Spending Money Like Barrack Obama

“I spent a lot of it on fancy women, fast horses, bad cards, and old whiskey. The rest I just squandered. ” So goes the answer to the question “What did you do with your fortune?”

Probably a little too close to home for comfort. I’m pleased to report I’m about broke, and couldn’t be happier. A great deal of money is generally a great pain in the ass.

EVTV has been a great help in this regard. We started our show in May of 2009 and have worked hard at learning the vagaries of producing a weekly video instead of the more familiar monthly print magazine. I’m becoming fairly comfortable with the tools as they become more transparent. It’s been all outgo for the four years we’ve been doing it, although for the past year, we’ve had a little bit of ingo as well as many of viewers have turned to us as a source of components for their builds.

I confess, not my original idea. Sebastien Bourgois gets credit for that. In kind of a side bet, which I won, I demonstrated that I could sell more of his controllers than the adverting contract we were seeking was worth. I won. But along the way, we became a dealer for his controllers and after demonstrating it empirically, he was still kind of bent toward our continuing THAT model. This week we’re working furiously to get our web store updated with the very nice and shiny motor/transmission adapters he offers through ReBirth Auto. I talk about them all the time, so we decided to carry the whole line.

It was never a fair fight on the component end. Many of the webstore operators out there, and some of them with valid claims to decades of service, would get a little behind in their vendor payments, and wind up in a wierd rob Peter to pay Paul circle where they had to get NEW business in order to pay for equipment to send to people who had ordered earlier. This was a serious disservice to both the equipment vendors and end users as they would normally blame companies such as Netgain and EVnetics for inability to ship product timely. In truth, if you were a vendor who could PAY the invoice, they went out the next morning.

That was the GOOD end of it. The bad end was vendors who declared bankruptcy, kept the money, and any stock, and simply never filled the orders at all. That’s hard to swallow if you’ve just written a check for $16,000 worth of batteries and after waiting three months for them, learning they aren’t coming AT ALL — EVER.

We looked at a number of ways of addressing this, including an EVTV Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, a registry for logging complaints, and more. The problem is, the very WORST example of this, the James Morrison case, was a company I had ordered large from FOUR TIMES BEFORE and had excellent service and support from. In the end, they flat cheated 43 customers out of over $300,000 worth of components. So I realized early on we had no magic wand to determine the good from the evil. And the trust issue was actually having a chilling effect on build activity. No one wants to be the object of online fraud, but particularly in $10,000 and $15,000 increments.

The problem has a number of facets to it, but it tends to center on two main issues, irrecoverable funds and extremely long lead times from ordering to delivery – as long as 12 weeks sometimes in the case of batteries. Even companies that DO offer some protection, such as PayPal for example, have a 45 day limit on claims.

The obvious solution is to accept credit cards and Amazon payments and Paypal, and actually stock the stuff and ship it timely. The many problem companies out there in all fields would have you believe its just a part of the game, but it’s not at Amazon.com. It’s not at Summit Racing. It’s not at McMaster Carr. You enter an order there it is usually on your porch by the time you get up from the computer to check. So if those companies can do it, it CAN be DONE.

There are several problems inherent there. The stuff is expensive to stock, the margins are thin, and they are heavy and take up a lot of room. Worse, it’s kind of hard to tell what will sell quickly and what won’t sell at all. I’ve finally given away the last of my chrome fire extinguisher big idea. I had stocked a dozen of them I think because they were just gorgeous, refillable, came with a bracket, and of course I had actually stood helplessly by the eCobra on the freeway while the flames rose around me. We never sold a single one.

So it’s kind of a tough business. We’ve gradually expanded our line. In truth, we don’t stock everything. Netgain and HPEVS are so quick to ship, and of course the shipping being substantial to do it twice, that we mostly drop ship these days. By paying promptly, we are not having any difficulty getting these things out quite quickly. Batteries remain of course the issue. I’m STILL waiting on my shipment of the first 200 cells of the Liyuan NMC cells. An order of chargers is typically six weeks. Etc. etc.

But despite a kind of huge investment in inventory that makes profitability a remote possibility in about twelve years, the monthly sales have grown dramatically. The community has indeed responded with almost a sigh of relief that they can actually order things and have them delivered timely. We’re still working on the part about getting the right things in the right box the first time. All too often, we send your order out very quickly, the problem being its just someone else’s order.

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And our little pile here has grown to about a million dollars worth of parts and batteries on the floor. I guess that represents the part of the fortune I just squandered.

But along the way, another side of effect of all this came about. We have kind of formed the first nexus or point of sale where an equipment developer can find a corner to get a handle on the small guys who buy such equipment. We’re moving enough of it to at least matter. Our relationship with our battery suppliers has grown firmer, though they remain resistant to cutting our prices. They just don’t have the margin to work with in the first place. But people are now coming to us with products and opportunities seeking a wedge into this market of small players.

Siemens kind of watched with interest as we disposed of a handful of their motors, and finally came around that we were probably the best opportunity to dispose of the remaining 100 motors with the odd Azure Dynamics shaft configuration. That kind of came to a head in the past week.

I am VERY pleased with the feel and performance and power and acceleration and cooling on the VW THING. Really my first opportunity to use this motor in anger that wasn’t actually IN the AZD van – which has a single gear drive train. It works well there, and I’m pleased to report it works even BETTER with four gears to pick from. SO I was inclined toward picking up the remaining 100 motors. It’s a lot of inventory. But it’s a lot of motor. And it’s not like peanut butter with a “sell-by” date. As we come across better inverters to drive them, they should improve with age soemwhat like whiskey.

The experiment in group grope development with the Generalized Electric Vehicle Control Unit has been enormously successful. With NO help from Siemens or from any of the people who could easily have helped us with this little control problem, we can now drive the vehicle in very pleasant fashion. There is lots of software yet to write, and we are still a month or two away from finalizing the hardware and getting even a small quantity of it on the street, but I can tell you how it all shakes out.

And so last week we launched a slightly different approach to developing an EVTV BMS/Instrumentation system. We’ll see how that goes but I would expect it to be very well received. We have several members of the original GEVCU team checking out the spec and measuring and gaging at the moment and so I expect several entries.

And we are kind of shaping up as junkyard to the EV stars as numerous OEMs that these companies were so desperately courting have gone bankrupt. We did a deal this week for 20 CODA automobiles. These are brand new, fully functional cars that lack batteries. The liquidator has tested each car with one about six battery packs they have, and then moved the pack to the next car to test it.
2012-coda-sedan
What captured our attention was the UQM (Unique Motors) PowerPhase 100 motor and inverter in each of the beasts. They also havea 6.5:1 ratio eGearDrive, an electric air conditioning compressor, two Lear 3.3kw chargers, a PTC heater system, a DC-DC converter, LED lights, and so forth. It will be kind of a saddening task to line up 19 cars and a pile of new cardboard boxes and intentionally disassemble them into boxed components for resale. But if we put batteries in them we’d have over $20K in a nice little electric car, with no warranty, no service, no parts source …. sell it for what?$24K???? Leaf’s are available for that nearly enough with hundreds of dealers, long warranties, endless repair facilities. It’s impossible. This thing can’t be a car.

But it CAN be a motor and inverter. At 100kw it’s hardly even a match for the Siemens and DMOC645. But it’s shiny. It’s small. It’s permanent magnet. And they’re cool. UQM is still asking $15,000 for one -despite the fact that they LOST/WROTE DOWN $3.8 million selling them to Coda for less than $5K each.

My hope is to write an object in GEVCU to operate the UQM inverter just like the DMOC645. Would you believe UQM actually requires a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) from their CUSTOMERS to sell them a motor? We don’t do NDA’s if anyone wonders. We’re a publication. But we’ll put ONE of the Codas together and sniff the CAN bus for motor control messages from the VCU. I’ve already purchased a kit of software and connectors from one of the once “dealers” for the car. Wanna bet I can work all this out? And then we’ll OUT UQM essentially.

powerphase2

UQM_Inverter

Between the two, it’s been an ugly week of writing checks much larger than I like to into a market that has thus far not ever offered a profitable day. But I can kind of envision a day when individual builders have access to equipment of the same quality as Tesla or GM or anyone else to build electric cars. And while the finances are grim now, Summit Racing or Jeggs either one are $100 million operations catering to a fairly narrow group of custom car and racing enthusiasts. We intend to be the same for the electric version of all that.

If you watch today’s show, maybe a little past the closing credits, we have some of Richard’s Blair Witch project of EVTV at the River City Rodders show from last weekend. About 285 custom hot rods and collector restorations at this year’s event. And guess where the center of attention was focused all day? You got it. The future of all of this IS electric cars. It’s the new, and exciting thing on the horizon for those people. And the questions we received were ENTIRELY different. All about how to do the conversion and component costs. I never heard SQUAT about range or recharge times all day. We’ve crossed the mark there.

Other EV builders have reported the same thing. Odd man curiosity at auto shows six months ago. Today – star of the show. Center of attention. We’ve crossed some sort of threshold here.

Just as I was moving money around to cover these two largish purchases, Ed Miller showed up to pick up 24 CA60FI cells for his electric motorcyle project. Ed has retired to a farm in Arkansas and has installed solar and lives entirely off grid down there. But along the way, he has hooked up with a significant Oklahoma based Solar Installation company. As it so happens, I have JUST recently completed a new white membrane rubber roof on our facility here in Cape Girardeau. AND the very generous AmerenUE rebate program, of $2 per installed DC watt, is being phased out and decreases to $1.50 on 1 January 2014. Ed showed up at just the right moment, to try to pitch his very first SALE for the company. He did such a good job, he walked away with about half of a 24,400 watt photovoltaic installation check. I have sekert plans once this is up and running on doing a number of shows on how to tap home solar, charge batteries with it, in some cases very quickly, and also explore how to use a vehicle to power your house in case of outage. It’s all a little more complicated than it should be. And it should make good video of us screwing it up several times on the way to making it work over the coming year.

Back to component sales and instant gratification. I can tell you the exact sale that caused it. We had a call from Switzerland some months ago from someone who needed an eGearDrive RIGHT NOW. I think we had it priced at $2995 but he wanted a shipping quote to get it in three days. It was nearly $2500. I ruefully reported it. He still wanted to make the purchase. THEN he got to pay 20% VAT on it. I was enraged. Actually I didn’t even want to sell it to him. It was a ridiculous situation.

Anne Kloopenborg decided he wanted to be EVTV in Amsterdam. The only way that would work would be for somebody to pay to put down about $100 grand in parts and battery inventory, otherwise there was no way to deliver timely in EVTV fashion and I was loathe to have it otherwise. Remarkably, for once it wasn’t ME that had to pay that. He ponied up. And is currently delivering battery cells, motors, controllers, and oddities from Ireland to Russia and all points in between and usually getting them there within a few days.

This week Michael Schooley of the UK paid us a visit and made the same case that the UK is a different currency, and that battery shipping restrictions are going in all over Europe as well. And that we really should have an EVTV.uk. We’re listening, and if this young man decodes that we listen more carefully in decimal, I think this may work out as well. it’s the same hot button, you have to kind of BECOME part of EVTV, stock a LOT of stuff so you can fix people quickly, and service the sale.

This kind of works in a lot of directions. As we develop product, Anne and Michael have access to it. But I don’t see anything particularly peculiar about demand for a boat motor adapter in Amsterdam. We would be inclined to stock a couple here in Missouri. And so our EVTV affiliates, not only get the brand, but also the sales channel to the other EVTV affiliates.

I had predicted the COLLAPSE of distribution networks in the 1990’s as a result of the Internet. And here I am building one? Well here’s what I had not foreseen. EXTREMELY variable and complicated shipping geography, and a new geography based on taxes, custom duties, and currencies. Many European shoppers buy components in the U.S. and batteries from China. By learning the ins and outs of this new geography, we should be able to deliver components LESS expensively in Europe than they can by importing themselves direct from the manufacturer. We already have the largest stock of CALB batteries IN Europe. Much more in fact, than CALB itself.

And one of EVTV.eu’s boat conversions wound up LEADING the Solar Boat Parade in Amsterdam. I don’t think it sports a single photovoltaic cell. But it sure is pretty. The star of the show.

So rapidly emerging market, and rapidly changing as well. And for the end builder, the good news is you don’t HAVE to build your own electric car to have one. They sell them now. But I dont’ see any diminishment in activity. Now you can build one because you want to and you can – not because you have to. And hopefully with ever better components going forward. The only thing I see diminishing in teh custom car/hot rod/show car/racing scene is a rapidly diminishing market for Ford V8 crate engines.

Did you know the original Karmann Ghia sported a 46 HP motor and did a blazing 0-60 in 18 seconds? News to me. Let’s see how the Brain gets on with an HPEVS AC75.

Stay with us.

Jack Rickard

61 thoughts on “Spending Money Like Barrack Obama”

  1. Jack,

    Glade to see your going to try one of the Hughes Performance torque converters in the Escalade, I have been dying to know how they will work. I keep going back and fourth on my conversion trying plan for manual or automatic transmission. My car is already automatic and would need a new converter, likely a Hughes, but it can be converted to manual as part of the swap but that would be a more costly operation. I am sure the manual transmission would increase battery range.

    As for starting to move some DMOC’s or Siemens motors I think a functioning GEVCU will accelerate the inventory turns. Since you have the investment in the Kvaser would you consider a “flash my DMOC” store item for “in the wild” DMOC 645’s? for a flat fee say the cost of the Kvaser? as you know I picked up my Siemens, DMOC, and Brusa direct from the auction, which for me is a pretty big investment just to be sitting on. I have the ccshell software and flash firmware but for a flat fee I might just let someone more experienced do it with the proper cables and CAN adapter at hand! Some of us are very interested in EV’s but can’t afford to pay much in stupid tax so one mistake and we could sink the project.

    I have know about the AmerenUE solar program for some time and figured you were already up to speed on it, sorry! The company I work for in my 2nd job which does solar and wind installations has been very busy between Tennessee & Kentucky now moving into Wisconsin, Missouri & Iowa. Tennessee Valley Authority has had a very aggressive feed-in-tariff, this coupled with some tobacco settlement grants available to farmers has kept us busy for over a year, we have installed a megawatt in the Louisville area. Don’t forget about your 30% federal tax credit on the solar good until 2016, if EVTV makes and money this year apply for the tax credit and get that back, if not it carries forward until used up. You also can use Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) + Bonus Depreciation – Deduct 50% of ITC value from sale price and multiply result by tax bracket. See your accountant for specific details on your project as depreciation schedules vary. Just to throw a number out there we would be around $3.25/3.50 and installed watt for a systems that size which would include the latest Enphase micro inverters and US made panels. It would be less for string inverters and import panels. I think heard your wrote a $40K check for half so IMO that is good number site unseen.

    1. This is $2.60 per watt installed. We get a $2 rebate from AmerenUE and yes, a 30% tax credit but I guess we have to pay taxes on the rebate so I’m not sure where that leaves us. It’s no news. I announced the AmerenUE program a couple of years ago when it was first adopted. The “news” is we have a new white membrane roof completed and the $2 deadline is December 31st this year. Edwin showed up at a curious moment.

      We won’t be using the enphase. I want DC in the room with me for some other purposes which I’m sure you can imagine. Once the system is in and signed off and rebated, there will be a series of videos on how to make perhaps better use of it than generally known. That is for EV guys.

      The situation on the DMOC645’s and Siemens motors is I have about 40 customers out there who have bought from us on a bet we can make GEVCU work and that that will make THEIR investment in a drive train real. Yes, you saved a couple of bucks short term. But we are just not going to have the hardware and resources to support the out in the wild hardware and really just don’t have any motivation to do so. I’m sure you can hunt most of that stuff down and get her done. Particularly with the open software and forums and so forth. But EVTV is going to have to pedal hard just to catch up the ones that have actually invested quite a LOT in these motors and inverters. And until that is done, I don’t see going to herculean efforts to support the other systems rattling around on eBay. There are several guys holding hardware in the hopes that it becomes much more valuable after WE do all the work. I actually caught one guy in the UK promising support and information with a LINK in his eBay ad to documents on our web site. It’s hard to imagine but it is quite real. Bottom feeders know no shame apparently.

      Sometimes, it’s just better to be part of the club Anthony.

      Jack

    2. Well, sounds like Jack doesn’t want to support the Ebay stuff out in the wild. That’s understandable. Actually, I’m one of the people trying to sell DMOCs on ebay but I seem to be the most expensive currently. The thing is, I’m in the position to provide support for them; I don’t expect Jack or anyone else to have to provide support for things I’ve sold. Of course, it sure would go a long way toward my willingness to help if someone bought the thing from me. However, I’m also perfectly willing to reflash and update the parameters on anyone’s DMOC. I don’t care if you bought it from me or not. Of course, it won’t be free. Somebody does have to be available to help people, even those who saved money by buying it on Ebay or directly at the AZD auction or where ever. But, it is a tough situation for people like Jack and me because we’d like to see some actual positive cash flow so it isn’t terribly fun when someone who obviously knows nothing about the controller sells it for $1000 and then hopes that the buyer will find support elsewhere. This search for support inevitably leads people to one of two places. Both of these places sell the controller for more money but actually know something about it. My hope is that these people will be led to purchase GEVCU units and thus end up paying for support anyway. That’s the goal anyway…

      1. That works out pretty well. They can send them to YOU then to deal with. I’m simply saying we’re not going to inconvenience the guys who have bought from us already to handle the bottom feeders who are desperate to save a buck. In the long run, they don’t save much actually particularly on something like this. My experience is that those guys are also the loudest complainers, the most problems, etc. We’ll cede them all to you Collin. You can have them.

        Thrift is certainly a virtue. But it’s possible to be what I call “too tricky by half” and I see this all the time. In the not very long run it is not really less expensive. The GEVCU is a big part of it and yes, having the proper firmware and parameters is a big deal. But what we have struggled with most on the raid on Livonia is just simple cables and connectors and pins. Yes, I just picked up another 100 motors. But you know what that gets me? A quest for 100 encoder cables. They use kind of pricey connectors. There aren’t really any more of them available and certainly not a hundred. So we have to go out and get bids to have them made. Custom made cables with expensive connectors don’t come cheap. Faced the same thing with the Brusas. The cables were as pricey as the chargers. So we had to hunt down the pins and housings and so forth and it probably occupied me most of a couple of weeks to chase it all down and then we waited for a month to receive them as they were “out of stock”. Just kind of peculiar pins and housings. And quite expensive. Picture the Sendyne chip with all it does expensive at $27 but the two four pin Brusa plugs and pins being like $45 and very nearly impossible to find. Two little plugs.

        We’re just not in a position to actually ship people a pricey box and tell them good luck with it. They want something that can be made to work, and we have an obligation to do that. And so we work at it.

        But I do resent then others picking up the stray boxes for $1000 and then wanting all the bit pieces from us to make it work. You can have all of that you want Collin. We’ll send em your way.

        What I know and you don’t, largely as a result of my early Catholic education, is that people naturally sort themselves out both alphabetically and by height. Those same guys will worry you to death with support questions for the rest of your life. They are entirely about GETTING more, and when they find a source, they latch on to it and milk it to death. You’ll find whatever you charge is just a BIT TOO MUCH and another 5% off would be good too. And in fact, you really should work for free entirely. They’re users and a half dozen of them can sour you on even being in business. I’ve been around long enough to be able to identify them early, and send them down the road quickly. We just don’t have anything for them.

        They wind up clustering in DIYelectric whining about everything and complaining that nothing is available to them. They’re the real reason so much of this stuff is “OEM only” – what they are really saying is “no bottom feeders.”

        The same basic thing is what brought EV component suppliers to the point they were. Some of these guys had been selling parts for 20 years. But the constant pricing pressure brought their margins to the point where there was no way to sustain a business. And that is the inside joke on the Internet Price Match Guarantee – if you can find a higher price anywhere on the Internet – we’ll match it. The other end of it is “compete until everyone starves, gets disgusted and goes back to a day job” which is pretty much where it’s been. Leading to a treasure hunt for EV components that can’t be had, are months before being delivered. And on opening the box after you DO finally get it, finding out that a piece that is absolutely needed to use it AT ALL is just not included. You have to go back and order THAT if you want to use it. But by unbundling all the pieces, they can appear lower in price on an Internet price comparison.

        I could go on forever about this because for almost our entire existence, we’ve been the BUYER, not the seller. We were unable to buy a Zilla 2000 for example with a backlog of SIX MONTHS. The reason for the backlog of course is that the price was too low and Otmar was besieged with people wanting more for less until he became disgusted with the whole thing.

        We think there is a middle place somewhere in between 4% above your cost and a $34,000 go away price for a drive train. One that ensures ongoing availability, and someone to go to with problems.

        The other issue I have frankly is not putting OTHER vendors out of business. I love the stuff that HPEVS has brought us. And we intend to offer OPTIONS to that with the Siemens and UQM stuff where we can get it. But if we price below what HPEVS charges for their very good equipment, they’ll just wander off and service the mining industry or golf carts or something and a valuable product line that is perfect for many applications will just go away. So our pricing on Siemens and UQM is largely driven by not driving all the oxygen out of the room for anything else. The Siemens motors will run out. So will the UQM. Then what?

        And that goes to Curtis too. If you want them to develop higher powered maturely engineered AC inverters, in a very compact size, they have to sell some. They have to see some market demand. If not, they have a very viable business in fork lifts and golf carts and so forth. If you notice, there aren’t any real American manufacturers of chargers except Manzanita that you can buy. All of them come from China. I think product liability has a lot to do with that.

        Jack

          1. Yes, I don’t doubt either of you. There is a vast wealth of experience to that effect. But, some of those small timers will someday be in the position to be more knowledgeable and order more. I guess that’s sort of the chicken-and-egg problem with the hobbyist market. The people ordering 1 of something need the most support and tend to be the nastiest in terms of their dealings with companies but everyone starts somewhere and some people who order 1 today might get successful and order 10 tomorrow and 10,000 in a year. Additionally, sometimes it is the small people who prove a design before a larger entity comes through to order 10,000. It is a difficult problem. To some extent I don’t blame some of these EV companies for not wanting to deal with the hobbyist market but, in doing so, they limit their sales and exposure. A lot of EV companies seem to languish as people are beating down their door to purchase things that the company won’t sell. As an example, a nice battery plant was built in Holland, MI near me. (Owned by Johnson Controls I believe). They built the plant and then paid people to play solitaire for 1.5 years while no orders came in. Though, that’s not really true because I wanted to buy batteries from them and would have loved to buy a bunch and be a dealer. But, they refuse to even talk to people who won’t order a million batteries. Well, I can’t order a million until I order 100 and see how it goes. This happens everywhere. I don’t even require that much tech support and I’m not that mean (I swear!). But, these places don’t give me the time of day.

  2. Agree with your comments on China. When I was there I visited a huge new high rise development. 2300 flats (apartments) and just 1200 parking slots for sale at an additional $25k or so each to cover the all 2300; and that is a brand spanking new development only half completed.

    1. Well the issue of course is do the 1200 parking slots have access to electricity? And if not, all the subsidies in the world on the car price aren’t really going to have much effect.

      I get the question all the time – what if I live in an apartment and don’t have a garage or carport. Interesting question. No particular answer. I may be living too well to be in touch with the masses. I can no more imagine not having a garage than not having a bathroom. Where do you hide from your wife? Where would you store your beer and your whiskey and your tools? Where do you store your more or less permanent “mess” that she won’t fool with or comment on? Where do you put your lawn mower? Where do you keep drawers and boxes of parts to search through? Your chain saw? Your photos of Farah Fawcett from 1976?

      I saw a thing on TV about a high rise apartment building in Manhattan with an elevator for the attached garages. You drive in, hit a remote to select your “floor” and it lifts you to your “garage” which of course is right outside the kitchen door.

      So for good or ill, I think electric cars require garages. If your apartment doesn’t have one, then I don’t think an electric car will work for you. Heated garage is better yet. These cells still don’t charge well below freezing.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Spending like Barrack Obama? Hardly. You have a goal and you spend YOUR money. He has no goal and spends MY money. 🙂

        I spoke with the folks at Sendyne and they have had a run on the evaluation module. Wonder why? The gal I spoke with said they are paranoid about NOT having a BMS. Had to smile. I purchased one and will give it a spin even for my own knowledge. Im just looking to get a decent SOC meter instead of the Guess-O-Meter from Nissan.

        1. Yes, I heard from Ellen. Apparently our mention has turned their dull thud into a louder bang. It’s a kind of complicated thing but seems to measure current very well which is what we’re after. She DID note that the chips are MUCH less expensive in large quantity.

          Jack

        2. The Green Ones Meter! Hello Mr. McWade.
          GOM. Yes, on the software update I was a surprised they didn’t change it to %SOC. I think the GOM is a good bit of kit but if you charge up and climb that hill it thinks ‘You’ve used X% of charge and and gone Y distance so at this rate this will be your final mileage’. – Which looks bad! To overcome that, the best way is to carefully cut a square of black electricians tape. Then ever so carefully carefully stick it over the GOM. Works well, now you can drive and not have to watch that little liar making fun of your driving.
          And there’s still 20% of charge at 0 miles, 0 bars but that’s not a bad thing. So desperation adds another 15~20 miles.
          I suggest an ELM327 bluetooth dongle and get “leaf spy” for the android. The best $10 I ever spent. Geeks-R-us! YAY!

      2. Jack,

        When I saw the Tesla map of super charge stations and that there will be one in my town it occurred to me that anyone with a Tesla could park it in the same place outside of their apartment where they park now. And once per week drive to the super charge station and plug it in. Have some dinner while it charges knowing that Tesla just paid for the meal. This would work for anyone who could go several days without charging and charge several days worth of driving in an hour. So today pretty much only Tesla model S owners but a couple of years and some better Level 3 charging stations and I think apartment dwellers will have no problems. Are there any Model S owners who don’t have a garage? Seems rather unlikely doesn’t it.

        1. Doug and Jack – yes I think China needs the right building codes, fast charge and cheaper packs – and Tesla to switch public perceptions. The last six months feel like a tipping point in the West but as Jack said China is the worlds largest car market, has some of the world’s worst air pollution. We haven’t won until Chinese graduates want an electric car not a petrol one.

  3. I want to thank Brian for his details on the Karman Ghia that I would not been privy to otherwise. Lot of age specific details to think about on a vintage build. A nice presentation on that too ! Also liked the video from BMW building the battery, that automation is the kind of stuff I work with every day. But the European’s make the ABB robotic arms look like nothing else ever belonged there ! sweet !! Jack, I’m eager to hear which Solar equipment you have installed on the EV shop. I’m a local dealer of solar in Cape, guess I missed an obvious opportunity there. duh !

    1. I didn’t know that Bruce. We’re putting up 80 305 watt panels on those fiberglass raxxon stands. We’ll have several rather ordinary inverters downstairs. I want access to the DC so we passed on the obvious Enphase install. It’s pretty basic 24,400 but yeah, I’ve got to house three guys for five days to do it. I didn’t know you were doing that stuff locally.

      Brain has done Karmann Ghia’s before. But yeah the knowledge on the shift tube and the doors is the kind of VW stuff that’s hard to come by. He’s doing a great build on that one starting with a smart looking, but kind of rusty at the core late model Ghia.

      Jack Rickard

      1. Oh, no hard feelings about the solar. I think you are probably wise to use Ed Miller’s company from Arkansas as I have seen several fly-by-night guys set up here in Cape with false advertising. I think EVTV would actually fall under the ‘business’ category here in MO and be eligible for credits up to 100Kw, why stop at 25Kw ? Oh yea, the cost. As for me, I’ve followed solar power for about 12yrs now. Mostly commissioned remote equipment involving solar for water treatment control and other radio transmitting requirements. Once I heard about the bill in Missouri going up for vote 2008, I thought it was time to become a dealer for DC Power and did so. However, costs were still too high for the consumer demographic in this area, so I have had little luck selling systems. Recently, DC Power has morphed into Soligent, so I can offer pretty much any equipment that is on the market now. I’m excited to see micro-inverters on the market, they have a very solid niche. You and many others in this area are much better served with the DC equipment. Going with DC equipment, I suspect in the end you will be looking more like $3/watt installed rather than $2.60.

        1. We kind of have a firm price at $2.60. The purpose of DC is to have ACCESS to the DC. After the install is in and signed off, I’ll tap into the DC downlink to charge batteries and cars DC to DC. It will allow us many experiments. With Enphase it’s kind of only available as 240vac. Not really a problem, but not very flexible. We’ll have five 5kw inverters and 80 of the 305watt panels on a flat roof. It’s actually a pretty easy install. One story flat roof with two 200 A services right beneath it and the service entrance right there on the wall. In an open room. I don’t think it gets any easier than that.

          Jack

  4. before you tear all 20 of the Coda’s down, at least list one of them for sale as a complete roller. I’m sure somebody would be willing to purchase a battery pack for it. Heck, if the price was right, I’d be willing to drive a new 1990 Mitsubishi Lancer EV.

    1. We’re going to get one rolling so we have access to all the CAN stuff and to use as a “go-by” to verify the other parts. But I don’t see any market for them. If somebody jumps up and demands one, we’ll probably accommodate that at some price, but the cruelties of the junkyard are that a car is worth more in its parts count than it is as a car. The EVTV wrecking yard isn’t quite what I had in mind but in this case the components are too juicy to pass on.

      Jack

  5. Colin and Jack,
    I can understand the ebay hardware support, if your looking for EV parts on ebay you want a deal. People looking for deals are usually cheap, but for some of us its all we can afford. I have caught the bug, I want to become part of the 100,000 person EV army but just don’t have the extra income, nor did I have it to invest in Tesla so here I am. I have tried to contribute information to Jack and hoepfully EVTV viewers as I find it while researching my project. I think I sent Jack the info on the torque converters months ago after we a discussion about them, long before the Escalade failure. I had some Siemens info which I gladly provided EVTV.

    To be perfectly honest my auction purchases from Azure was pretty much dumb luck. I had gotten outbid and then got lucky with some lots that weren’t picked up. The auction house called me as a bidder on the last day they were onsite, I made them an offer and they took it. I threw it on CC and then sold off some extra componets ASAP (Siemens motor & Mitsubishi heaters) that paid for my lot. I have no other options to make DMOC work but wait for the GEVCU. Or wait for another high voltage three phase inverter to come around for the Siemens. Since Jack just bought a 100 motors he must think that another inverter will be available becasue I don’t think he has that many DMOC’s? So I will will likely be spending some money with Collin or Mark W. to get my DMOC running.

    1. Didn’t mean to pick on you specifically Anthony.

      Collin what you say is quite true and specifically what we are working to address. But the guys that give us a bad name are still the guys that give us a bad name. I pointed out to Siemens the other day that picking winners and losers is a little more difficult than running a Dunn & Bradstreet credit report on them. JB Straubel started digging a golf cart out during a dumpster dive. He’s CTO of Tesla. They sold to big time OEM Azure Dynamics, and now they are stuck with 100 essentially unsalable motors.

      So it is very much our motif that individuals should be enabled. At the same time, you can’t destroy everything standing in the name of “IT OUGHT TO BE FREE”. Free as in beer.

      A value proposition is one thing. But there is a very real element that not so much can’t afford it as that take great joy in tearing down and getting for themselves. They only know one note in the symphony of life – ME, ME, ME, ME…

      And we’ll just set you up as the goto guy for the bottom feeders. I think a month or so at that and you’ll have a very different take on things. These guys don’t have need, and they don’t have gratitude. It’s all about what they can get for free. And they laugh at you after they take advantage of your largess.

      Don’t ask me how I know…

      Jack

      1. I’d like to take this opportunity to add my observations.
        My job partially overlaps with my EV hobby. As a very small company we’re best described as a EV/HEV systems integrator. Anyway, on one project we used about 5 or so UQM systems. We, nor our customer are a large OEM, yet UQM sold us the systems. The reason was that we were a company, we were developing a prototype system, and there was potential for future sales. Also, because we were a company with EV/HEV experience, with engineers on staff, the support that they would have to provide was minimal. The pricing was on par with what Jack has stated. Basically, the cost of 1 or 20 or 50 is the same, high price. I don’t understand their pricing structure. The draw of the UQM hardware to me is the size and weight per KW. Add that to the fact that their hardware works exactly as advertized. If you plug it in and it doesn’t work, rest assured you did something wrong. Most of the other “OEM” grade inverters that I’ve used, I’ve had the opposite experience. Features that don’t work, nuisance faults, not performing to specification, etc. I’ve not used HPEVS hardware, so I don’t have experience with that equipment. Maybe what UQM and others need is a distributor network. I know how Jack and Elon dislike automotive dealers but maybe this is different. In the automation components industry the distributors provide a “value added” function of insulating the manufacturer from all the tiny needy customers. I’ve bee watching what New Eagle is selling and it looks like they are a distributor or some hardware that is otherwise not available to the lay person. They sell Remy motors, Phoenix Inverters, Delphi DC-DC converters and egearDrives, are just a couple examples. Also UQM DC-DC converters, and buried on their download page is info on some UQM drive systems.

        On the subject of Jack’s price match guarantee, I love what he’s done with the EVTV store. Out of my own pocket for my personal EV conversion, I’ve bought a complete drive system, DMOC, Siemens, and egearDrive. I would consider myself fairly frugal. On a couple smaller components I’ve also bought items elsewhere for less money. I usually shop around before buying and I can tell you that Jack doesn’t have the lowest price, but he does have the best VALUE. Inside the DMOC box was everything I needed. It had the encoder cable to go between the motor and DMOC, and also a bag of connectors. The AmpSeal connector and pins, and even a DB9 connector and pins. A sticker on the DMOC indicated the date and firmware revision that EVTV pre flashed into it. I’ve looked at battery pricing from a couple other vendors who “seem” reputable but probably don’t actually have stock… Jack’s prices are a couple percent higher. Then I added in the cost of the battery straps and then EVTV was a few percent lower. To me EVTV was the better value before adding in the battery straps. With the straps EVTV was also the lowest installed price.

        The last batch of Siemens motors that jack bought gives him quite a few more motors than DMOC controllers. However, these Siemens motors are AC INDUCTION motors not PM motors. Most configurable inverters with enough phase current and voltage could be configured to operate the Siemens motors. That puts Curtis out of the running. A RMS inverter certainly could though. The 100KW RMS inverter would be a bit weak, but the 150KW unit it it’s available yet would be great. The DMOC is actually the weak link in the system, not the Siemens motor. Granted a RMS inverter isn’t cheap, but if you are looking for highest KW / $, you should be looking at a series DC motor.

        Brian

        1. Thanks Brian. Everyone measures value prior to a purchase. I certainly do. The myth of stupid money kind of plagues the planning of the OEM startups. There isn’t any. It doesn’t exist. And I’m all ok with that.

          The bottom feeders I refer to are actually not very good at it, thats the problem. I have a guy today who bought batteries somewhere else and then came to us for advice and battery straps. He followed none of the advice with his bargain hipower cells and now he has to replace them. So he is finally buying CALB – somewhere else for $4 less. He wants to know if he can use the 40mm straps he bought from us on the LAST purchase to connect the 70mm distance between cells by drilling them out with a freaking drill. So far six e-mail messages today with a guy who isn’t really a customer, and has already spent DOUBLE on two packs, plus separate straps, and still doesn’t get it. And he won’t go away by me simply being rude, obnoxious, and an asshole. That we include the straps, a sanding block, a lift rope, a pair of gloves, etc, and know exactly how he can drive one set for 200,000 miles doesn’t factor in. As Ron White says, you just can’t fix stupid.

          The DMOC is really no different. Get a dedicated laptop with Windows XP from 1999 on it, a $350 Kvaser, about $60 worth of encoder cable connectors, an Ampseal, some DSUBS, misswire up a complete mess, spend six weeks chasing it all down and you can beat me right out of a couple hundred bucks.

          But they’re glued to the screen every week for their free TV show, haunting the forum, and looking for any way in the world to beat the game by $12. Half the stuff we do because it is easier and less expensive for one guy to do it than to have a hundred doing it separately.

          The -1280 upload failed this week and I had three of them DEMANDING to know when it would be fixed. No low-res version for them. They deserve only the very best, as long as I’m paying Amazon for the bandwidth.

          I shouldn’t complain. But I am rather famous for suffering fools poorly. In the end they do nothing, accomplish nothing, and don’t even serve themselves very well as they never do quite crawl out of the misery of want. As you know, we actually gave away $20,000 worth of components to a guy trying to get a start. As there isn’t a SECOND entity out there that has, I don’t really feel the need to apologize for insensitivity to lack of resource.

          Yes, we bought a hundred motors. This week I’m trying to get a bid on 100 encoder cables. Looks like something a little over $100 apiece. For a cable with six wires in it that’s two and a half feet long. Oh well…..

          There is a Scott Drive floating around out there, the RMS 150DX is “coming soon to a theatre near you” etc. etc. And I agree. The temperatures I’m seeing out of this motor with our two Summit Racing heat exchangers kind of leads me to believe this motor can do a lot more than we’re putting into it now. Certainly 150kw for a brief period. Maybe 200 kw. And I’m really kind of excited that they will simply be objects in the GEVCU and we won’t even have to change our settings to swap out an inverter on a vehicle.

          We’re doing a lot of fun stuff and I shouldn’t let the few negatives alter my outlook. It’s an exciting time and a lot of great equipment almost coming AT us at this point. Even the “we only do OEM” guys are coming around a bit.

          Again thanks.

          Jack RIckard

          1. So to sum up Jack’s post.

            Buy your components from EVTV so you can help support the show and make your life a lot easier….

            Or…… Be on the wrong side of the dumb line…..

  6. Jack buys up Codas for their drive packs. Good move.
    I’ll be buying up all the Leafs at this rate. Just seen one second hand, 6 months on the road near me for £12K. If I paid for 123, 60AH cells at 89 euro each they would be 24KWH and 11K euros to buy. Then there is the rest of the kit.

    1. Hi all, Allan here from NZ, a country in mourning, we have just failed to win the America’s Cup, what is worse beaten by an Aussie a Pomme and bunch of Kiwis!
      Anyway back to electric cars, I have had success running my tach from pin 2 of the 1238-7601 controller, this is an older type that ran off the igniter and is mentioned on the HPEV website not to work, I was wondering would you be interested in a video on how it’s all put together?
      Thanks Allan

      1. Hi Allan – apologies for aiding and abetting your opponents. I think by the way it is usually spelt “Pommie” and I understand that Australians are sometimes known to add a suffix that casts doubt on the marital status of our parents.

        1. Thanks John, hmm i’m afraid we kind of have a prefix here also “moaning” I believe, you’re not so bad I married one and it’s the best thing I ever did. A bit off topic, what are your thoughts? I charge at work and at home, is it better to do this or just charge at home and half the number of cycles, that would be a discharge to around 80%

          1. Hi Alan; “moaning” is sadly not an unjust way to describe some of my fellow Poms.

            On batteries – I don’t have data on that scenario but my sense would be that charging a smaller percentage less more frequently wouldn’t reduce the lifetime energy throughput of the battery and might increase it. This is just based on an unsubstantiated extrapolation from one set of manufacturer’s figures promising 3000 cycles at 70% and only 2000 cycles at 80%: a 50% improvement in cycle life for a 10% sacrifice on depth of charge.

            BTW after 750 cycles my CALB test pack is looking like a life around 2000 cycles if current trends continue. Voltage variance between cells has actually dropped.

    1. A little off topic, but for your entertainment, this is what a dual-stack REMY will do with twin RMS PM150DX inverters and oil cooled Dow Kokum battery cells. Notice in the YouTube video how it easily reels in the petrol powered cars on the track.

  7. I recently purchased and installed a tiny solar power system for my father, who has an RV out in the middle of nowhere and no access to electric power. It is only 200W and 12V for battery charging, but it is enough to keep his LED lights on in the evening and to run an electric water pump when he opens up the tap or flushes the toilet.

    When the sun came out and my Amp meter jumped up to 18A charge current into the batteries…that was pretty exciting. I know solar works…I have seen solar panels installed here and there…but it is really something else to put the panels in the sun and put a meter on them – pretty cool.

    I look forward to more EVTV and solar powered fast charging. Thanks Jack. I’ll be watching to be sure I don’t make the same mistakes you are going to do when I put a solar roof on my home.

    Michel Bondy

  8. Glad to find someone purchasing 20 Coda gliders from Ready Remarketing and United Vehicle Auctions. We are among the 117 original Coda owners who actually still have a warranty, but there is no Coda Automotive any longer to work on software bugs or updates. If you ever get a quality system running that can “sniff the CAN bus for motor control messages from the VCU”, as well as the MCM, I would be thrilled. We have discovered a couple bugs in the Coda software and would be very happy to find someone who is able to hack it and offer corrections/bug fixes/updates/cruise control (yes, that was written into the final software, but never implemented).

    Please keep at it, especially since the MCM software appears to be where one of the system bugs currently resides.

  9. WHAT A DAY!!!

    I have been sick for the better part of two weeks. I felt a lot better today.

    The car had been sitting for five days. I took the opportunity to verified that it loses about 1 AmpHr per day with just the little PLC active. That works out to a 42ma drain. My PLC meter bounces between 39-50ma (least significant bit of 15 bit signed A/D toggling back and forth) so it seem to be keeping good account of the power in and out.

    Today was 78 degrees, no wind and no clouds. I took the EVThing out in the mourning to run several errands and had a great little 30 mile or so drive. I plugged it in and waited until it was fully charged again. That was about 5:00pm. I jumped in the car and headed out for one of my favorite drives. It is about a 70 mile loop mostly on country backroads…

    It was one of the most pleasant drives I have done lately….

    The stats for any one interested were:

    73 miles using 141 amp-hr out of my 180 AmpHr pack. The initial voltage was 121Vdc and the Lowest voltage recorded voltage near the end of the drive at full throttle (650 amps) was 108 volts. The resting voltage at the end for the drive was 116vdc. These CA cells are quite impressive… That works out to about 220 WattHr per mile and the cars weighs 2600lb with me in it so Jack’s 10 Watt-hr per 100lb of car seems to be in the ball park…

    A lot of motor cycle riders frequent the same loop. It normally takes me about 2hr to make the loop. However, I had so many of the cyclists ask me to pull over to look at the car it took me over three hours to make the trip…. I think one guy is now planning his electric bike…

    I am so glad I found EVTV and that it inspired me to build this car. I have had more fun with this car than ANY project i have ever worked on. (And I have worked on a lot of different stuff…)

    I am going to one of the biggest cruise in nights of the year tomorrow there should be well over 200 hot rods there along with my little EVThing…. Should be fun…

    1. Fantastic. Pleased to hear it. Yes, I constantly think I”m unique – NOT. The THING strikes my sense of whimsey, so I thought they would make a cute build. I had no idea. I’m getting the same reaction – pretty much mobbed at the grocery store. Not because it’s electric so much, but because it’s a THING. Everyone is attracted to it and I guess there is just the right amount of familiarity left over from the seventies. Or a Pepsi commercial. Or something. But it is definitely a crowd pleaser.

      I’m going to predict you’ll be the star of the show tomorrow. Just guessing really.

      220 wH per mile is actually quite good at 2600 lbs you’re beating the game a bit – sign of a straight car and expert build.

      Reminds me I need to weigh hours now that its done.

      Jack Rickard

          1. Btw I just realized I misspelled Kubelwagen, its what happens when you hit the return before spellchecking, and I’m too lazy to put in the umlaut.

            Roy

          2. Dont mind the spelling. A “Kugel” is like a ball but more solid. Typically a canon ball or “Kanonen Kugel”. So a Kugelwagen could be carrying many interesting images most of them ironically fitting. It could be “kugelsicher” that is save from rifle attacks. The reflexive verb to kugel “sich kugeln” means rolling on the floor (laughing).

            Peter

      1. Hi Jack, It was great to see EVWest last week and hear good reports of similar builds to my project. My 914 is currently under scrutiny by Matt Hauber at EVWest for a safety check and wiring help to finalize my build. You have been a great help through the latter half of my build after being bilked out of …….$ early in my build by a familiar name in the business. Love the show. Don’t worry about the price. We know a good thing when we see it. I hope to send pics of my completed build soon. MJ

  10. Jeff, Its great to hear about your experiences and stats. Thanks for the update. Not only is Jack and gang a great inspiration, you and all the builders are. My project is still barely started, but I’m hoping for a report out to ya all by the end of the year.

  11. Jack,

    Interesting show this week. So does this mean you could just hook your cells in parallel, put a resister on them, and let them go to zero to bottom balance, then hook them up in series for the initial charge? I have a small Basaltic 12 volt battery that was bottom balanced then drained to zero when I left the door ajar by mistake. It came back up with no apparent damage. Sure would save a bunch of time.

    Randy

  12. Jack,
    Love the new show as always, and I have a couple of thoughts on the whole golf car adventure. Add one more cell for a grand total of 18 just to give homage to Mr. Murphy because I have seen people unintentionally mess up a brick by looking at it. Just use the rest of the space for an integrated cooler to hold “frosty cold beverages” to be used to celebrate a good shot or drown the memory of a really bad one.

  13. I thought some of you might like this portable charge station. I bought one of the older ones and added the plug myself, but now they offer it with two plug options already installed. Make two or three short adapters and you can charge almost anywhere…..

    I think this is the best home/portable unit you can buy….

    http://www.clippercreek.com/blog/clippercreek-introduces-smallest-240v-plug-cord-connected-ev-charge-station-available/

    Jack, this might be a good addition to the store with a few value add adapters with it as a kit in a bag….Hint Hint

  14. Sendyne Evaluation Module has arrived. Lots of work ahead. No clue what Im doing either. I hope to be able to ask questions as needed. Will anyone be on the forum with specific work using the Sendyne Evaluation Module where we can ask questions and exchange information?

    1. I not only haven’t experimented with it, I was totally oblivious to the effect. Absolutely fascinating. Given that the cell is alternating layers of cathode and anode, I’m a little curious how they managed to measure this effect “at the anode”. But it’s a very original piece of work and utterly fascinating. Thanks for linking me up. The sensors he describes appear to be quite different from the giant magnetosensors in the second link.

      Again, thanks for the pointer.

      Jack

      1. I think they may be measuring the total field of the battery, that changes depending on whether the lithium ions are at the cathode or anode, with a coil on the battery, that connects to an external coil to measure the change in that coil, with the NVE chip. They are measuring the change in the ac signal produced field that the change in the total battery field causes. Like you said at EVCCON, I think this is how it may work.

        1. Referring to my previous post, I guess the other thing you said was “typing yourself smart.” Below is a link to the Cadex patent application.

          http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20110074432.pdf

          Figure 4: in the link below shows a picture of the Cadex Q-Mag™ sensor installed on the side of a starter battery.

          http://www.buchmann.ca/article39-page1.asp

          Micro Magnetics, Inc appears to make a line of smaller magnetic field sensors.

          http://micromagnetics.com/products_mtj_f_s.html

  15. Jack,

    I’m anxious to hear about your photovoltaic (PV) system installation. My wife and I couldn’t see the economics in installing a system in our current home, even with all the incentives, since we weren’t sure how long we’d be there, but I do envision a system down on the farm in southern IL when I retire. The barn has a perfect south-facing roof inclined at a nearly perfect angle, plenty of room to install a battery bank (maybe some ‘spent’ LiFePO4’s that have been put out to pasture) for fast-charging the EV truck, maybe an EV ATV. Who knows, might even try and run the grain bin blower fans and unloading augers. Anyway, I’m looking to learn from your experiences. Good luck.

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