Happy Thanksgivukkah.

Coming up on Christmas and have just survived another Cyber Monday. And every day at EVTV is a bit like Christmas Morning. I have shiny new toys stacked up without time to even play with them. And many more coming.

Whence this cornucopia of bling things? It’s raining EV components and we’re getting into other things as well – some minor solar things for examplitude.

Failure. It is raining failure all over us. And it puts me in a delicious melancholy and even a bit of fear which makes no sense. I intentionally embrace failure and so have no fear of it. But you kind of get caught up in the noise and smoke of a thing even when you know better.



The Azure Dynamics failure was of course our first foray into liquidation and it continues. We bought a number of motors and controllers and chargers in that. Others did as well. Mostly they have had more difficulty dumping them at a profit than they thought and so one by one they’ve come to us, large and small, hoping we would buy them. We did. And have. Until we can hardly move for all of them. Siemens being the largest of course with 100 motors. But we continue to flush out a DMOC here and a motor there and we did pick up another 25 BRUSA chargers along the way.

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CODA failed, selling less than 100 cars. I initially agreed to buy 20 of them with an eye to parting them out. I had a few provisos that proved problematical for them and so we dropped that. They have since come back and offered to part them out for us and just send us the UQM inverter and motor and eGeardDrive. I’ve bought 10 of these sets to see if we can do SOMETHING with them. I have a description of their CANbus protocol and so should be able to GEVCU them.


One of the most fascinating failures is Better Place. They raised over $800 million in a scheme to hot swap batteries and derive revenues from the public essentially based on how much they were spending on gasoline, at least that’s how the investor prospectus read. That anyone buying an electric car might have an eye to REDUCE what they were spending was rather glossed over. Renault did produce an electric car with this very unusual battery pack called the INFLUENZA. Actually something like that. They apparently failed to go viral as they sold 3400 cars worldwide over three years.



After a number of offers for the remaining carcass fell through, my understanding is the bankruptcy court realized about $450,000 from the assets. In all of that, I have somehow obligated to purchase 72 of the 22kW Lithium Manganese Oxide replaceable battery packs at an ahem somewhat of a discount from their original cost.

We’re actually suffering a bit here at EVTV from all of this. First, we’re quickly running out of space. And second, we’ve just put too much money in the effort. Most of these liquidations are VERY attractive per unit cost, but to get that they want you to take ALL of them or MOST of them and that results in the LARGE CHECK which of course is what they want – quickest liquidation with the minimum amount of brain damage.

But our sales kind of stumble along at the same erratic pace, up one month and down the next, only to recover a bit. If I survey others in the space, their first reaction is to lie and I never can tell which way. And then when they do come clean, it appears to be about the same. You see growth in EV component sales is a function of growth in EV builds. And that goes back to the army. As they see others, the desire to do it themselves grows as well.

Long term, I think this augurs well for a burgeoning industry centered on converting existing vehicles to electric drive. Follow Jeff Southern’s adventure in this weeks video and it is obvious the pride and satisfaction he takes in things as small as a stereo installation or his PLC vehicle monitor. But the bottom line is working on cars and drinking beer in Georgia kind of is a state sport. He’s no stranger to fabrication and transmissions and brakes and motors. But in this week’s video he makes a rather flat bare assed statement that he has NEVER had as much fun and self satisfaction as he has building this obviously whimsical quirky “car” into electric drive.

In addition to the joy of it actually working, and the sudden head rush of driving around town for an HOUR OR TWO using ZERO gasoline, and the surprising acceleration that is VERY different from a golf cart, picture for a minute if you will just what Jeff looks like to his friends and neighbors. Now everyone knows he works for a technology company and kind of teaches how to use PLC for plant automation. He’s not precisely a tobacco farmer or hillbilly subsistance moonshine deviant. But he went IN to his garage with a 1974 Volkswagen, banged around a bit and drove OUT of his garage in an electric car that goes 100 miles and doesn’t use any gasoline, it’s quiet as a ghost and goes like scat. He might as well have emerged from the garage with another head growing out of his shoulder. “Man, he must be some kind of freakin genius.”

Now there is just no motivation for him to explain he bought all the components ready made online and bolted them together. That his biggest challenge was moving the seat back two inches and dealing with the floor rust is just not anything these people want to hear, nor anything he carries any specific obligation to tell. And in this video, with even a touch of embarassment, he comes clean and admits he kind of enjoys the cranial detonations that go off when he shows them the car and explains he did this in his garage working nights and weekends for a few months. His craftsmanship actually IS pretty impressive and so the car also LOOKS the part – essentially a show car. But he’s out driving it to the grocery store.

It has even affected his wife, who has noted the attention from the female car enthusiasts with a wary eye. She’s riding around with Jeff in the car a tad more than she had been just to keep an eye on things and inevitably there ARE discussions of an electric car for her as well. Maybe store boughten. Maybe not. Jack’s wife got a Tesla Model S you know. Of course this BMW i3 is certainly sporty looking….

Dale Friedhoff is little different in his little suburb outside of St. Louis Missouri with a little red pickup truck. Except Dale really does have to have every wire in perfect position or he gets a little fidgety. Dale worked hard all his life, retired and is intent on being the good grandfather. A very modest, even retiring man, he is never really comfortable in the limelight.

Well except for the truck. The city, and the high school, and the EVA local chapter all wanted him to stop in and give a little presentation. And everywhere he goes he’s the guy who built the red pickup truck that goes 100 miles on a charge and makes no noise. He really doesn’t like all the attention. Well not much. Well not exactly. Well, ok, maybe at a local car show now and again, it’s ok to have people talk to you. Just to get the word out you know.

Actually he laps it up like a puppy after gravy train. He gets NOTICED. His opinion on such matters is SOUGHT AFTER. In a strange way, he has more IDENTITY than he ever did from his career. And all of this at a time in life where he feared he would retire and kind of be forgotten. To not matter except to a few close friends and of course the grandkids. Hell he’s a celebrity.

Anyone who does a vehicle conversion and shows up among a group of NERDS. Within 10 minutes they have suddenly become a serious NERD MEMBER and are conferred with intently on matters of issue to NERDS everywhere. If you walk away and go sit down with the ecofreak group who are worrying themselves into anorexia and eating disorders suffering for the planet and suddenly you’re the main point of focus. They were doing pretty well actually using reusable grocery sacks to prevent all that plastic buildup until you showed up with an electric freakin car. They were just about to confer on lightbulb changing strategies and concerned over the disposability of compact flourescent bulbs versus the high price of LED and holy cow you haven’t been to a gas station in HOW LONG????? What do you mean you don’t go at all?

You show up at the local hot rod custom car glide-in and you really glide. What’s the matter with that thing? It doesn’t make much noise? Within minutes they are poking at your cables and prying at the batteries. It does HOW many foot pounds of torque? It’s the size of a hatbox. How does it do that?

And so it goes across many totally disparate groups. All bridge players are interested in electric cars. Apparently all golfers are too. Even local CAR dealers are quizzing you over it.

But as in the early days of the Internet, it kind of grows organically, from one guy to the next. And it doesn’t matter what components are available or at what price. It’s about deliberating for a year with the central question “Can I do it?” And frankly that depends. How good are you at welding a seat stanchion to move it back two inches? The electric part isn’t hard. And it’s getting easier. But you find out along the way that your stock VW transmission is much better with the original 37 hp Volkswagen engine. You’re going to need a racing rig. It can take weeks to work out the LED lights. Not because LED lights are anything, but the wiring in the 35 year old car was so rotten you had to rip it out and you’re not sure just how to wire it up again. We spend MORE time on NON electric car things doing electric cars, than we do doing the electric car. In the end, it is a serial exercise in small problem solving events. None insurmountable, or even particularly hard. If you have the patience for that, it is very rewarding. And if you don’t, you don’t.

So everyone pictures the stopper as availability and cost of parts. It never was. It was belief system. I want one. I want to build one. Now make me believe I CAN.

We try not to oversell that, and we’re pretty effective. To some degree, no car at EVTV actually ever GETS finished. And we don’t spend much time trying hide our failures and revisits. But we do have a lot of fun doing it.

So we’re in the awkward position of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars stockpiling shiny glittery bling parts in massive piles, that there is no readily apparent need or demand for. How’s that going to work out? I’m not sure really. I know the world is not a static place. I know the cost of gasoline is low now, the world is mostly at peace, and we are all focused on health insurance at the moment. That we are one camel sneeze from a global financial and energy disaster only plays into it after it happens.

Churchill strove heroically throughout the 1930’s to maintain an eroding English military capability in the face of a popular notion that the War to End All Wars had already been fought and won and it was just unthinkable to have one. He was viewed as a doddering old relic chanting nonsense in the House of Commons. Ever ready to hail the sky is falling. As WWII began, he was suddenly thrust into the helm and told to do something about it. But all he had was blood and toil and sweat and tears. He would rather tanks.

And that brings us around to the remarkable topic of failure. The childminds that brought us into what is becoming more clearly the epic mess of the 21st century with the Affordable Care Act, hopefully about to be supplanted with the I DON”T CARE GIVE ME MY DOCTOR AND HEALTH INSURANCE BACK Act. And that is a basic misunderstanding of what failure in the American economy is really all about and why bailing out LARGE failures is not necessarily good public policy. All news is news. ANd it is GOOD news for some, and BAD news for others. Companies don’t fail because of want of a nail for a horseshoe. Unfortunate events and disasters don’t really take company’s out of the game. Each day, they can reinvent and readjust and refocus and so it is very rare for any particular disaster to take out a small company and its almost a preposterous notion with a large company. Failure tends to be systemic. To go bankrupt you have to embark on the wrong mission at the wrong time using the wrong tools and techniques, and if you have 3/4 of a billion in hand at the time, you have to work hard at doing the wrong things over and over and over.

Those resources are better used elsewhere for success. Tesla, bought the NUMI facility for $50 million. It was a billion to build it. It would BE that to build it now. It is a great asset to Tesla, but not one they could have ever had at list price. In fact, Toyota invested $50 million in Tesla with one hand, and sold them the facility for $48 million with the other.

AZD goes bankrupt and we have a very inexpensive AC motor and inverter combination as a result of sufficient power to make a very nice car. Better Place goes bankrupt and we soon have batteries that some will buy at a cost they otherwise might not have purchased, that leads to something else entirely. UQM wants $15,000 for a motor and controller. How about $9,00 for both plus the eGearDrive and half axles. The aged dying growth dries up and falls to the forest floor and is recycled into new green growth from the bottom up. Opportunity for some comes from the misfortune and failure of others. It is a MUCH more dynamic and creative and recreative process, of endless complexity and variety, than I believe a signficant percentage of our political leaders are cognizant of or can picture. No central government or entity can manage all that complexity. It is Darwinian. It is evolutionary. It is organic. It is life. Life happens. It’s not mandated by the President of the United States or the U.S. Congress.

For me, the most magic is that I simply am not given to know, nor can I imagine. I have not the vision nor the scope of view, to know just WHAT the individuals who wind up with these little shiny bits and baubles will do with them. I know that is where Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk, and David Packard, and Bill Gates, and Linus Torvalds, and thousands of others come from and get their start in garages all over the world. And this is SO powerful, and SO immense, that it in fact changes the world entirely. Like a business, or individual, each sunrise brings a new day, and a new world, and a new chance to adjust, adapt, innovate, refocus, and reinvent.

To quote Martha Stewart: “And that’s a good thing.”



66 thoughts on “CREATIVE FAILURE”

  1. Jack,
    Is there a problem mixing 100AH Calb(Grey) with a pack of 100AH Thundersky(Yellow) batteries.
    I want to add 2 more batteries to my pack.


  2. Jack,
    Am I correct in assuming that the half shafts from AZD, that you are offering in the store, will work with the e-Drive that you are selling. Will those half shafts also work with the AT1200 fixed speed differential that AZD used to use in their Force model?


    1. The half shafts work with eGearDrive and eTransit Connect. The idea in providing them is they fit into eGearDrive perfectly, and you replace the outersegmetn at the CV joint with whatever you need for your vehicle. No info on Force Model AZD.

      Jack Rickard

  3. The weight distribution and handling on the Fluence must be just ghastly with all the battery weight right at the back and stacked up that high!

    Hope you all had a great turkey day over in the US 🙂

  4. It’s Tuesday night around 6:30 and I see a giant of a man with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a carton of smokes calling it quits for the night. Life is good my friend, life is good…….

  5. Jack, thanks for the DC-DC converter discussion. I always wondered what phenomenon was causing converters to fail. But as you’ve mentioned before, even with the diodes and inductors attached (as illustrated on the 400W converter in the EVTV store and in this week’s discussion) converters will still fail. What’s a person to do when we come to EVCCON and go about thrashing our EVs on ‘play day’? Seems the most sure-fire way to prevent smoking the converter is to just disconnect it entirely, and remind each other to connect it again at the end of ‘play day’. Cheers

    1. I work on a lot of converted Citroen C1 cars that used 25 Thunderskys, HPEV 35 and curtis, with a Chennic 350w Dc to DC. Few Dc to DCs have failed, coming across one that had been well abused and its DC to DC changed for a Meanwell Clone, I thought it about time I found some alternatives, with no ready supply of Chennick (Loads of new 156v ones available though)the meanwell clone was a 72v one so of course it failed being over voltaged (As the smug UK supplier gloated, the original purchaser had had about 1 month of use having paid about £350 for a 300w part that was never going to work), SO I purchased some from China that were a higher voltage (96v 72 to arout 110v) well within spec for the cars. SO I finally fit one to my Smart as a test, and afew hours later had to go get the cara nd wife with a completely flat 12v battery. It turns out the Meanwell clones being cheap have no internal voltage control, if the Pack voltage goes below 72v then the DC to DC goes Phut. Great. Mine did down to about 67v with the PTC heater on and down to about 35% on the 25cell Blue 180 CALBS. So back to the old Chennick. Chennick will make a batch for me with whatever cut off voltage I want, so thats a great option. I also make a small board that controls the turning on and off of the DC to DC. There seem to be two lines of thought, leave the DC to DC on alll the while (A miles I sorted had this set up) and so the DC to DC will eventually burn out (Miles had eaten three sevcons). The other way is to turn the DC to DC on when charging or driving, great but if the 12v goes too low ie car left for a week or so , with parasitic Radio and BMS, with no 12v the charger and curtis wont start. SO I make a small device that monitors the DC to DC and switches it on for two hours if the 12v battery goes below 12.2v for more than 20 seconds (Central locking can cause a temporary dip) the whole thing is reset if charged or driven. I am now sorting another device to turn off the DC to DC if the pack goes above or below a set of pre determined voltages, so preserving the DC to DC from failure.

      1. Just a point, its not just the demand and back flow that kills the cheap Dc to DC, they just fail if the pack voltage goes too low or too high, which is why Chennick have a good internal cut out system that deals with low and high pack voltage to protect the device.
        The C1s and others I work on all have a normal 12v car battery, with a few C1s haveing been made with a 50+ah Dr cell instead to save space.
        I personally like having a decent 12v source, and it

      2. Good info there Grumpy. I am starting to think that we actually need two DC-DC converters in these cars. I had to have two because I needed 24VDC for a few things. As a result, I discovered that I like having two. The 24VDC unit in my car is only 50 Watts (It is also available as 12vdc). It only pulls about 50ma from the pack while powering my PLC, Voltage Isolator and the Shunt Isolator. I use it to power the larger Meanwell 480W DC-DC converter. This lowers my vampire draw down to 50ma and gives me some control over what to do in a low voltage situation or a high voltage charging issue.

        The best part is the Little power supply will operate from 85 – 360 VDC out of the box….

        I think I would rather have one of these little guys to switch a relay and power up the main DC-DC than an aux battery since we always have that chicken before the egg problem….

    2. In my opinion, the main thing killing the DC-DC is water and sizing them too close to the needed amp draw. If you need 50 amps the unit (or units) should be rated closer to 80-100 amps….

      I almost always over size switching DC power supplies by about 50-100%…

  6. Interesting. I have never had a problem with my DC to DC converter. I wonder what is on the input of the unit you use that is allowing it to blow.
    I am not a power guy and it’s probably dumb luck. My converter is designed for 120VAC input but I didn’t know that when I hooked it up. It works great though now for 6 months. It must rectify the AC on the input so the DC passes through as well. It has circuit protection in it to limit AC spikes and shorts so this must be the difference. Anyone smart care to explain it to me?

    1. The cheapDc to DC have a very limited operating range, inbetween they work and outside they just blow. The Chennic has decent electronics that turn it off if the voltage goes low or high and back on again when it returns to within its limits. The low voltage seems to be the killer when under load, the electronics are just under speced so as pack voltage goes down, the current goes up, and the cheap components just dont handle it. Keep within the good operating voltage at all times and alls fine. Its dark and cold here so headlights, heater and radio with a touch of heater fan (That pulls 15amps on its own) and 30 amps is easy to achieve, on the last one I used it blew when with PTC heater running the pack voltage went down to around 65v. With very little load in daylight it coped fine when I guess draw was under 10amps.

  7. How long before the “Flu” batteries hit your web store? I’m curious about the dimensions of the package. I might be interested in one if the price and size are right. Interesting that they are using the same cells and modules that are in the Leaf but they have a peltier cooler installed in the package. I bet the folks in AZ wish they had a cooler fitted to their packs.

  8. also interesting that with the same 48 modules, Nissan calls it a 24kWh pack and Renault calls it 22kWh. I know in my Leaf, I only have “access” to about 21kWh…perhaps Renault is allowing the car to use a bit more and they are rating it on the usable capacity instead of the total capacity.

    1. Ok. So they are 48 “modules” each module with 4 cells 2S2P. That gives you 96S2P with 192 cells. At 3.6v 345.6v. Each cell is 32.5 Ah so we have 65 Ah. I count that as 22,464 watt hours.

      It does indeed have a quite advanced Peltier cooling system. You could either try to use the pack as is, or simply disassemble and use the cells in your own configuration.

      So you MIGHT be interested if the PRICE was RIGHT. Now that’s an interesting and very original concept. But I do think pricing is the key to this. I originally turned these cells down cold. The “price” then got to be “right” and at that price I rather was forced to take them. But the assumption would be that you would be too. I don’t actually need 72 Renault packs here at the shop.

      So other than the DIY desire, and indeed philosophy that everything should be free, at least when buying, what does the RIGHT price mean.

      No warranty or support. Little documentation. Brand new packs. But enough cells to easily do most cars.

      Let’s break this into five or six RIGHT prices.

      PRICE ONE: Send it. You can’t get me one here fast enough.

      PRICE TWO: I’m going to buy one. Give me a week to get my money together. Hold it for me.

      PRICE THREE: Attractive. I hope they are still available next build maybe.

      PRICE FOUR: I’ll have to think about that/shop around.

      PRICE FIVE: I don’t find that a particularly attractive value. Little interest.

      PRICE SIX: I can do better elsewhere – no sale.

      Most engineered packs start out at about $1 per watt hour. This is why we find it confusing when the press talks about breaking the $1000 barrier for kWh of lithium. WE’ve of course been paying less for years.

      I would be interested to see what you guys come up with as the RIGHT price. I know Jehu thinks $600 per vehicle is about right if you want to drive at the speed of anaging laptop computer. A similar capacity of CALB cells would be about $9500 I would guess. So everybody feel free to vote, except Jehu.

      Jack Rickard

        1. Jack/Mike,
          Actually, just to clarify, the £3500 figure is what I’d worked the euro figure from allowing for delivery and VAT 🙂 I will take one of these in January if you can do £3500 for sure. So maybe if there is enough interest, you could look at shipping some directly here to the UK? 🙂

          As for the other prices, none of them are of interest personally, so I’ll let others have a go…

      1. My pricing is only slightly different, and I’ll add a bonus section – Price 0
        Price 0 – $3000 or under – I’ll take 2. For that price, I’m in for an experiment.
        Price 1 – $4000 – I’d like 2, but send 1 right away. We’ll work out the implementation details later.
        Price 2 – $5000 – I can make 1 work. I’m interested in more details like GEVCU as larry mentioned, and how hot do they get?
        Price 3 – $6000 – More details needed, may be worked into the next build. Can I use/recycle any of the engineered package?
        Price 4 – $7000 – The CALBs are less work, have warranty …
        Price 5 – $8000 – Add the cash and get the CALBs
        Price 6 – $9000 – Nope – definitely not worth the effort

  9. The reason for “MIGHT be interested” is that it would just be a “toy” for me. For my cars, at this point I’ll stick with CALB CA series since they provide the safety and longevity that I expect. You need to price the cells at a point where you make a fair margin and it is also a good value for the customer. That way everybody is happy. If it was not a toy for me and I was going to purchase these for a project car, I would expect to have these priced at about the same price point as the CA cells.

    However, after just typing that, I realize that these modules come prepackaged ready to go, and that would be worth something. They are about 40% (before packaging) better energy dense (wH/kg)(132 vs 94) and volume dense (Wh/liter)(212 vs 153). There is a value to that as well.

    So higher density cells, prepackaged into a module that includes cooling. Sounds like it should be priced above the CA cells.

    Are all the modules brand new never been installed in a vehicle, or are some of them used modules? That would make two different price options.

    1. Many would dismantle to build a lower voltage system so a prepackaged system is not totally desirable and that even if you were able to use it at the same voltage would it actually fit without taking it apart negating the prepackaged aspect. These cells don’t have the same cell cycles as the CALB cells so I’d expect them to be in-between Jehu’s $600 and a new pack of CALBS. Myself, I can’t use them prepackaged but would be very interested in them for my Bus. A nice sometime driver and a lower voltage system. Maybe even for the 914. Im going to wait to see what Jack comes up with as a right price. If right, Im on it and you can’t ship it fast enough.

    2. OK so can’t read instructions AND have no idea what we’re talking about or pricing either. MIGHT be interested at some price, but you have no idea what that price might be? It needs to be the RIGHT price but you haven’t a clue what THAT might be? This is going to be tougher than I thought.

      1. I think for me it would be about a 3.5, as I have all the cells I need for the Civic and I don’t know what is coming next. The CALBs are a known quantity (I now have over 1200 cycles on the test pack I reported on at EVCCON and capacity is still well above 80% – I owe Jack some video).

        A critical factor would be the ease of using it as a pack. If there are internal module level connections that are connected to anything that smells of cell shunting or balancing it would be a 4, as I wouldn’t want to disassemble the pack unless the price differental with the CALBs was vast

      2. ” 96S2P with 192 cells. At 3.6v 345.6v. Each cell is 32.5 Ah so we have 65 Ah. I count that as 22,464 watt hours.”

        Similar currently available:
        345V/3.2V Nom. =~ 108 CALB 60’s = $9612
        If I go for breaking open and rearranging lower voltage/higher amp-hr e.g. 32s6p…
        =32*3.6= 115.2V at 32.5*6=195 A-hr =~ 36 CALB180’s = $9324

        My pricing is based on one battery pack and I think is very representative to what is going on in my head.

        PRICE ONE: $3000 Give me 2, I’ll put it on the card and hope my wife doesn’t notice the two strange black cubes in the garage! 😀
        PRICE TWO: $4000 I’m going to buy one. Still going to buy it right away because I don’t want to miss out.
        PRICE THREE: $5000 Attractive. I hope they are still available when I have the balls to start my build.
        PRICE FOUR: $6000 I’ll have to think about that. I still need to buy a motor/controller and a BRUSA to charge the damn thing. (Let alone bottom balance??? FML)
        PRICE FIVE: $7000 I don’t find that a particularly attractive value. Probably going to sit on my hands and watch everyone complain that they aren’t free.
        PRICE SIX: $8000 I might as well buy CALBs and make my life a lot easier.

      3. Wow, really?

        I don’t expect you to sell at $600 and I don’t expect you to sell at $9000.

        My affordable range at this time: $3000 and you can’t get them here fast enough. Beyond that, might as well wait for a few months.

        $8000 I’ll pass.

        My belief is anything from $3000 and below they will be gone before you have a chance to let them even touch the floor of your shop.

  10. It is hard to tell if you are serious in the message above, so I assumed your message about wanting six numbers was sort of a joke. That is why I only gave you an idea that I thought the price should be somewhat near the pricing of a set of CALB CA’s. I may not be the best source for your pricing given that I am in the middle of a build right now, but I’ll take a stab at some ranges for your question.

    PRICE ONE: Send it. You can’t get me one here fast enough.

    PRICE SIX: I can do better elsewhere – no sale.
    since this product is not available anywhere else this would be N/A.

  11. somehow the entire post got hosed. Let me try and recreate it.

    PRICE ONE: Send it. You can’t get me one here fast enough.

    PRICE SIX: I can do better elsewhere – no sale.
    since it is not available elsewhere this is N/A.

  12. it did it again.

    somehow the entire post got hosed. Let me try and recreate it.

    PRICE ONE: Send it. You can’t get me one here fast enough.
    less than $3000

    PRICE TWO: I’m going to buy one. Give me a week to get my money together. Hold it for me.

    PRICE THREE: Attractive. I hope they are still available next build maybe.

    PRICE FOUR: I’ll have to think about that/shop around.

    PRICE FIVE: I don’t find that a particularly attractive value. Little interest.
    greater than $11,000

    PRICE SIX: I can do better elsewhere – no sale.
    since it is not available elsewhere this is N/A.

    1. Much better. This is what I’m looking for. It provides both a sense of urgency and a decimal number to define the RIGHT PRICE. As I said, the availability and the procurement of teh cells is actually only defined by price anyway and my sense of the right price for an unusual value proposition. They were originally offered to me at essentially the same price as CALB and my reaction was as John Hardy’s – I’d rather the CALB all other things being equal.

      At SOME price, all other things are NOT equal. I provided the gentleman actually negotiating the liquidation in Israel a tiny bit of inside information which he used to scoop them all up very right. He in turn sold 20 or so at a good profit and used me to buffer the entire sale at a modest markup. And so I wind up with rather a few MORE than I contracted for at an attractive “price” by my estimation but requiring a hideous check from EVTV to make all this happen. If you take your price one, and multiply it by 72, it’s just a lot of ducats. But if your price matrix is accurate, I think you are “going to buy one”.

      And I hope you do. And that there are a lot of you.

      I recently have had at least TWO people whom I have worked closely with on projects, provided endless answers to questions about batteries, sold minor bits to, etc. etc. In both cases they three me under the bus on a LARGE battery purchase in order to save a few hundred dollars. Well business is business and a few hundred dollars is a few hundred dollars. But I find this “every man for himself” approach to life more than a little offensive. In fact, I find it wretchedly impoverished both intellectually and spiritually.

      The practical aspect is that I see a world where everything and everybody is connected. Your actions and even thoughts affect mine. And mine yours. In kind of a broad stroke universal tapestry but one that can be very personal. To bring this apparently whispy thought into more concrete form, every time we pull off one of these liquidations and subsequently sell them to our viewers who share our view of the value proposition, the opportunities to do so increase. We hear about and are enabled to do larger deals on more attractive stuff. But in a sense, we are acting in concert as kind of a “group” with ever increasing buying power. I think that holds enormous potential to gain the things I constantly see people yearning for.

      The other end of this is that you have to picture where Jack Rickard comes from. My family was in construction – essentiallly stone masons for seven generations. A few weeks ago, my shower glass failed in a mystically catastrophic fashion that was really quite dramatic. As it turns out, this leaky old 120 year old house had the roof settling and it eventually caused this beautiful show with shower glass.

      I called George Davis to have a look. George has a glass company. George and I graduated high school together in 1973. This makes sense because we started the first grade together in 1961. It also makes sense since George’s father, Joe, preceded him in the glass business. And of course my father, also Jack Rickard, always went to Joe Davis for glass. Going back to I don’t know when because I wasn’t there to know.

      My shower is not the largest glass job George will do in town this year. And I don’t know what it cost me as he hasn’t sent the bill yet. I didn’t ask. He didn’t say. Could I have shopped around and gotten it less expensively? I don’t know. I don’t care. George will answer the phone. He has to. It’s generational. I’m not sure I know why I have to call him. And I’m not sure he knows why he has to return the call. But getting the glass for $100 cheaper somewhere else isn’t any part of it.

      Similarly I’m working on some battery modules for RVs and Golf Carts. I keep working on them, over and over. Each time, I have the basic aluminum box cutout and welded up at Southeast Fabricating. Southeast is owned and run by Danny Todt. My little boxes aren’t the largest fabrication job Southeast gets. And I might be able to get them done less expensively somewhere else. You see Danny and I DIDN’T graduate together because he went over to Central High School to play football and Notre Dame didn’t have a team. But we graduated the same year which makes sense because we DID start first grade together with George Davis. If I have some metal work to be done, I take it to Dan.

      Dan of course learned this business from his father Cletus Todt. And my father, also Jack Rickard, went to Cletus at Todt Sheet metal, anytime he needed metal work done. Going back to I don’t know when because I wasn’t there. Could I get a box made for less money somewhere else? Do you see why this question doesn’t PRECISELY make sense to me?

      Dan and I aren’t beer drinking buddies. We don’t hunt together. We don’t play bridge. We don’t socialize together much although it is always nice to see him at a fish fry or some such. We are “friends” not really in a social sense. We are “friends” in a generational sense that goes back 75 or 100 years. So it isn’t about doing business with your buddies. It is about day in and day out, year in and year out, decade in and decade out, Dan knows about metal. He knows about it from when he was a very young boy. And George knows about glass in a way you can’t study glass at university. And If I want to do something stupid with glass or metal, they will support me in it. But they will note that there might be another way that wasn’t so freakin stupid. Making me, of course, brilliant, in a way I cannot be without going BACK to the first grade and instead of learning how to lay brick, I would have to learn glass. From someone who had done it all their lives.

      This kind of town, and that kind of “connectedness” has actually become so unusual it is essentially an anachronism. It no longer exists, except for here. And so the “connectedness” of everything worldwide is apparent to me by extension, and hidden from you by extension. You might view this as a philisophical “difference of opinion” which is how these things are cast these days. It is not. One of us has knowledge of it and the other is oblivious to it. It doesn’t have an opinion. It’s a demonstrable fact of the universe. I know how it works. Most don’t know that it exists at all.

      So understand that when I see someone violate connection for a couple hundred dollars in an every man for himself sense of what they THINK business IS, in hopelessly naive and child mind terms, just what I see. And I hope this gives you a little perspective of why I become offended. It’s like watching someone carefully lick their hands at the dinner table. This is PERFECTLY appropriate assuming you are a CAT about to feed. Not so much conventional with humanoids at Sunday Dinner. Context being all.

      I see an absolutely WORLDWIDE network of very intelligent men busily and productively working with some joy on converting cars to electric drive in a demonstration that will positively alter the future of personal transportation and indeed that vision is not only coming into play but we are WINNING a war that on declaration appeared absurd on the face of it. We are not a manifestation of Tesla or the Nissan Leaf. THEY are a manifestation of US. Indeed DO watch the JB Strauble presentation linked elsewhere in this commentary. He seems curiously unaware of several things he is actually saying in this presentation.

      Ranble, rant and rave. YOU increase OUR buying power in a chaotic, dazed, and confused market replete with largish liquidations of very bling hardware. In return, I think you will find the price of the Renault Influenza batteries very much to your liking. I don’t actually HAVE them here yet. So I’m a little hesitant to declare victory. If we get one out of four good ones, price being subject to change. But I’m told they are almost all new in box. If that turns out to be true, then I think you’ll be very pleased with the pricing.

      But please do continue I’d love to hear from others what the RIGHT price matrix would be. WE are only as good as MY sense of what that is in the value proposition.

      Jack Rickard

  13. I agree with caolivieri’s pricing evaluation. If the cells were offered at $3000 I would be hard pressed not to purchase at least one of them. That would be roughly equivalent to lead acid pricing.

  14. No warranty or support. Little documentation. Brand new packs. But enough cells to easily do most cars.

    Let’s break this into five or six RIGHT prices.

    PRICE ONE: Send it. You can’t get me one here fast enough. less than $4000 I’ll find a use for it somewhere.

    PRICE TWO: I’m going to buy one. Give me a week to get my money together. Hold it for me. $4500

    PRICE THREE: Attractive. I hope they are still available next build maybe. $6000

    PRICE FOUR: I’ll have to think about that/shop around. $7000 still a lot since I have 100 Calb’s sitting in my garage

    PRICE FIVE: I don’t find that a particularly attractive value. Little interest. $8000

    PRICE SIX: I can do better elsewhere – no sale. $8500 10% less than CALB,s I’d rather use a known

  15. Jack,

    Looking forward to seeing some bench testing of these batteries. Hopefully that will tell people enough they can fill out your list with actual numbers. I dont currently have an application that would use this pack. Been thinking about doing an 818 as a track car and considering a WarP11HV to power it. The question then becomes what batteries to use? There are the 130C Radio Control hobby packs that could probably in reality do 40C without cooking themselves so to do 1000 amps and not destroy the pack you need 25AH x 340 volts (81S5P). This is about a 7.5kwh pack. I remember pricing this a few months ago at around $14000 which was a bit pricey for me.

    We are seeing a terrible cold snap. The high is going to be 4F and it was -7F when I got up this morning. Everyone stay warm!


    1. Thru Jack, I know the CA cells, I want the CA cells, I am very comfortable with the CA cells, but Jack mentioned something about lead acid pricing and turned my head. My questions now; do they heat up in use more than CA, do they need a cooling system. What about the charge and discharge curves, cycle life yada yada. How is the pac put together, are the connections welded, can I take the pac apart and reconfigure, will I need new straps and bolts. Jack provides straps and bolts with the CA. My head is turned, now make me jump for two. I’m thinking solar collector, battery bank for storage and DC charging.

  16. Jack,
    Will you also be getting a CAN bus document on how to control this pack? Will there be any effort to have the GEVCU control the pack? Anything south of $3000 would be a big incentive! Is there any data how how many recharge cycles this chemistry and construction provides?


    1. Larry, On the road cycles. I have 28,000 miles on my Leaf and counting in just over 2 years. Im down abut 5 miles from when I first got my vehicle. I charge to 100% and drive it all the time. I don’t drive like a snail and don’t try to hypermile either. I don’t hotrod it around much either. Its spunky and fun. Would be a good pack for any vehicle. $3k put me down for two.

    1. Will be interesting to see if Tesla builds a battery plant as rumored. Me thinks battery availability is the weak link in their supply chain. And, If Musk’s timing is right, his first product of note may be a better battery based on JCESR IP.

      What better idea than to build them. sell them in your own cars, replace them, reuse them for secondary storage, then recycle the materials back to new batteries.

  17. Jack, I was just riveted by George Crabtree’s talk in this week’s video. I knew of the JCESR project, but I had no idea it was such a concerted, well planned and thought out endeavor. It’s the closest thing we’ll see to a “Manhattan Project” for batteries, and I think, for the first time, that my high hopes for a significant leap in battery technology my be justified. Thanks for sharing that. It will be very interesting to see how their discoveries make their way to market, and how long it takes.

  18. Test drove a BMW i3 today. It was a little more roomy on the inside than I though it would be. It drives great and has plenty of power. It is not Model S fast, but quick. At 6′-4″ I just do not fit in a lot of smaller car. However, I found this one to be quite comfortable. The steering column has a lot 6″ plus telescoping movement. This really help with taller drivers. The wife also like it and she is only 5′-2″ so this car should fit most people.

    My only gripe was the look of the pressed fiber material around the dash. It looks cheap and out of place In a$40-50k car. I can live with it, but a Matt black Finnish would look better. Too “Eco” for my taste. I see a huge aftermarket potential for cover panels on this one. This might well be a little side ventrue for me to finance my EV habit….

    The car handles very well. It has great visibility and is easy to get in and out of…the boot is small, but well shaped to hold most common items efficiently and the seats lower down.

    So, (other than a solar electric pontoon) this will be our next EV. We are going to order the REx version. That way I can use it for a couple of years as my company car and then donate it to the wife. This way the company can buy about 1/2 of it for me…

    I am keeping my reservation for the Model X, but I think Tesla is going to be a year or more late with the Model X. The have not even completed the design yet….. I think mass production is not likely until late 2015 or early 2016 but it is just a a guess based on my experiance in designing control systems for assembly lines for cars….

    1. In the two VW Golfs I have owned I noticed they have one or two more clicks back in the seat adjustment than other small cars. I think the German max size design criteria in cars is set to 6’6″, blonde with blue eyes.

    2. I got a chance to test drive the i3 also, I loved it, so much fun to drive, but I had to go for the Chevy volt for the wife. I did the math and the Volt is going to save me $5200 a year for the next 3 years over the Honda Pilot she was driving. Sure she lost lots of cargo space and 8000 miles a of driving a year, but no one needs that much space and 20K miles a year is too much driving so this lease will keep her on check, either that or i’m going to have to write a big check for going over the allowed miles at the end of the lease.

      1. He volt is an excellent choice. I found it a little too tight for a person my size. I do like the price much better than the i3 and it is probably more practicle in some ways. The i3 with a REx can make a long trip, but stopping every 60 miles or so would get old Ina hurry…

      2. I just love my Ampera (Vauxhall/Opel on the Volt platform). I did over 130 miles on each of three days last week which I could have only have otherwise done in a model S (but uncle Elon has hardly started selling RHD examples and when he does I’d have to sell my house to buy one).

        They are an evolutionary dead end (way too heavy and complex) but in the short term a brilliant stop gap

        1. I agree John,

          It is ashamed that the Volt got caught up in a political fire storm here in the US. I honestly believe that is the a great gateway drug to get people hooked on EV’s….

          Everyone I know who owns one quickly learns that what they love about the car is driving in electric only mode. The game becomes how to drive/charge so you almost never have to put gas in it…

          I think the REx version of the i3 will be the same game…

  19. I’ve got some Tesla news this week and I am not sure why I am so excited about it. They installed a four port supercharge station in Rapid City this last week. It is at the Rushmore Mall which is pretty conveniently located between two interstate exits just off of I-90. Now I am thinking of putting down a deposit on a model X. I posted some pictures on DIY and here is a link:

    If I had a Tesla I wouldn’t even bother to charge at home. Drive to the mall once a week and charge up while I eat dinner and shop.

    1. Get ready for a long wait. There are almost 7000 reservations right now. I am 6336. It looks like Tesla will be lucky to get a hand full out by the end of 2014. The current rumor is that full production will not start until the summer/fall of 2015…

      However, it should be one of the nicest cars ever built….period….

  20. I’m wrestling with Arduinos, opto-isolators, unreliable connections and all that stuff myself in the context of battery testing, and worrying about all the CANny stuff in the Civic – so I was lapping up the long march through the circuit diagrams of GEVCU this week.

    Experience suggest that I’m a lousy prophet, but I suspect that more of these devices may end up in cars running instruments, heating, air con and simulating ICE CAN messages than are actually used for controlling inverters. Indeed the question is often asked in the Arduino community “where can I get an Arduino with secure connections?”. If prices could be brought down in quantity it seems to me that these things could sell in millions.

    1. I actually said at one point in the GEVCU development mailing list that we would know when we won when somebody used it to run a home beer brewing operation.

      Part of the allure of Arduino for many or perhaps most is they are just trivially inexpensive – less than $40 per board for the DUe now. For me, the big part is the huge user base and ecosystem of code, information, libraries, shields, etc.

      Hardening it just costs. Those linear optoisolators are $10 a pop. The wireless board is $58 and I can’t get it to work. The DC-DC is $38. That’s right. The 1200ma 3.3v DC-DC converter costs about the same as an Arduino Due. Put it in a case. With a cable. We would have to sell a Brazillian of them to get any cost reductions at all. The one downside is I just think many will find it too expensive.

      GEVCU2 priced in at nearly $500 in components. We reworked it to get the price down and it looks like it may have gone up instead.

      Right now the cable set for this looks like $83 our cost. We’re having that refigured.

      But yes, you’ll basically have an Arduino Due with limted but isolated inputs and outputs, and the connections will be via AMPSEAL 35. It will be terribly useful, but $600-$700. You can buy the Motohawks AZD used for $400. But the toolchain costs $5000.

      No port in the storm I’m afraid. And all I have to do is fund 30 of them on the chance somebody MIGHT want one.

      But yes, I’ll use one to run an electric distilling system I’m putting together. Probably PWM an IGBT to precisely control the electric heating elements, couple of temperature inputs, etc.

      Jack RIckard

      1. Jack,

        I kind of new this was coming. I have worked with these small controller most of my life. The hard part is keeping the real world from killing them. You and your guys have done a great with the GEVCU. I do see it morphing into something with wider applications. The ironic part is that when you are done, it will resemble the little PLC’s that we use in our industrial control systems. The biggest advantage that they have is flexibility. Being able to simply add I/O when needed to the main processor is a huge advantage. You don’t have to do a board re-design to add a control module for a heater or some other device, you just add a couple of I/O cards and write the extra code.

        I highly recommend freezing the I/O count on the main GEVCU unit. You can always expand the I/O with modules on the CAN bus without needing to change the basic CPU hardware. CAN bus I/O cards are readily available. If fact that was the original intended use of CANbus before the automotive manufactures got a hold of it. In our world it is called DeviceNET which is a protocol layer on top of the CANbus.

        It also has the advantage of the fact that you can put the I/O in car where you need it in the car. For example, if you want to control the brake lights, you run a CAN cable to the back, mount a relay card and have at it. No need to wire the brake light all the way back to the front of the car. In fact this is how the lights work on most modern cars…

  21. I was finally able to watch the whole 6 Dec. news show. I felt you did an admirable job of explaining the GEVCM circuitry. I hope your installation instructions include a fuse in line with the 12v power source. Zener diodes will short out and the only protection against fire is any circuit protection you provide on the input. On the next iteration I would move the PTC fuse in front of the zener diode so that if it fails the damage is minimal. There is no need to scrap the existing design just be sure to add a fuse to the installation instructions.

    1. Randy:

      I don’t see much point in making a point of it. Generally, anything you can’t afford to repurchase, you should put a fuse on. What is the news here? That is ANYTHING in the car on the 12v system, or really any other system.

      But we did build in some ESD protection and some polarity protection, and so forth because we could.


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