Hijacking for the sales of motors is not for here. It belongs at DIY because that’s what many do there.

    This is Jacks blog about Jacks doings and we get the privilege of joining in and learning something.

    I am not wrong about DIY.

  18. Nobody was selling anything but an idea. Another guy came over with issues where I attempted to help him as I would help you if you had that need. Must say his problem seemed intriguing.

    Why would I be “selling” something I’ve no financial interest in? Did I not say Jack has a Lynch motor and didn’t Jack put it to us to give suggestions how this car should go?

    Your opinion on selling and DiyEV. I’ve never joined it but weren’t you flogging a home brew controller or something on there?
    Pan, pot and black.

  19. I do not think Tom Alvery understands the basic concept of over-driving the motor 1 to 2 before the flywheel. It will not add another gear or speed to the transmission.
    Instead it will fill the difference between the ratios in the transmission with continuous torque to maximum horsepower.
    Actually, more speeds of a transmission the better for acceleration, (discounting the time it takes to shift gears) if the the torque multiplication of the transmission individual ratios can be optimized. Acceleration is multiplied torque at speed. Here is a good website for testing these gear combinations in relation to motor speeds and motor speeds at m.p.h. http://xse.com/leres/bin/gearratio?title=SS+%23670+with+MM6+manual+and+3.73+gears&rpm=2630&mph=120&gear1=2.97&gear2=2.07&gear3=1.43&gear4=1.00&gear5=0.71&gear6=0.57&reverse=3.28&axle=3.42&diameter=26.85&circumference=84.37&revs=751&tire=wheel&section=285&profile=35&wheel=19
    Copy and paste this into your address bar, and then play away changing the values. I find this website to be an excellent tool in designing drive trains.
    Let me go further in my assertion, If the maximum horsepower of the motor is at 2630 r.p.m. there is no reason to run the motor any faster, instead that is the time to upshift to the next level of torque multiplication.

  20. It’s fine to discuss options and I’m always open to new motor/hardware. I do have a Lynch motor. I doubt I would consider it for the 818.

    Tom Alvarey may not understand what you’re getting at overdriving the motor before the transmission. I’m dead certain I don’t understand it. But I guess I’m not real keen on picturing it either. Suggestion noted. But not of sufficient interest to try to figure out what you’re saying.


  21. the factory five 818 is interesting especially in combination with a cheap light but super powerful A123 pack.
    it seems the 818 design is not yet decided despite the competition ending in july. they are still debating.
    the one I like the best (Whetstone Targa) and looks to have the best aero wasn’t even featured in the video. just a glimpse in the corner.
    they are voting http://thefactoryfiveforum.com/showthread.php?4125-Vote-for-one-design.
    if enough of us vote for the Whetstone I think we can take it : )

    as to whether it should be budget or performance I say both. that’s the strength with electric drive. once you have A123 for thundersky money you can have a supercar that doesn’t cost much more. a cheap tesla roadster beater is an appealing notion.

  22. The chassis design is pretty much a done deal. The body design really doesn’t matter much . The more aerodynamic, the better but the kids like lots of angles and surfaces, which isn’t that good. But it will still be fairly aero I would think.




    The beauty of an electric car is you get to pick TWO Andy. Not all three.

    Jack Rickard

  23. Jack, it seems to me that a project such as Lee Hart is doing here: http://www.sunrise-ev.com/ is what would be the most beneficial way to advancing the adoption of electric cars. Since his ideas somewhat parallel yours, maybe you should contact him and see if you guys could work together.

    From the Sunrise EV2 website:

    “Welcome! We are a group of dedicated electric vehicle enthusiasts whose goal is to create an affordable, high performance electric kit car that anyone of modest skill can assemble. The Sunrise EV2 is a four-passenger pure electric sports sedan, designed to meet all the safety, performance, and comfort requirements of a modern state-of-the-art automobile.”

    “The original Sunrise was designed by Solectria Corp. using the Hypercar principles of Amory Lovins. It achieved remarkable efficiency and range, through the use of lightweight construction, innovative design, and superb aerodynamics. Unfortunately, only a handful were produced”.
    “Our goal is to make the Sunrise EV2 as modular and open source as possible; like a PC clone, where many different parts can be used, from many different vendors. We’ll provide the basic “box”. Builders can then use any motor, controller, batteries, charger, interior, and instrumentation they like. Depending on your budget and performance requirements, your Sunrise can be AC or DC, lead-acid or lithium batteries, etc.”

    Thanks for your show!!


  24. CZTREE The Gear Vender option is a gear box between the transmission and the differential, either it runs is one to one and shifts to .78 to one, but it depends on which direction you orient it overdrives or underdrives.
    What I am suggesting is a fixed overdrive gear box between the motor and the flywheel. Gear Vendors…http://www.lencoracing.com/LENCODrivelinecomponentsMasterPage.html
    Makes a planetary gear reduction box box which can be ran in the backwards position for over-driving. They also make custom shafts for your application. There are also several other companies that make a fixed planetary gearbox for over-driving the motor.

  25. Just watched this weeks show. I like the concept of the 818 build, although if I found those body designs in my bed I’d burn the mattress.

    I suggest you build two of them side by side: one an all out top of the range (maybe AC or BLDC) example, and a second which is budget-limited.

  26. The Sunrise EV. The project is absolutely moribund. Nothing has happened in ages. If you ask Lee it is quite active behind the scenes but nothing ever happens. No money for the build I gather.

    Tried to talk Lee into coming to the convention and speaking this year, considered him and Sunrise as our nominee in the contest, I just can’t get him to play ball at all. Always about no money. And he has a deeply held suspicion of anything with commercial interests.

    In the BBS and ISP world we called these guys “fuzzy” people. Usually bearded and impossible to pin down on anything, they generally advocate free everything and no cash flow for anyone. BBS’s should be free, etc. etc.

    Open source Sunrise was a good idea and even better back when it was announced. It didn’t happen.

    Generally, from nothing comes nothing.


  27. Brake line lock. I don’t even know. We got probably two or maybe three from Summit Racing mostly I think. They’re all under $100. And all are basically identical solenoids. YOu shop for the DASH switch you want.

    Jack Rickard

  28. 1400 amps. We saw 1400 amps occasionally and briefly on the self reported Netgain interface module as motor amps. Never did translate to battery amps, even briefly, and even at 100% duty cycle. We did about 1260 peak I think that we could catch it in the act as far as battery amps.

    I have advised Ryan Bohm that it is more like a 1300 amp controller in my view.

    That yet being what it is, it’s a solid 25% more power than a Soliton1 – at least at peak. We quickly get voltage constrained on the 11HV as the RPM picks up.

    Winds up a nice package. Netgain Warp 11HV and Netgain Warp Drive. A little stronger than a Soliton 1 and Netgain 11 and probably better yet at a higher voltage. I would like to see this package at 280 v instead of 230.

    Jack Rickard

  29. Mark:

    Your understanding of Lenco transmissions is apparently from reading their website.

    First, the planetaries in a Lenco are sprag-based, and will not spin backwards. No way.

    Second, they do make an accessory reduction fixed gearset (in a nice little housing) that is available up to 0.56:1, and it can be reversed to provide the approximately 2 to 1 overdrive you want. Its expensive, but its light and strong. I disagree that the Cobra needs it, but if you want a fixed 2:1 gearset, there’s your unit.

    Third, Lenco doesn’t really make the custom shafts. They refer you to one of their application partner shops, and it gets (even more) expensive in a hurry. Really. Call them, they are very happy to work through the issues if you are serious.

    Fourth, there’s an efficiency problem with the Lenco- it takes a relatively high amount of power to spin. There’s also the shifter packaging problem, unless you use the air shifting actuators, in which case you exchange the packaging problem of the levers for the need to carry and refill the compressed air supply.

    Drag racers know all this, and some favor more traditional gearboxes for that reason. The Jerico is the best of that class- very light, strong, and with a unique and tough synchro set that might make clutchless operation very nice, but of course someone has to try that and not guess about it having read the website or talked to Jerry.

    I love the Lenco and think its really a great package for a heavier rear drive EV. Look up the Blakely Bernardi kit car recently completed using the ST (street series) Lenco 2-speed transmission, evalbum #3953. The builder and owner also discussed the transmission and final drive selection with me and others at DIY. I think the rear axle in that car is 25% too deep, but its always something of a guess putting it together, and its an expensive thing to make ratio changes to the driveline.

    The bottom line is, even though the broad EV powerband makes it much easier, getting the transmission right matters a lot, especially in driving perception and satisfaction. One of the things guys love about old Alfa-Romeos is that despite their modest power, the cars always seem to have the right gear in the right range for the motor under the conditions that you’re driving it.

    Its a simple idea, but its remarkably difficult to get there…

  30. Having mostly cleaned out fifty years worth of leaky British car sludge from the e-Bugeye in the course of conversion, the idea of starting with a clean slate is really attractive. I did build a kit car some years ago, a Daytona MiGi (MG TD replica on a VW pan) and am generally leery of the structural integrity after that experience. It was basically a collection of fiberglass parts moving down the road more or less in formation. It was fun to watch the front fenders oscillate independently at about 60 mph. The Beck rollers clearly don’t suffer from that and it appears the 818 would be similar with its CAD designed tube frame structure.

    I agree with Jack on the body design – they are all covered in creases and planes that won’t age well. They’ll look pretty dated in short order where a simpler curved form like the Porsches and yes, the Sprite, are classic and will remain so. Being an old guy, I would vote for Range and Price as my two out of three. Looking forward to the project and thinking I may do my own in parallel.

    By the way, the Brits were way ahead of the ecology movement when they designed oil leaks into their engines – simply returning the oil to the earth from whence it came!

  31. Hi Jack. I read all your port, but didn’t read all the comments so I don’t know if anyone already said this. Since you ask, I will give my opinion. Since you already tried the ultimate range car, and the ultimate performance car, I think the ultimate price breakthrough car would be an excellent test and something that lot’s could give a try since price is still a problem to some of us.
    As usual, many thanks for all the info you provide.

    Helder Pereira

  32. Jack,

    Price, Performance, Range, pick any two? It seems to me that to really do any of these you end up sacrificing the others. Performance in particular! The EleCobra would have been faster and lighter if the range requirement wasn’t important. You would have used something like the A123 pouch cells or the Haiyin cells to improve the power to weight. This would seem to exclude both price and range. If you choose Range you do pretty much what you did and stuff as many batteries as practical in the car. The battery choice would have been something with a higher WH/liter rating. You would probably have used an AC system to get the extra efficiency and regen. So going for range seems to mostly exclude price and performance. And going for price, I really don’t know how to do that without making something that you can’t really do as more than a one off because it uses as many used components as possible. And most likely so many compromises that you don’t get either range or performance.

    So to do it right it really is Performance, Price, or Range. Pick one.

    I think your choices for the EleCobra were all good ones given the design goals. Job well done!

    My vote for the FF818 would be to go for a quality build where the cost was really the important thing. My initial reaction was a Tesla performance beater. Maybe do both and go through the design choices showing why each decision was made. A 60mi/100km performance version and a 60mi/100km low cost version. I don’t see range as an issue if you can do an honest 60 miles for 3000 cycles. Or put it to a viewer vote with a web voting thing. You have a while before the kit will be available and the Escalade will keep you busy until then.

    Doug Ingraham

  33. Jack, looking thru the information on the line locks at Summit, all of them say not to use it for a parking brake, most say for short term only, and one says for 60 seconds max. It appears that they all use a solenoid that has to stay energized to lock the brake. Does the one you use stay energized the entire time you have it engaged? If so, how much power is it using, and have you seen any issues with the solenoid heating up?

  34. I love Jack’s stuff. I have watched, and read it all. At bottom, I think he agrees, less is more.

    My ’56 MGA was the most fun car I ever owned. Cobras and ‘vettes are just a big hammer to drive a tack. People are 50-100 kilos.

    Ollie Kuttner has expressed interest in doing a kit. He has offended almost as many people as Jack. 🙂


    He might even be running that GM motor. This is what I want to build in my garage.


  35. Tom Alvery you are correct in saying that the Lenco transmission has a sprag clutch and cannot run backwards, but I am not recommending this 2-speed gear box.
    In fact you make several good points so I am copying and pasting from your previous post to comment on your statements in upper case…

    Second, they do make an accessory reduction fixed gearset (in a nice little housing) that is available up to 0.56:1, and it can be reversed to provide the approximately 2 to 1 overdrive you want. Its expensive, but its light and strong.

    Third, Lenco doesn’t really make the custom shafts. They refer you to one of their application partner shops, and it gets (even more) expensive in a hurry. Really. Call them, they are very happy to work through the issues if you are serious.

    Fourth, there’s an efficiency problem with the Lenco- it takes a relatively high amount of power to spin. There’s also the shifter packaging problem, unless you use the air shifting actuators, in which case you exchange the packaging problem of the levers for the need to carry and refill the compressed air supply.

    Drag racers know all this, and some favor more traditional gearboxes for that reason. The Jerico is the best of that class- very light, strong, and with a unique and tough synchro set that might make clutchless operation very nice, but of course someone has to try that and not guess about it having read the website or talked to Jerry.

    I love the Lenco and think its really a great package for a heavier rear drive EV. Look up the Blakely Bernardi kit car recently completed using the ST (street series) Lenco 2-speed transmission, evalbum #3953. The builder and owner also discussed the transmission and final drive selection with me and others at DIY. I think the rear axle in that car is 25% too deep,
    but its always something of a guess putting it together, and its an expensive thing to make ratio changes to the driveline.

    The bottom line is, even though the broad EV powerband makes it much easier, getting the transmission right matters a lot, especially in driving perception and satisfaction.
    One of the things guys love about old Alfa-Romeos is that despite their modest power, the cars always seem to have the right gear in the right range for the motor under the conditions that you’re driving it.

    Its a simple idea, but its remarkably difficult to get there..

  36. Andyj, Thanks for the link. Very cool – a guy named “Friend Wood” builds a Mahogany car. It’s a beauty, with the front end reminiscent of the early Marcos cars that were made out of plywood.

    Would be neat to see how it would perform in the Cape Girardeau Soapbox Derby … er, coast-down test. Great to know that the mother country maintains its automotive eccentricity!

  37. Continuing the theme of doing two 818s side by side, this would be my suggestion for the low cost one:

    * 45 x 40 Ah cells and a 9″ Kostov.
    * 63 kg of batteries
    * 45 kg for the motor.

    If the original motor weighs something north of 150 kg you would end up with electric version being lighter than the petrol. Battery cost around $2400, motor $1700. The motor and used bodyshell should fetch $1000 or so.

    Using your usual rule of thumb for a 1700 lb car; say 170 w hr/mile works out to close to the average US daily drive of 33 miles or so

  38. John Hardy:

    The 40Ah cells are going to be pretty thoroughly stressed above their 5C rating at anything above 200 amps. That’s why I spec’d 66Ah cells, and put enough of them in the car that the Soliton Jr can only hit them with about 450 battery amps (because it can do 650 motor amps, which I would limit to 220V motor voltage, which would wind up as about 450 battery amps on a 100 cell pack at 320V nominal) so even under heavy sag, they’re never going to see 10C, and probably no more than 8.5C worst case. Moreover, a 150Amp continuous highway cruise would draw (assuming 10% voltage sag) about 2C of discharge- very livable.

    A 144V pack of 40Ah cells, even in such a light car, is going to see 12C with a 500 Amp controller with some regularity. It looks even worse with 25% voltage sag. I think that’s just too high a drain. Worse, the same mundane, now 200Amp highway cruise- (higher amps at 144V than the above 220V configuration, but the same power) would be over 7C continuous discharge, even with no voltage sag…

    The 40Ah prismatic cells just aren’t big enough for the car, unless you have a ton of ’em and can keep the discharge rate down somehow.

  39. “Preliminary conclusions from the investigation into a Mooresville, North Carolina, house fire that destroyed a Chevrolet Volt indicate the fire did not start in the vehicle, but elsewhere, and progressed to engulf the electric car.

    Iredell County chief deputy fire marshal Garland Cloer told GreenCarReports in an exclusive interview that, “the source of ignition seems to be from outside the area of the vehicles.”

  40. I would have to agree Tom. I’ve got a little EV with a pack of 32, 60 amp hour Thunder Sky cells and they work hard. I wouldn’t go smaller and my EV only weighs 1100 lb. In fact, I would go bigger for a demonstration build, perhaps 40, 100 amp hour cells.

    That is still a small pack, but has the voltage needed to get decent rpm from the smaller common EV motors like the ADC 8 or Impulse 9. It should have the amp hours needed to get a 50 mile range in a small car. It would hopefully be capable of applying 80 horsepower at the motor shaft, which would be pleasant in an 1800 lb. car (818 kg.) It would also be a small pack which would assist in highlighting the simplicity of an EV in a flashy kit car.

  41. Mark Y:

    We are in violent agreement about the importance of proper gearing for EVs. By all means build what you want, but remember these typical, actual EV operational characteristics in your planning:

    With correct ratios, street cars really need only 2 forward speeds, especially the DC ones. 3 speeds makes for a really fast EV, or compensates for an underpowered one.

    Most EVs operate largely in ONE gear up to a decent cruise, and then another for sustained (or faster) cruising.

  42. Kostov 220v 9″ 45kg
    Soliton Junior ?kg
    80*60 ah cells (my pick is calb but perhaps cheaper choice) ~15 kWh ~140kg

    To maintain 220v @ 20% sag = 264v. This works out to 80 cells @ 3.3v each. Depending on cell (or cells in parallel chosen) would give your max battery amps.

  43. In regards to cheap A123 cells on market. I’ve done some internet research and have found the following.

    You can buy supposedly genuine 20ah cells for $65 a piece. (don’t know quantity discounts).

    You can buy secondary supplies ranging from $17 to $40. This gets you cells that are ex-testing or reject cells due to low ah or high ir. The cells may have no tabs or short tabs. Cells may also have superficial surface damage.

    The secondary supplies come and go as available so the brave may get the goods but buyer beware.

    So prices are coming down, last time I looked genuine was $85 and secondary $50 but I don’t get the impression that the secondary supply pipeline is huge.

  44. FYI The Factory Five 818 is going to have 3 or more body styles.

    The first will probably be a roadster.
    Then there will be a coupe with a top of some kind and also a highly aerodynamic version for hypermiling.

    The chasis will be shared as much as possible.

    I would be happy doing a fast EV with either the coupe or the aero versions. Anything with a top.

    Body selection is underway now. The public can still submit designs, even if the competition is over.

    Check http://thefactoryfiveforum.com/forumdisplay.php?28-Factory-Five-s-Next-Design

  45. Jack I can imagine it’s disappointing Lee wasn’t more excited to be in your giveaway contest and speak at your convention. Lee has earned money as an EV consultant, and sells EV parts, and says he hopes to sell the Sunrise some day, so he certainly has commercial interests of his own. Perhaps there is another reason why Lee wasn’t more excited to be part of your exciting EV world.

    Jack Rickard said…

    The Sunrise EV. The project is absolutely moribund. Nothing has happened in ages. If you ask Lee it is quite active behind the scenes but nothing ever happens. No money for the build I gather.

    Tried to talk Lee into coming to the convention and speaking this year, considered him and Sunrise as our nominee in the contest, I just can’t get him to play ball at all. Always about no money. And he has a deeply held suspicion of anything with commercial interests.

    In the BBS and ISP world we called these guys “fuzzy” people. Usually bearded and impossible to pin down on anything, they generally advocate free everything and no cash flow for anyone. BBS’s should be free, etc. etc.

    Open source Sunrise was a good idea and even better back when it was announced. It didn’t happen.

    Generally, from nothing comes nothing.

    November 16, 2011 1:50 AM

  46. I really like your idea of using the Factory five 818 kit and combine it with an EV kit + a few donor parts of some mainstream car to offer a low budget DIY EV car. It is awsome.

    You asked the viewers what they think the focus should be on. In my opinion it should be mainly on economics but with a maximum speed capability of about 120 km/h (74 mph) OR at a little lower speeds a range of about 100 km, and no lead acid batteries.

    That’s the same I am focussing on with my current project, a ‘low’ cost motorcycle conversion. The only reason I chose the motorcycle is because all parts are cheaper, but in the future I, as a non-mechanic, would definitely buy such a product.

  47. A123’s: 20ah cells for $65
    or 100AH for $325. That’s triple the price of their peers.

    Buying enough for a tyre scrubber is fine but it’s placing itself badly in competition with lipo’s here. I’m doubting its good enough for the aero guys working on a price base to get their money back.

    You can easily save on the weight difference by using BLDC motor(s), its what they use on aircraft because of the superior power/weight ratio. A German lad has re-wired a standard washing m/c motor into a 30KW jobbie for a motorised glider. Lets make two and stack ’em!

    No Peter, the motor I lauded is NOT a pancake.

    Another thing, if you read the *standard discharge* rates for LiFePo4 cells, they specify 0.3C. Think about it. When the V sags enough, Li plating will increase, shortening cell life.

    High capacity cells with a lower voltage supply in turn saves a huge sum of money on electronics too.

    So my take is an aero 818 with BLDC and say, 200AH cells; enough to cover the national speed limit. Doing a lot of miles on the dirt cheap while looking good. >:-))

  48. I haven’t seen any BLDC motors available at reasonable prices with such superior power to weight ratios that they would in any way compensate for battery weight differences between A123 and TS/CALB. If you know if some please post links, no washing machine motors allowed either.

  49. The problem with BLDC motors is the same as AC induction motors ,there are very few options on controllers of any power. Right now we have the Curtis 1238. Everything else is quite expensive, and in most cases not very well tested out and mature. We’re still struggling with basic features on the Rinehart Motion Systems Controller at $7500.

    The A123 cells are looking better. I just bought 36 and with shipping and Paypal fees they arrived at $36 each. They were actually priced at $30 and they are quoting $23.80 in quantity. They purpprt now to be .495 kg each. So 10 of them would be 4.95 kg for 200 Ah. I think we are at 5.6kg with the prismatics. BUT you have to come up with some sort of module for them, and I expect the density advantage to disappear entirely in packaging.

    They DO sag somewhat less under load. And so a 100 Ah pack would be able to provide sufficient power to run a car in spritely fashion. That is really the only advantage.

    The cost and weight and size of your module could certainly be an issue.

    Jack Rickard

  50. AndyJ,

    No they are not pancake but darn close. Close enough for me to say so in my previous post.

    Nice hand built wooden car too. Love the smooth lines. Slick as a babies bottom.


    If my pack is full is there a problem sagging my cells to lets say 2.5 volts per cell or is the problem of sag when the pack nears empty in regards to ruining a cell due to lithium plating?

    AndyJ, you have not emailed me yet?

  51. Just had a news story here in Sacramento about the danger of electric cars being heavier and more dangerous in a wreck and that the likely hood of a pedestrian vs a quiet electric car/hybrid is back. It just rang so untrue. I sent the news station a pointed email. Zero Pedestrian vs Electric car accidents and thousands of pedestrian vs noisy gas cars. So it is not about the quiet car. It is about not paying attention. Period. Each time this comes out it is one more push to stop electric. I told them if you had done proper investigating on both sides of the story there would not have been a story.

  52. 6 minute recharge of 40% of the pack is also an advantage of A123. and my pack design would increase the weight advantage of A123, not erode it. series chains with folded tabs and lightly parallelled:

    that pack would be 330V40Ah, 100kg, 500 ponies and 100km range for a lean car (like the 818). price 5k$

    an A123 pack could make the cobra a 2 second car instead of 5.8. thunderskys keep us from realizing the EV’s performance potential which is a powerful tool for taking over the world.

  53. Peter,
    By the very use of the definition, a pancake motor drives on the sides.
    Those BLDC that ARE pancake; I’m not keen on their lack of design over weatherproofing.

    If a German lad can make a cheap second hand washing machine motor wired up and modded to power a real aircraft to produce 40HP constant… I wonder what it cost him to have these ~40(?) coils re-wound and a drum hub made? Not much. By the way, I’ve already posted links (above) and been accused of selling stuff.

    However, at those prices Its not AC (or DC) expensive. They are at the expensive of being a little coggy when setting off. Which stops blind pedestrians, politicians and the idiotic media from crossing the road at the wrong time. Damn!

    Most big motors carry very high inductances which is a bad thing on many counts and they also require high voltages to attain power at high rpm: I technically wish to avoid all this. So I will.

    And finally Jack, A123, at those prices? I’ll back down. Maybe A123’s could be used to keep the vehicle light enough for hypermilers at the price you stated. Weight is everything. Low volume helps a lot but I would not be keen on assembling lots of ickky tabs with big adjacent currents so I’m out.

    Separators? Suggest 4mm correx every several cells if used under high loads. You don’t drive air through *your other* cells do you? 😉

  54. AndyJ

    *****No Peter, the motor I lauded is NOT a pancake.*****
    *****Those BLDC that ARE pancake**********************

    Well make up your mind.

    *******By the very use of the definition, a pancake motor drives on the sides.***********

    Actually it is very subjective. So I can turn my huge motor sideways and I will then have a pancake motor. 🙂

    Done with this one.

    Pete 🙂

  55. @Tom: yes take your point about 40 Ah cells (although I’ve ridden in a car that used them, albeit at higher voltage).

    I think my main suggestion for a budget build is cheap, light, just enough range to commute to work and and just enough performance keep up with the traffic.

  56. Went by our local GM dealer and on the heels of all dealers being able to sell off the Demo Volts, the Volt that has been on display for the past year is now gone and so are all the small cars. There is nothing but HUGE SUVs and TRUCKS surrounding the dealer. So much for GM selling small fuel efficient vehicles. I did not have my camera available today or I would have taken a photo of what it looks like around our dealership. Really, nothing but huge vehicles. Not a single small car in sight. Not a one.

    Pete 🙂

  57. Noted Peter, Is it only the UK or have others noted fuel prices have come down a little? Crude prices haven’t dropped.

    I feel deja vue each time when we win each of these oil wars. Sensible cars seem to be sold off and guzzlers fill the courts. Could be sales based on perceived psychology.

    Then the fuel prices will go up again so they play people for their money.

    Somewhat different for sales in the UK due to high fuel tax stress.

    Tell me if you think I’m flat wrong.

  58. Throwing in my 2 cents on the 818… I’d go economy. As light as the car will be, see just how much distance you can squeeze out of an AC-50/Curtis setup with a minimum of batteries. Ramped 50% regen on coast, 100% regen on the brake switch.

  59. Oh, and just to spice things up, try using a Honda Insight CVT instead of the WRX transmission. Should save some space and weight, give you infinite gearing and the convenience of an automatic (without the idling headache).

  60. @ Dr. Righteous, I like your idea of an A-C 50 wCVT transmission.

    Jack, would you be interested in a little graph or whiteboard showing the relative progress of battery technology so we could get an idea of how soon a “super” lithium battery with 10 times the current capacity and one tenth the charge time might be actually on the market? (This is as you say unobtainium now)Link is below.


    and the paper:


    regards JMS

  61. I’d be interested in that too, but re “…one tenth the charge time…” is this not primarily an issue for the charging infrastructure and equipment? As far as the batteries are concerned twenty minute charge times appear to be on offer already.

  62. Mark:

    These stories are always interesting, but barely. The journalists usually get them a little hosed up.

    Carbon anodes, which is what everybody but Altain Nano uses now does pair 6 carbon atoms with each lithium cation. Yes, a single silcon atom can host 4 lithium cations. But any advance on the anode side has to be matched by a similar advance on the cathode side or it doesn’t matter at all. AThat said, silicon anodes are an area of strong interest.

    The graph you want I cannot draw. And I know of no one who can. The reason is this isn’t about battery technology, it is about you and how willing you are to pay for batteries.

    There is a LOT of battery science laying around. Up to this point, there hasn’t been ANY demonstrated MARKET for such batteries. And so while a few continue to plug away, understanding that better batteries are the key to almost everything, the market for the cells has been essentially non existent. And largely remains so now.

    The cell phone battery market is huge but also hugely cost conscious and very much a commodity market. It went from disruptive technology to commodity in months.

    And so with much accumulated university battery research, funding to do the engineering and productization has been non-existent. Better now. And so we are seeing movement as it gains oxygen.

    Jack Rickard

  63. @Mark Schooley

    Thanks. I keep building EVs in my head. By the time I can actually afford to do my own conversion, I’ll have my 2010 Insight paid off and can just convert it. I figure I’m already used to driving the car with regen, might as well keep that feature. And since IMA works well with the CVT, it’s not a stretch to think it would work just as well AC powered.

  64. Actually ,the common wisdom is that Moore’s law does not apply to battery chemistry, and a much more modest 8% annual improvement in cell density will occur.

    I myself would demur. I rather think Moore’s law will apply to battery chemistry. Moore’s law is largely driven by demand and the ability to derive huge rewards for innovations – serial incremental innovations. I think once it is established that you can derive rewarding cash flows from improved battery chemistries, Moore’s law will very much be in play. Doubling each two years is not preposterous in this area.

    But from my perspective, it is about thresholds of viability. The jump from 30 mile range to 80 mile range represented by the availability of LiFePo4 cells is our largest. IF the next jump allowed us to move from 80 to 300, it would not carry the same level of significance and perceived value.

    This is because most of us drive 35 or 40 miles per day. Occasionally 60. A 25-30 mile per charge lead sled doesn’t really fill our needs as a car. But 80 does with a bit of margin. If the 80 will ACTUALLY do 100 on occasion with no real harm, we’re in the 99% range on population and daily use.

    Moving then from 80 miles to 300 miles is a big welcome jump. We will ALWAYS want more. But it really won’t change anything. Now you’ll charge every two or three days. And a trip from here to St. Louis and back (250 miles round trip) would more or less work. This already IS next gen. – Tesla Model S circa 2012.

    In practice, your daily 35 to 40 miles will be a smaller percentage of max range and so the cells last longer. And there is that trip to the lake or the airport that comes up five or six times per year that works. But that’s about the impact.

    Beyond that, what differential would you pay? If you had a 300 mile electric car at $40,000, would you pay $50,000 to have a 400 mile range variant? You might, if you just didn’t know anything about living with an electric car. But someone knowledgeable this would be a difficult cell. And so the rewards start to shrink for better chemistry.

    Incrementally, you can see a day with a 1000 mile range, but who needs 1000 mile range? And that’s a LOT of energy to charge. We would probably more likely go to SMALLER, lighter battery packs and stay at 300-400 miles, but reduce size and weight of packs instead.

    And for longer trips, it is really simply a matter of improvements to fast charge. Fast charge already works. The batteries already do it. ANd now they have 150 ChaDEmo chargers in Tokyo and they do work. Nissan has now announced availability of the hardware for less than $10G. This is NOW with 20,000 lithium powered cars IN THE WORLD – out of a billion.

    ANY penetration leads to an almost trivial effort at fast charge between cities. Again, you don’t need to do this as much as you think. But the INABILITY to do it quickly drops away almost IMMEDIATELY. 300 miles still takes five or six hours to drive. A thirty minute stop doesn’t amount to anything after six hours behind the wheel. It’s about the time you would take to have a cup of tea and use the restroom.

  65. So from my point of view, the generally cited disadvantages of electric cars don’t even exist. Oh, I guess they do, but only on a trivial time ramp that is about the period you would own ONE car. By the time of your second electric car, it actually doesn’t matter.

    ALL of the barriers have to do with public acceptance. People will generally give up their HOUSE before their car. It’s the second largest investment in life and we actually “wear” it several times per day. Our very identity is wrapped up in it. The acculturation to this change is going to be traumatic in approach, even if it is celebratory for everyone involved in accomplishment.

    Realities are that they are still cars and DO require maintenance. With new components and drivetrains component failures will actually be MORE common for awhile until they mature. And so the no maintenance myth will notn last long.

    The size and safety issue is actually more for an issue. People like Denali’s and Caddilac’s and feel and ARE safer in them. Electrics will be more easily accomplished at the Prius size level and will lead to lighter weight builds. The perception of safety will be reduced and comfort as well.

    So there ARE issues with electric cars. They just are not the ones discussed – fires, range, charge time. Range and charge time ALREADY matter very little to actual owners beyond responding to the inevitable question.

    Jack Rickard

  66. EV’s have two real problems in the eyes of the public, price and range, both directly related to batteries. Since I bought my SE/CALB cells over two years ago they have not improved their specific energy density or their price at all. My 100 amp hour cells came in between 110-114 amp hours actual and weighed 3.2kg, and cost me $1.05 per amp hour. They actually cost more now. There is no Moore’s law for batteries. There will be steady improvements with an occasional larger advancement but specific energy density will not double every 18 months, we certainly have not seen anything like that yet. I would be quite happy to be proven wrong of course.
    The jump to an affordable 300 miles of range is actually more important than from 30 to 80 miles because that puts it in the comfort zone of the general public. Affordable 150 and then 200 mile ranges will bring in more and more along the way, I think critical mass hits around 200 miles at $30K or so. As you say, all the barriers have to do with public acceptance and the general public won’t accept an 80 mile EV that costs $35K.

  67. More muddled thinking from the anonymous MR. JP. How did your last blog entry work out?

    You and I already apparently handled the barrier. Since you have ONE data point, CALB, and one purchase, two years ago, you’re pretty much precluded from the experiential end of the Moore’s law discussion. My comments were more directed toward the future than the past, as a market for such batteries develops and motivation to enter and innovate picks up.

    I think the public “perception” of electric cars does improve at 300 rather than 80, but the reality of driving one does not to nearly the degree it does from 30 to 80.

    Those who had cars at 30 will recognize the improvement at 80. They will also recognize a further improvement at 300. But the second improvement will simply not have the juice or excitement of the first because it didn’t deliver that much additional utility. That perceived improvement will again decline on further improvements to the point it will bring up the question, at what price? Where will your willingness to pay cease to drive improvement.

    And I think that will rather quickly fold in on itself and start driving smaller lighter battery packs instead of longer ranges beyond somewhere in the 400 to 500 mile range.

    You could probably put a 100 gallon gas tank in an Escalade or pickup truck now, but what would you pay for such? You wouldn’t have to fill up as often. During the gasoline crisis in San Diego in 1978 everyone was installing these. Almost unheard of now. I just don’t need 1000 mile range. I’d rather use the space/weight for other things.


  68. This was a very enjoyable and upbeat show: proud papas with the e-Cobra delivery. My populist tinctured viewer vote is for an EVTV range and cost optimized something, be it an 818 or ? I don’t see the need for speed. On the other hand, if you could take the 818 and soup it up to compete with a Veyron for 1/30th the price, that would be a real attention getter. I worry the 818s in the video have not been aerodynamically vetted. Seems like a troubling hodgepodge of high drag scoops and fins. You asked for other conversion suggestions.
    Lexus SC430 Was this car designed so individuals could converse in normal tones with the top down at 60mph?
    Or have your kit car friend pull a mold on a
    1954 Ferrari 250 Europa GT [back to luxe] or a super-low cD
    GM EV-1 or just choose a stock Volkswagen beetle or a Toyota Scion or whatever and crowd source streamlining modifications and optimize for range and cost with a nice cruising speed–not talking neighborhood vehicle. I think it would be cool if you’d consider building a two or three wheel vehicle with recumbent type seating, think Japanese SuMo [SuperMotor] bike or tadpole architecture Morgan.

    I think you might like this presentation, Jack:

    Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty

    replace “(dot)” with “.”


  69. JP, there is not such thing as “general public”.
    People are just very different.

    Women? – I think they will have a big role in EV revolutionk, it’s only a matter of time.
    They don’t drive far. They hate the smell of petrol and fumes. They don’t like engine roar. They like new products 🙂 And in the moment one woman will show a brand new electric cars to her five best friends, they will put a huge pressure on their husbands to get one too.

    Billion people in Asia living in the cities? – they don’t drive far, they don’t drive fast, their small cars are the only one you can find a parking place for. Problem: they don’t have garages or even private parking place. So maybe battery swapping is not that stupid for them…

    Taxi drivers? Delivery van drivers? You name it.

  70. Most women and taxi drivers are also not going to be comfortable with an 80 mile range for $35K, nor will the general public. Of course everyone has their specific point on a graph that tracks price and range, for most people it will not be 80 miles for $35K.

  71. “How did your last blog entry work out?”

    Quite well if you’re referring to my discussion of electrolyte, as I proved my point using references you helped provide. Thank you.

    How does my single battery purchase preclude me from Moore’s law discussion? Does buying only a single computer in two years preclude me from being aware of the improvement in processing power and price? Of course not. For whatever reason LiFePO4 prismatics that we buy have not advanced much if at all in over two years now. If someone has tested a 100 ah cell that holds more than 110-114 ah’s actual and/or weighs less than 3.2 kg and is cheaper than what I paid over two years ago I’d love to hear about it. The new grey cells from CALB actually have worse specs than the old blue ones.
    I agree with you that there is no need for 1000 mile range in any vehicle and that at some point, probably around 300 miles, packs will just get smaller and cheaper. However we are not seeing much improvement in the Chinese prismatics. Wasn’t it about a year ago you could get a 200ah cell in the 160ah form factor from TS, and now you can’t? Your new CALB 180’s tested out around the same capacity as older ones even though the specs claimed they were higher didn’t they? I don’t even see a hint of Moore’s law in sight.

  72. I’ve always held suspicions about Moores law being used to steady the upgrade path purely for commercial reasons.
    Reading through the comments on the 818 there are guys who would like to see another sports car, mostly with AC (Another new car on same old ground).
    Others would like a light, cheap aero that may or not have many batteries for distance against price/performance. A third way would be to try equipment not covered before so we can compare viability.

    So how about something like the 818 (or two if that good) purely as a test bed? A hint to the manufacturers for locating the cells between the wheels for best handling low CofG and safety and keep everything modular. It would be great to be able to do all the electrics on a board(s) before fitting into the car.

  73. obviously there is no doubling of energy density every two years. JP is of course right about that and you are wrong Jack.
    but even a moderate percentage growth every year adds up. and that does seem to happen. not from the rather stagnant thundersky family though.
    8% is a doubling every 10 years.

    I’d agree that the change from 40km range to 120km is more significant than to 400 because with quick charge you can do roughly everything you need with 120km range. but I also think it’s true we need to go to 200+km range for the less devoted crowd to join in willingly. I don’t think we need 500km range to win the public though. that may be needed to get the tea party nitwits to simmer down a bit but that’s not a standard we should care about. once we have a network of fast chargers that can add 80km range to a 200km pack in 6 minutes, that can be sold to the public. A123 can do that. that’s only 4C charging.
    and efficient cars keep battery cost down.

    speaking of which, the price Jack quoted on A123 cells from victpower has been beaten by osnpower now. all the way down to 18$ per cell if you buy 2000 or 24$ for 100. oddly enough they have two tab lenghts, 1cm and 2.6cm. the longer costs 1$ more per cell.

    the 18$ price is 280$/kWh. that’s cheaper than the thundersky crowd. and this is the price from a reseller. A123 themselves may charge 250$/kWh or even less. that’s pretty huge.

  74. Lots to think about here.
    Jack, I have read that by the year 2020 battery technology would deliver the energy density of gasoline.

    I would be specifically interested in the graph of energy density per volume of space. i know you said you could not create such a graph but I cant help but ask for one anyway.

    on a light note my vote for a peoples car:


  75. Dan F., I think it’s 9 years to double at 8% growth, and Jack qualified with, “…My comments were more directed toward the future than the past, as a market for such batteries develops and motivation to enter and innovate picks up.” I think it would be a good bet that Jack knows as much or more about the batteries than the sum of all others posting here.

    ohm wrote: “JP, there is not such thing as “general public”. People are just very different.
    [women]…They hate the smell of petrol and fumes.”

    Not trying to pick a fight, but do you believe it is moth-to-flame manly to like benzene and all sorts of other carcinogenic baddies in gasoline, etc.? And talking monkeydom is really not as individuated as you might imagine: “Personicx segments U.S. households into one of 70 distinct clusters within 21 life stage groups. Where do you fall within the possible Personicx clusters?”
    replace “(dot)” with “.”

  76. Dan,
    $18 per 3.5WH 18650. I’m done. Off to buy an Escalade, its cheaper.

    18650’s are the only A123’s they have on osnpowers web pages. So what makes you think they stock A123 20AH cells? I wanna know.

    Their big boxes are a joke with tiny plastic 5amp screw terminals. Their discrete assemblies have BMS units taped to the sides of the cells like something they used to play pass the parcel with in a 1970’s Irish pub.

    When you die you will be handed to hell for being a devils disciple all these years. Consigned to spot welding little A123’s for ever and ever.

  77. 37 kwh in the space and weight of 1 gallon of gasoline by 2020? Not likely.

    A 250 lb pack that will drive a car 250 miles? Tough, but more likely.

    I was asked my opinion on MOore’s law applicabiility and gave it. Again, I have two juveniles in some sort of “Jack’s Wrong” chant . Ok, I’m wrong. Now if I can talk Dan and the anonymous MR. JP into taking that conversation BACK to JP’s anonymous blog. They need the traffic. We don’t.

    It’s an interesting notion as to how fast battery improvements will occur. We’ve got one guy enjoying the fruits of improvement, certain that there will never be any in the future because they haven’t changed at HIS house since his last purchase? And Dan, always reporting unobtanium and theoretical purchases of stuff that doesn’t exist, as proof that they HAVE improved, as proof that I’m “wrong again.”

    Err??? It’s an opinion kind of based on my 30 years of actively following technology AS my vocation in publishing. But it’s an opinion.

    Dan, what WAS your experience with your actual purchase of these cells at a supposedly much lower rate than I just mentioned. We’ve already been quoted $23.80 in 600 and now you want to one up it with a quote in quantity 2000? That’s not precisely apples and oranges, but what was your experience on receipt?

    Dan didn’t order any. I’m working on the video right now where I’ve already received mine and BURNED 10 of them up along with a good part of my battery lab.

    There’s carping. And there’s doing. Neither of you guys seem to know the difference between fantasy and doing.

    MY fantasy is a battery pack the size of a pack of cigarettes that will carry a car 1200 miles on a single charge, charge in eight seconds, and the battery pack AND the charge together are $1.28. If you don’t buy into it, you are WRONG and we CAUGHT YOU at being wrong, which is what we pretty much live for here at EVTV?????

    My point was that had I had such a cell, heretofore there has been little I could do raise money to productize it because there is little in the way of a proven market for the product – which would explain JP’s not getting any more range the longer he looks at his one battery pack????

    A little bit of a market is forming, not much, but something and as oxygen gets into the room, I think the actual developmental innovation, as contrasted with scientific innovation which HAS been going on, will increase.

    ANd my real point is that there are almost NO scientific advances required at all to achieve the goals you all are holding forth – it is almost entirely about productization of existing technologies. That’s good news and I’m very optimistic about it.

    The enthusiasm over electric drive vehicles IS already occuring, Your 35K 300 mile scenario is already coming unwound. People are learnign about the vehicles and they like them, even inveterate cyclinder heads like Bryan Anderson and Jay Leno. The 80 in reality is plenty. And it is a matter of experience altering perception. Not of perception confirming fantasy.

  78. Tom,
    I’d be utterly amazed if your link (graph) refers to secondary (rechargeable) cells.
    if you want I will send you a secret. It’s yours to patent if you would like the money. A self recharging LiFePo4 cell. Simply dope the electrolyte with a small amount of plutonium and the electrolyte will simply re-ionise itself forever!

    I’m still looking for a suitable spot welder you can fit inside the coffin.
    Oooerrr! Wondering if we will be treated with the nuclear bomb clip again?

  79. “I’m working on the video right now where I’ve already received mine and BURNED 10 of them up along with a good part of my battery lab.”

    I’m looking forward to learning about this experiment. Sorry this learning came at with a heavy price (from the sound of that.) A known reliable source for A123 20 AH pouch cells for $25 would be interesting. I could replace the 32, 60 amp hour TS cells with 132 A123 pouch cells (3P44S) and really up the game. Well, it looks like there is some user experience I would need to digest first, thanks Jack.

  80. “We’ve got one guy enjoying the fruits of improvement, certain that there will never be any in the future because they haven’t changed at HIS house since his last purchase? “

    Where did I say no future improvements? In fact what I actually said was this:

    “There will be steady improvements with an occasional larger advancement but specific energy density will not double every 18 months, we certainly have not seen anything like that yet. I would be quite happy to be proven wrong of course.”

    You seem stuck on the fact that I have one battery pack, as if that somehow precludes me, or anyone else, from reading available specs and talking to others who also have battery packs. I even watch your videos and see that you have a bunch of battery packs, many that you test for actual capacity. Unless I missed an episode, (I haven’t), I didn’t see any of them showing any large advancement in specs and reduction in price compared to my pack. As I said I do expect improvements and I do agree with you that improvements will accelerate with the added interest we are currently seeing. I just don’t think it will be anything like Moore’s Law, nor do any people actually involved in battery research that I know of.

    Finally, if this comment section is only reserved for those in agreement with you please post a sign stating as much. At my little, anonymous blog I have no problem with well reasoned counter points and discussion, but that’s me.

  81. JP:

    I’m permanently and always seriously annoyed by carpers and whiners who must remain anonymous in order to hurl their ongoing negative turd bombs into the pool. That would be YOU. At least Dan has an assumed name.

    Your blog has YOU on it last I checked, and since I checked ME. This was during your LAST attack mode. Yet apparently, like Dan you have become one of our most regular viewers.

    I can’t explain it. But I do NOT have to put up with it. You’re just not paying me enough.

    And I don’t mind putting my name to that.

    As to compromise Pete, the halfway point between true and false is precisely where? I say you’re wife’s pregnant and you insist not. Let’s split the difference? And how would I know?

    Especiallly if I were anonymous.

    Jack Rickard

  82. Wow! I have found this whole interchange to be very entertaining. Sixty responses must be some kind of record for Jack’s blog.
    I read the following:
    A123 themselves may charge 250$/kWh or even less. that’s pretty huge.
    Are those figures accurate?
    What kind of “C” rating are these A123 cells?
    I am assuming these are pouch cells.

  83. Jack,
    You seem obsessed with the “anonymous” nature of my blog yet the reality of my identity is irrelevant. The information therein stands on it’s own regardless of who I may be, just as your information must stand on it’s own be it posted by Jack Rickard or JR.
    I actually have had a few more commenters than yourself on occasion, but interestingly enough you visited my blog at least once before and my anonymity did not prevent you from expressing your agreement with me on that topic.
    Our identities are irrelevant, it’s the information we share that’s useful, including our opinions. Typing your name does not add any extra credibility to your data.

  84. Actially it does JP. In fact, I view any information from anonymous sources actually as NON information. It’s not so much as it is wrong, it actually isn’t any information at all. I have asked you to leave this blog if ;you want to be anonymous, and now I’m going to insist on it.

    Jack Rickard

    Consider the source

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