Your Mileage May Vary…


This week we start right off in our efforts to deliver a sub 3-hour long and boring video with a look at the Environmental Protection Agency’s October release of their annual TRENDS report, this for 2014 which in true governmental fashion really deals with the world as it is LAST year at the end of 2013.

As customary in our blogs, I’ve provided a link to the full report for your own use and examination. It contains MUCH more data than we very selectively extracted because we thought it was interesting and you may find that YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. Click the title page to download the full report in all it’s PDFness and glory.

Some of the cheery goodness of this report is that it does go back to those cars of yore and yesteryear and I found a couple of items remarkable. I was legally empowered by the state of Missouri to operate a motor vehicle in 1970 actually with a permit at age 15. I think I drove on that for about 3 years before actually getting a license.

In any event, automobiles in 1975 sported an average 0-60 time somewhere over 14 seconds in those days and a peak horsepower of about 136. Today, at over 200 hp they average 8.2 seconds for that same span. Despite the much higher power and much improved acceleration, the fuel economy has likewise improved from some 13 mpg to over 28 today. Viewed in the context of a lifetime, it is really almost magical how much improved automobiles are today over then. A car with 100,000 miles on it in 1975 was considered “shot” and really not worth repairing. Today, you would find a vehicle that required any notable maintenance beyond the usual tires, battery, filters, fluids before 150,000 miles as a “lemon.”

So the Darwinian evolution of the automobile in a free or mostly free marketplace has provided a remarkable result. And frankly, the corporate automakers are really quite good at grinding out evolutionary or incremental improvements year after year to the degree that 41 years later, the car is just a marvel. All of them.

We also extracted some data and combined it with weights to produce our own chart which we scrolled up the screen. Perhaps more handily here, listing the plug-in electric vehicles only – no hybrids, along with their weights and energy usage in kiloWatt hours per mile. The EPA is somewhat stuck on MPG and they have extended that to electric vehicles with the concept of MPG equivalent or MPGe. And that is to say that a gallon of gasoline has 33,705 Watt-hours of electrical energy in it, which of course it does not. But it ostensibly contains the EQUIVALENT energy to 33,705 Watt hours and if you could convert that to electricity at 100% efficiency that is what you would have. Then you calculate how many MILES you can travel on a 33,705 Watt gallon, and that is your MPGe – often over 100 for plug-in electric vehicles.


I find that all strangely tortured. Apparently so did the EPA because they handily listed the electric cars in how many kiloWatt hours per 100 miles driven. Better, but we’re still doing math in our head. But it is easy enough to carry the decimal place two digits to get to where WE have been all along – Watthours per mile.

I like this much better for several reasons. First, we are billed by the electric company by the kiloWatt hour. But it hopefully doesn’t take a full kiloWatt to drive a mile unless you are in an 8000 lb Cadillac Escalade. Second, our batteries decrease in voltage as we drive from fully charged to empty. So an ampere hour, which is easy for us to measure with current equipment, actually VARIES in the amount of true power it represents. An AH at 335 volts is NOT the same amount of power as it is at 325volts.

And so Watt-hours per mile is my favorite measure of energy efficiency in an electric automobile. It will be constant regardless of battery state of charge. It most truly represents the amount of work being done.

That few of us can either afford or find a hiding place in our car for enough batteries to actually hold 33,705 Watt hours of energy – that in one gallon of gasoline, pretty much puts a point on the vastly superior efficiency of driving electric in the first place.

For those of you contemplating the process of converting an existing car to electric magnetic drive, you probably have a few questions. We are rather intimately familiar with those questions in that we get a lot of them here and they don’t vary very much. The heart of the initial design process when starting out is to determine how many/what size batteries will I need in the car to achieve a certain range and performance and mostly range. Battery seletion is of course a bit complicated by the voltage and current demands of your controller and motor. But after that, you have a lot of leeway as it turns out.

Almost immediately when we started publishing the videos in May of 2009, this was the central question we recieved in literally hundreds of e-mails per day. And they continue today – literally a couple of hundred e-mails per day. So we developed a rule of thumb. Rules of thumb are always rough – quick calculations that will get you close to an answer without any arithmetical heroics. But this one is complicated by a stark reality of electric vehicles – the range you get is ENORMOUSLY variable based on how you drive the car. One of our 356 Porsche Speedsters, my favorite electric car Speedster Duh, could drive 186 miles on a charge at 40 mph on flat ground. On normal hills and freeway at 75 mph, we would see something like 70 miles total range. And so you could forgive me saying that the RANGE of Speedster Duh, was precisely 128 miles per charge, plus or minus 58 miles. In other words, any range you want within those limits.

And that’s with me driving it. YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. Point being, your mileage WILL vary and it will vary on any given drive and for numerous reasons including your mood, the terrain, the temperature, whether your are using air conditioning or heat, speed, and what specific brand of cologne you use to drive the ladies wild on the way. Because of course THAT varies the weight of the prospective LADY you are likely to attract to the seat beside you…

This is not very satisfying, I realize. The CENTRAL question surrounding all battery operated vehcles is always, always, and forever always HOW FAR WILL IT GO. And ironically, ALL answers to this question are essentially nonsense. Knowing and deliberate lies or unknowing and forgiveable lies, but lies they are. And on the next drive it WILL vary.

So immediately on uploading the video, I had an e-mail from a BMW i3 driver noting that the EPA had this ALL entirely wrong and he got entirely different results and had the PROOF POSITIVE right there in his hand and freshly minted JUST THIS VERY AFTERNOON. Now how am I to respond to that?

The EPA uses, or more properly requires the automakers to use, a very defined “driving cycle” that is to be performed rather automagically on a dynomometer. It includes accelerations, decelerations, coasting, and carrying on, in a vain attempt to formulaically reduce a mix of city and freeway driving into one specific performable procedure. It is not so much intended to be accurate as it is to be relatively accurate. That is, if we run one car through this and compare it to another car, the results will be valid for comparing the cars, not as they are particularly valid with regards to any particular driving experience – ergo YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. But if it does, it will likely not vary between these two cars any differently from anyone else. It is a relative comparison of the CARS THEMSELVES and their fuel efficiency. We are intentionally trying to factor the driver and all the OTHER variables OUT of the measurement.

Back to our budding Henry Ford and his attempt to convert a car – if the answer is there isn’t any answer, that kind of stymies the inventive juices. It is a curiously poor and unsatisfying answer. And so we came up with a rule of thumb. And that rule, based on just our own outcomes, was that for every 10 lbs of car, it will require 1 Watt hour of energy to cover 1 mile of travel. I think I originally weasle worded it as 9 to 11 with 11 being good, and 9 being a not so good outcome, which is how we actually DO measure these things in our own builds.

It is simple. Straightforward. And easy to calculate. And note that we can ourselves move it around at will on any given drive. It is based on the observation, that AFTER we did all our test drives, and just began driving the car NORMALLY as a daily driver, that if we logged the kWh consumed and the miles driven OVER THE COURSE OF A MONTH, that it always seemed to come out at 10:1. And in applying it as a PREDICTOR, we were remarkably successful in predicting the ultimate driving range of our build vehicles using this rule of thumb.

So a couple of things strike me about the EPA study of electric cars. If we average them ALL TOGETHER, it comes out to 9.97 pounds per Watt hour per mile. I find that enormously gratifying in validating our rule of thumb. And in the obverse, I find it enormously confirming that the EPA drive cycle is probably a pretty accurate rendition of how we roll around here at least. It appears to be a very real world and valid drive cycle design.

Would you believe that Tesla Model S did VERY well on this at 12.22:1? While the SmartforTwoED, which we have found their corporate management none to Smart, is predictably enough down around 6.5. That the BMW i3, with their use of advanced carbon fiber reinforced plastic and aluminum had the BEST show at 270 Wh/m?

I guess on a broader front, I find that John Metric can easily out accelerate the very best Tesla Model S with a homebuilt car. And I find that we and any of our viewers can routinely achieve efficiencies precisely on par with what the average OEM can. And so despite the overwhelming advantage VW has with a $13 BILLION DOLLAR research and development budget why is it that Robert Kerns invented the intermittent windshield wiper?

Kearns won one of the best known patent infringement cases against Ford Motor Company (1978–1990) and a case against Chrysler Corporation (1982–1992). Having invented and patented the intermittent windshield wiper mechanism in 1964, which was useful in light rain or mist, he tried to interest the “Big Three” auto makers in licensing the technology. They all rejected his proposal, yet began to install intermittent wipers in their cars, beginning in 1969. They of course lawyered him into old age, but eventually he DID win lawsuits against both Ford and Chrysler. Ford settled and paid him but Chrysler did not. Some 28 years after filing his patent, Chrysler paid him over $30 million in fees and interest.

Kevin Smith of Illuminati was down this past weekend showing me his linear permanent magnet motor. About the size of a shock absorber, it puts out a varying AC voltage of 72 volts. He intends to install it on Illuminati and use a small transformer to kick that value up to pack voltage and a small bridge rectifier to punch it into his battery pack. Hopefully converting potholes into usable Watt hours or at least Watt minutes.

I actually prefer the Escalade to the Model S. I know you will assume this derives from my pride of ownership in that I built it. I’ll admit I enjoyed the process, but I’m not really keen on such vanities. It is more a matter of fighting my way DOWN to 294 lbs from 311 and my ability to get in and sit down in the vehicle, and what the seats and ride and view looks like. I climb UP to sit DOWN in a great big padded recliner, sitting up HIGH with great visibility in the Escalade. And I actually have physical contortion to get DOWN INTO the Model S, get straightened out, in seats that really don’t fit me, while looking UP at other people’s hubcaps. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a GREAT car. But why don’t I drive the Escalade today, and let the wife drive the ModelS, and we’ll all be happy. That way I get a nice warm glow knowing my dear wife is all dressed up in a very fancy electric car that everyone comments on. And my back and ass doesn’t hurt. In fact, the Escalade blows cold air through pores in the seat right up my ass.

In truth, ALL great American fortunes have been based on technological innovation. With the result that ALL adult American males really fancy themselves some sort of inventor or another. With the result that a huge number of people are trying to come up with the intermittent wiper. And HUGE corporations which every year get their pick of the litter from the TOP engineering schools in the WORLD, with the resources to spend $13 billion dollars JUST on research and development, actually gain very little, if any, advantage over Robert Kerns or Kevin Smith. In fact it is astounding how LITTLE advantage they have.

At a General Motors meeting CEO Daniel Akers asked the group how many patents it had filed in the past year. The beaming answer as OVER 800 PATENTS. He then asked them, How many of those will be used in a car this year?” The implication was none. But the truth was, nobody really knew.

We are working on the Lear chargers right now, with no documentation, no product support of course, trying to make them charge – and I’m pleased to report with good success. They have a pantent on getting two of the chargers to charge at the same time through some not very interesting to me master/slave folderall. The reason it isn’t very interesting, is that it is trivial to have two of them charge the same battery pack anyway. No magic required. They are both isolated. Set one to charge to the maximum level, and the other to charge to a little less. So I would offer that the annual tonnage in patent applications, and the emergence of useful technical innovation, do not express a linear function.

To my knowledge, Kerns had ONE patent. But it was sufficiently useful, that within five years of filing it, all three of the major automakers of the day had it in their cars.

Do not misunderstand my point here. I started this blog noting the evolutionary incremental improvement of the automobile over the past 41 years as virtually MAGIC and much if not most of that was just the sort of incremental improvement/development that large corporations do VERY WELL. But disruptive innovations that change things dramatically tend to come, in almost 100% of the cases, from individuals working out of their garage.

And more to my liking, it would appear that by several measures, the handwork coming out of individual garages has no need to tip their hat to General Motors or Volkswagen or BMW. My personal belief is that the transition from fossile fuel vehicles to magnetic drive will REQUIRE a re-evaluation of the cost and performance metrics of every single solitary item of the car right down to the design and weight of the hubcaps. The ENTIRE vehicle has to be done over. And this will result in a parallel movement of both incremental revisit and Darwinism among the large corporations, and series of break-throughs and sudden disruptive inventions from thousands of individuals, many entirely OUTSIDE the normal automotive millieu. If Stanford’s Yi Qui succeeds with a lithium anode battery, it is a TOTAL gamechanger. But his connection with Detroit would be limited to the fact that I assume he at least DRIVES a car.

I have a privileged vantage point. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s I was able to observe first hand the development of technology to suppport a network of networks – finally termed “the inter-net.” In every case I can think of, a guy, maybe two – a basement – or sometimes a shed – and NO COGNIZANCE AT ALL that anything they were doing was really earth shattering, or really very useful beyond the particular and peculiar problem they were facing at the moment. Of the 4.7 billion now on the Internet, I was usually the only one in the room even asking about it. It always looked weeny. It rarely worked right at the moment. And the only times I ever heard that this was going to change the world, was from a couple of blowhard self-promoters who were never heard from again and I can’t for the life of me put a name to the faces I still see contorted with a twisted and often bizarre view of the future.

But I do remember literally HUNDREDS, nay THOUSANDS of press releases from large corporate telephone companies denouncing the entire concept, and noting that any way if anything like that ever NEEDED to be done they were the ones to do it anyway. In a strange way, ultimately they were right. But the problem was they couldn’t INVENT it and they couldn’t get it there, they could only profit by scaling it up once it was well underway.

So I think many changes are in the future, and the weight of history would indicate that it will come from someone we’ve never heard of yet. That’s just the way it happens. The ultimate electric personal mobility car or device has yet to be invented. I would mark Tesla as the AppleII/Visicalc moment. But it’s not the terminus of technology in cars.

The cars our viewers are building, appear to be on par with the best Detroit and Wolfsburg can produce. As we adopt some of the OEM’s own supplier channels for components such as chargers, motors, and controllers, I sternly believe our cars will get better, as will theirs.

There is one curious disconnect here. And it has to do with the kind of battery cells we use, and the kind they use. They are using lithium manganese and lithium cobalt ionic cells that normally provide higher energy density than our LiFePo4 cells do. They kind of have to which I think is unfortunate because the LiFePo4 cells are enormously safer and more durable over time. But after selecting these high density cells, they “package” them in hundreds of pounds of armor to protect them – typically soft pouch cells, though Tesla uses consumer camera battery cells. The Renault Fluenze battery packs we sold last March were just extreme. HUNDREDS of pounds of metal that had NOTHING to do with storing energy.

We do it a bit differently and I will be surprised if they don’t arrive at this in Detroit before it is all over. We have individually armored cells – with JUST ENOUGH shell casing to keep them from harm. And they interconnect kind of like lego blocks. So we can use actually very light and inexpensive aluminum boxes to house them. The net result is that our energy density to weight is actually BETTER than theirs and most likely our energy density to volume as well.

I can hear the response now – OEM cars have to be engineered for safety while you home garage guys drive bombs. Hey OUR cars aren’t the ones burning to the ground – generally speaking. In fact, lets hook em up. We’ll T-bone your car and you T-bone ours, and let’s see how they fare in a demolition derby. I’ll take that bet all day.

So one of the reasons our cars compare favorably with the OEMs for efficiency, is that we just deal with battery armor and mounting very differently. We use individually armored and contained cells, in very lightweight aluminum boxes. They build a bank safe and put lots of smaller softer cells in them. But the bank safe is heavy and inefficient.

And I’m thoroughly struck by the EPA numbers and our rule of thumb. This week we receive our FIRST signficant batch of CAM80FI cells – an initial stock of some 300. For any given capacity, these cells feature 60% of the volume and 80% of the weight of the previous CA series LiFePo4 cell. Part of this is just thinner armor and a metal instead of plastic shell. But they hold the potential to somewhat dramatically improve our numbers.

I would like nothing better than for you to take these and DISPROVE our rule of thumb – that the appropriate “rule of thumb” should be the Tesla mark: 12:1 instead of our extant 10:1 working number.

One of our main themes for the end of 2014 and going into 2015 is to access the same supply chain as the OEMs. Using the motors, controllers, chargers, DC-DC converters, etc that they use. But frankly I much prefer our battery strategy to theirs. I think if you look at the two little battery boxes that offer to power the Green Thing to a 96 mile range, you’ll see why. It’s all about power, energy, and weight. And to a lesser degree, drag. And we are going to a very good place there with these new cells.

So you are FINALLY able to get lithium cells at a relative bargain. We have the good old SE series cells in the store NOW at 95cents per AH – a price level that has simply not been routinely seen in the EV market. But if you are working on the next great car, and want it to truly compete with anything Japan or Detroit or Germany can produce, you can – with these new smaller cells.

Jack Rickard


42 thoughts on “Your Mileage May Vary…”

  1. Very true Jack, most ground breaking research has always come from an individual or small group working on there own time and money. The problem with Corporate research is it is Locked in a Mindset of Profit First and Academic/Political Correctness Second. Corporations are good for Refining Inprovement over Someone else Inovative Ideas.

  2. Thanks Jack, I was going to take Fiero over to the grain farmer’s scale and weigh it but at 1 wh/mile per 10 pounds I can just take my 288 watt hours per mile and figure out that it weighs 2880 lbs, plus or minus 5.8 pounds based on my driving habits. It will be interesting to see how close it comes to that number when I finally get around to putting it on the scale but from my calculations of what the car weighed stock and the weight that was removed and added, the figure is reasonably close. It would also be interesting to remove the 277 pounds of cells in the front of the car that are not hooked up and see if I lose 27.7 watt hours from the current 288 watt hours per mile.

  3. This week’s show made me curious about the difference in cost/performance/weight of the CAM cells versus the CA cells, and how it might apply to my car. So I figured, what’s the harm in running the numbers? I know the weight of my car, and I know that it falls right in line with the 10:1, weight:watt hour rating, so it becomes a simple exercise of “building out” a new pack, determining it’s weight and energy capacity, and then figuring out what the range of the car would be with that pack under its new weight. What I found was, I think, worth sharing.

    The car weighs 2834 lbs. without batteries. The current batteries propelled the car 60 miles when new. My desire would be that a new pack would duplicate that range.

    To duplicate a 60 mile range with CA100 cells, I would need a total of 60 cells. Here’s how it breaks down:
    Pack weight – 450 lbs.
    Car weight – 3284 lbs.
    Footprint in sq. inches – 871.2
    Total Wh – 19,980
    Range – 60.8 miles
    Total Cost – $8,340

    If I were to use 60 of the CAM80 cells instead, we see the following:
    Pack weight – 288 lbs.
    Car weight – 3122 lbs.
    Footprint in sq. inches – 766.05
    Total Wh – 15,984
    Range – 51.2 miles
    Total Cost – $8,100

    So the pack would be 162 lbs. lighter, and cost $240 less! However, I’d lose 9.6 miles of range. Frankly, I was surprised it was only 9.6 miles that was lost. If I could live with that loss of range, I’d opt for that in a heartbeat, and truthfully, I might anyway. But what if I wanted to keep the 60 mile range? It turns out that 72 CAM80s would do that:
    Pack Weight – 345.6 lbs.
    Car weight – 3179.6 lbs.
    Footprint in sq. inches – 919.25
    Total Wh – 19180
    Range – 60.3 miles
    Cost – $9,720

    That means for my car to get a 60 mile range with the CAM cells, I would have to pay $1,380 more, or a 14.2% premium over the CA100s. Not bad, but that’s not the whole story. If you figure out the volume of space that the two different packs would take up, you come up with the CA cells occupying 4.285 cubic ft. of space, whereas the CAM cells would occupy 2.66 cubic ft. For those of you keeping score, that’s a 38% reduction in the volumetric space required to hold the cells. That’s huge!

    If you’re interested in the foot print, we find the pendulum swinging the other way. Though each CAM cell’s square inch footprint is less than the CAs (12.77 vs 14.52), the increase in number of cells needed to get the same range means the CAM cells take up slightly more room, 919 sq. inches vs. 871 for the CAs. If I were satisfied with a 51 mile range and went with 60 CAM cells instead of 72, the CAM cells would use less space and I’d gain 105 sq. inches.

    As you can see this data illustrates Jack’s point quite well. Though the cells may be more expensive per kWh, if you take into account the weight savings and space savings they offer, I think they present a good value proposition. With space at a premium in many conversions, these batteries become a way to actually purchase extra space for your remaining components (extra space being something I’ve never seen for sale on the shelves at Lowes). There were times when I was building my car that I would have given my kingdom for 1.6 extra cubic feet of space.

    Tim Catellier

    1. michel bertrand

      You can fudge the numbers till the cows come home , AH`s are AH`s. If you are building a car with a specific range in mind the Cams are way more expensive, Just like my Liyuan supercapacitor batteries.
      Of course there is a little bonus in extra space and weight.

      If you are building a performance oriented car, where price and range is not a factor, the Calb CA,SE, and sinopolys become a liability ,and the higher discharge batteries actually become cheaper ,when considering the amount of power needed for your build. IMHO of course.
      Michel Bertrand

      1. You’re right Michel, and there’s no getting around it, the CAM cells are more expensive. Like I demonstrated in this circumstance, 14.2% more expensive. Before I worked the numbers, I expected a far higher difference, and I was surprised to find out that it was as low as it is. However, if you need the space, and there’s no way around it, then that 14.2% isn’t that bad a penalty to pay. But let’s be clear, there is no “fudging” going on here. These are straight, easy to replicate, calculations. To my mind, “fudging” implies dishonesty.

        Tim Catellier

        1. If you factor in that CA100:s actually have quite a bit more capacity than 100AH (when new) your numbers would be different though. I still like the CAM cells a lot, but the real life difference in capacity is greater than 20AH between the cells…

          1. I have a (nominally) 12kW-hr pack of CA100s. I am looking forward to the day when I can get a 24 kW-hr pack in the same volume. Not many years at the present rate of progress…

        2. michel bertrand

          No dishonesty was implied . You have created a scenario where the difference between the new Cams and the calbs might seem at least a little attractive. Not many people who are converting their cars strive to attain a 60 mile range on their battery pack. Since when has that figure become the norm?
          100-120 miles of range has always been the standard to achieve. Now plot in your numbers, and see what you come up with. I think you will find that the wife might not take it so well, when you tell her it`s now $2760 more, for the shiny blue ones.
          I love the new cams ,but they are not a better battery, They are just more expensive!…and way more powerful! BTW I love your build…regards michel

          1. Michel, you’re right that I created a scenario for the comparison, but that was rather the point. I wanted to know how they would fit in MY car. When performing this little exercise for my car I was surprised by a few things that I discovered and just thought I’d share that with the community, and perhaps encourage others to try the same exercise. Maybe they will find when they do the comparison for their build that the CAs are better and maybe they find the additional cost of the CAMs is worth it. Who knows, you don’t know unless you try. As far as the 60 mile range goes, I never meant to imply that was something for everyone to shoot for or some sort of standard. It was simply the measurement I chose to use because that’s what my car’s range has always been. I’d give my eye teeth to get the Z3 up to a 100 mile range, but there was simply no more room for batteries. As I’ve told people, the only reason I used 48 of the SE cells is because 49 wouldn’t fit. The CAM cells, would provide a bit more room for extra cells and push me ever closer to that elusive 100 mile goal. If that’s my goal then the price IS worth it.

            @Suza: You’re absolutely right that I ignored the additional capacity that comes with the CA cells. I did that intentionally, though I don’t have a real strong reason for doing that. Largely it’s because the extra capacity in the CA cells has been observed to be anything from an extra 7 up to 11%. Meaning you can’t count on it as hard and fast number, it’s a bit squishy. I prefer to think of that extra capacity as sort of a safety cushion that helps to prolong the batteries life, but that’s me. Of course you can run the numbers for your build anyway you want; include the extra capacity or don’t. It’s like Jack says, “Your mileage may vary.” My whole point with the initial post was, and apparently I made it poorly, that this little exercise is worth doing for your build. You might learn something.

            Tim Catellier

        3. Tim;
          Thanks for the comparison data. I love the fact that the CAM cells are smaller and lighter. Makes a much easier and more efficient build. I have one problem when looking at them for my future Vega. They don’t seem to have the power of the CA cells. The CAM80 has a 10 second burst rating of 8C or 640 amps. The CA100 has a 10 second rating of 10C or 1000 amps. My plan is to use the CA180 which has a 30 second burst rating of 10C or 1800 amps. They look to have the potential to give me my ~ 2000 amp draw I’d like to achieve while drag racing. With the CAM80 cells I would have to parallel (3) packs to get the ~ 2000 amp draw. Here again this is for my specific needs. For a small build like an MG, Datsun, Triumph, etc with limited space, they could be the game winner.

      2. Mr. Bertrand:

        I rather intensely resent both the tone and the substance of your message here. Just who are you implying is fudging what and to what purpose?

        Beyond that, what you are saying is nonsense. It is true the CAMs are signficantly more expensive PER AH, but I rather clearly demonstrated precisely how you could obtain the same range on less cells. There is no “fudging” to it, and we don’t do cows.

        Rather to the point AH’s are NOT AH’s. We all use a different number of AH’s with differing voltages at different weights and volumes to get any particular range. And the weight and volume required by the battery cells is a significant part of the weight and volume of the automobile. In the case presented, over a 1/6th of the weight.

        I have tested your Liyuan batteries and dealt with the company that sells them. We do not offer them. And there are several reasons for that. Your mileage may vary.

        Either an apology or just pouring gasoline over your head and doing the usual public self immolation thing would be acceptable.

        Jack Rickard

        1. @Tim Catellier, No offense intended. Thank you for taking the time doing the calculations for all those who are thinking of building a car right now. I would love to build a car with the CAM80 cells myself mostly because of the volumetric gains. Still, I don’t think it’s an easy decision to make in general when the CA cells are as good as they are, especially if the car has ample space for batteries.

          I really wanted some of those CA70 cells, but they never showed up I guess. They would have been a great size (regarding dimensions) for my application. Now the CAM80 cells have arrived which are even better but in my case the number of cells will be same so the total pack price will be significantly dearer than I would have hoped.

          1. We were rather totally clear and totally upfront in both the video and the blog – the CAM series cells come at a signficant premium. We even compared the price of 100 CA60 cells ($8900 I think) and the cost of 100 CAM72 cells ($12500) FOR you. The CAM80’s are more like $13,500.

            And frankly, I don’t find any performance improvement as far as current abillities or life cycle or cold weather performance etc. But it DOES make a build easier because of the volume difference which is really quite huge – as Tim calculated – 38%. Manufacturer claims 40%.

            And they are also lighter.

            We CHOSE to do a full 100 CAM72 cells and so our max range on a VW THING went from 80 miles to 96 miles AND we ditched an entire battery box in the process AND lost 15 lbs.

            But I could not help but point out that to do the SAME range, you would use less cells and so the cost difference was not AS GREAT as it first appeared. Particularly if you included the cost of another battery box.

            The objection to that is of course that the lower voltage will give you less “power” to the motor. Ergo a big long explanation, which “fudges” nothing, regarding the relationship between battery voltage and current and motor voltage and current particularly with the AC systems we are talking about now and have pretty much gone over to at EVTV. It’s a more complex topic than apparently some of you believe, but the basics are that most AC drive trains will actually GIVE you the lowest battery voltage at which you make FULL power. Having voltage HIGHER than that does NOT give you more power, it only gives you more range.

            And so we can see if range is the game, an AH really is NOT an AH. Range is a function of energy storage capacity, which is a direct function of both voltage and ampere-hour capacity. 300v x 100AH is 30kWh and 400v x 100Ah is 40kWh.

            Is it worth it? Child mind discussion. It depends on what you are doing and what you want to do with your car. I was pointing out that it is a little bit more complicated than this cell is $89 and this one is $125. First, they are not the same sized cell. And we were very upfront as well that a 72Ah CAM cell is just 72Ah barely. And a 60Ah CA cell TENDS to be higher than 60Ah. But all that is guaranteed REMAINS 60Ah. As a practical matter, if you have one cell that IS 60AH, that’s all you are going to get from the pack anyway, even if others are higher.

            What isn’t really at issue is that you WILL have a better build and a better car with the CAM series. They just take up less space, weigh less, and carry you further for any given amount of energy.

            If you’re doing an S10 pickup, you probably don’t have weight and volume issues. They run on lead acid actually. But a Z3 or a Speedster, or a Miata, or a Porsche, it’s a huge deal. You just don’t HAVE spaces for batteries that come as easily. The geometries in those cars can drive you so nuts you’ll hang yourself.

            The problem Tim has, as we do here at EVTV as well, is your existing batteries work so well, and last so long, that it makes no economic sense to replace them. By far the majority of our vehicles still have SE cells and they just keep on plugging along. 100 of the now obsolete SE100 cells we offer now is $9500 but if I COULD squeeze them into a VW Thing, we’d have a 32kWh pack for a range of 125 miles – even with the additional weight.

            So unless you have a crying need for solar storage using your old cells, CAM series only makes sense on new builds to my way of thinking.
            And I thank Tim for basically confirming our arithmetic. It will come out about that way every time.


    2. My electric motorcycle has 29 of SE40AHA cells and since the CAM80FIs are about the same size (if put on their side), I could double the range of the bike simply by swapping the 40Ah cells to newest 80Ah cells. In other words go from 3.7 kWh pack to 7.4 kWh in the same space.

  4. Jack,

    Although many EV detractors have branded the LEAF an “electric Versa” and the Volt an “electric Cruze”, neither car actually is. Both companies used the ICE platforms as test mules for the drivetrains, but the bodies/chassis of production versions are unique to the plug-in models. I’m not saying they don’t share the occasional part and styling cue, but, unlike the eGolfs, smart EDs, et al., there’s no LEAF or Volt LEAF ICE-only equivalent.

    1. And I would say there definitely is. The similarity between the Versa and the Leaf goes quite beyond sharing a few parts. Simliarly the Volt and the Cruz. They very specifically and very deliberately took those models and “converted” them to electric drive. It is simply inarguable.

      That the result comes out different is obvious. Our VW Things are far from what came out of Wolfsburg. But they are converted VW Things.

      The Tesla Roadster was quite different from the Lotus Elise. But it was actually a converted Lotus Elise and was made by Lotus.

      So saying it isn’t doesn’t make it an isn’t. And saying it is, doesn’t make it an is. You are the unfortunate victim of corpspeak.

      The only cars designed from the ground up as electric cars is the Tesla Model S, the BMW i3, and perhapes the iMiev.

      Jack Rickard

    2. I just finished reading the eBook “Tesla Motors: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool and Sparked the Next Tech Revolution” by Charles Morris. It’s a good read for Tesla fanbois, and walks through the history of Tesla with all of the ups and downs, finishing up quite recently.

      A couple of things I didn’t know – despite most people thinking the the Tesla Roadster was an electrified Lotus Elise, it ended up using only about 8% of the original Lotus Elise parts. Tesla needed to stretch the chassis for battery room, made their own body panels, etc. They then hired Lotus Engineering to do the suspension design and tuning for the new chassis, weight and weight distribution.

      Another thing I didn’t know was in 2000, JB Straubel converted a Porsche 944 and set a quarter-mile world record, so he has some garage conversion cred.

  5. As a follow up to my earlier post regarding watt hours per mile, the weight of my Fiero was amazingly close to the weight calculated from the 288 watt hours per mile or 2880 pounds. Brian Couchene read my post and offered to loan me his scales, so now I know the rest of the story!

    The Fiero weighed 2626 pounds and when you add the weight of my fat ass, you come up with 2825 pounds, only 254 pounds difference; Well with in the “Your mileage may vary” accuracy level.

    The weight distribution was fairly close to being balanced until I weighed the car with me in it; Do you set your cars up to be balanced without a driver or do you set them up using the driver’s weight also? In the case of my Fiero, and I would think your speedsters, the stock weight with the ice would be heavier in the rear, do you try to make them 50/50 weight distribution when you convert to electric or try to leave the front a little lighter?

  6. Jack, thanks for the solar update. I just about had a seizure though when I saw the shading from that tree on a good 12 modules of the array at that moment in time. The SolarEdge module MPPT maximizer / smart inverter pairing will mitigate some of the normal string-inverter crushing of your power, but it still hurts to see that. Is it morning or afternoon sun? How long does the shading occur for? Is that your neighbour’s tree? Could they be persuaded to trim it with a suitable bribe? Sorry, solar geek going through withdrawal here in Thailand. I used to wash my array every Sunday morning…

    1. You used to WASH your solar array every Sunday morning. Man, you have a BAD ass case of solaritus.

      It’s kind of amazing what we DO get out of it with all that shade. The tree is in the southwest corner of the array. So yes, it is quite bad.

      It’s a slum next door. I’ll have to find out who owns it and pay him to take it down. I doubt he would care. I’m sure those in it are renters.

      Jack Rickard

  7. I’m a week behind on the shows (been one of those weeks). I shall be splashing out on the Chademo rig. In another year I should be able to go anywhere in the Civic at a reasonable pace (Ecotricity already have three stations between here and Bristol 84 miles away).

    1. Only seen CHAdeMO once in my life and spoiled for the rest of it. No more bricks and no box of cables in my trunk. No fighting snakes, put in the hose, unplug and get away. Takes about the same time I would spend at a gas station.

      I thought Tesla has won, except there are far more CHAdeMO and with one as my neighbor I am optimistic of more to grow. With e8enery at the low end it is “easy” to install a charger. You dont need 100 kW plus to join. With 20 kW i-MiEV, Leaf and co get about as much juice as a Renault Zoe might get from a Menneckes if the infrastructure would allow it.

      The CEE 400V / 32A is the biggest socket you can get without moving a lot of red tape. That is about 20 kW for most of us. If you need more you need your own power plant and batteries. Some utilities try to downsize hoseholds to max CEE 400V / 16A sockets and you can downgrade the e8enery by switching off half of the electronics so it is satisfied delivering 10 kW. I have been charging at Mitsubishi Ruesselsheim twice. Most of the time 17 kW with a peak of 18 kW for a short time.

      I am very interested what Anne is doing. Maybe get a lorry to bring our i-MiEV close enough to visit him for charging.

      Peter and Karin

  8. I think that I see that you have all ready generated a megawatt. If so if your panels last about 33 years you may have by then generated a gigawatt!! That’s a lot of coal.

  9. Coming home from having a nice breakfast outside in the cold at a farm and cafe. It has been some 12 Celsius or a little more than 50 Farenheit.

    Two dogs are the farms homeland security. What is that dog doing behind our car (i-MiEV)?

    Later I found out. The dog inspected all the cars in the parking lot, comparing exhaust pipes.

    The dogs do know our car already and they know it does not make “putput” but today they learned something new.

    Peter and Karin

  10. Jack,

    The studio section of your show has had the colors messed up for the last 4 weeks. I think you use final Cut Pro. Everything was great before so presumably you have accidentally changed some setting which is tinting everything red when you are doing the keying.

    I demand that you return the money that I have paid you to produce the show that I watch each week! A cheque is OK.

    Thanks. 😉

  11. “So the Darwinian evolution of the automobile in a free or mostly free marketplace has provided a remarkable result.”

    You didn’t go back far enough – cars in the 1960’s got far better fuel economy and performance than in 1975. I though you were old enough to remember that. A 1967-68 327 cubic inch Camaro with M/T would go 0-60 in 7 seconds or so and get about 25 mpg.

    1975 was indeed an awful year for US car manufacturers who were facing a big jump in the CO an NOx emission standards they had to meet while at the same time not yet facing CAFE standards – and still stuck in the distinctly US mindset of bigger and bigger V-8’s instead of the European path of better and better efficiency. 1975 was a singularly awful year for US made cars.

    But after that, most improvements in car reliability, and all improvements in safety, were entirely driven by government regulations. Car manufacturers had to be dragged kicking and screaming to even drop the old lousy Kettering point-and-condenser ignition systems to electronic ignition systems, because of emissions requirements starting in 1975 could only be met with catalytic converters – which needed to have engines that ran in a consistent high state of tune. They would have never made these these improvements without the regulations driving them to – there was too much money to be made selling points and condensers and dealer tune-ups every 3000 miles.

    Same with other regulation-driven improvements both emission and CAFE requirements – the replacement of carburetors with EFI, ECM’s variable valve lift, variable valve timing… None of these improvements, which increased car cost and reduced dealer repair income, would have been done if only “the market” had been relied on.

    1. Your thesis that cars in the 1960’s had better fuel efficiency is demonstrably nonsense. There were fuel efficient cars, but the data we look at here is the AVERAGE fuel economy and that was truly abysmal in 1966/1967. I AM old enough to recall it. My mother’s Pontiac Bonneville got a smokin 7 miles per gallon as I recall.

      And your further thesis that the gains in efficency are derived from government regulation is also essentially nonsense. The regulations of 1975 and indeed essentially all of them through 1990 were solely devoted to EMISSION control, not fuel efficiency. The dramatic increase in gasoline prices and ascendency of Japanese models such as the Honda and Toyota – purely market forces, caused the revolution in Detroit toward smaller more fuel efficient cars.

      I recall distinctly the gasoline shortage of 1978 in San Diego. A friend at the time had a Honda that was almost a joke – basically a motorcycle engine in a tiny car. He paid $3200 for the car new, a very low price at the time. A year later, he sold it USED for $3800 – they were so in demand.

      It always astounds me that the young communist homosexual democrat segment of our world can be so lost as to cause and effect that they continually propose nonsense regulations and remedies that NEVER work out. But their facility for rationalization is even more astounding, and if the entire history of everything has to be rewritten in their own minds to blame failure on the inability to get MORE dramatically stupid solutions passed in the first place.

      Bottom line, you don’t know what you’re talking about because you are insufficiently equipped to do critical thinking on cause and effect. I’m afraid there is no school to correct that.

      Jack Rickard

  12. Pingback: Nissan Leaf - Page 32 - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum -

  13. Pingback: Feasability of going from gas to only electric - Page 4 - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum -

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