Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cleaner Feel and Look

I finally got around to giving the car a good exterior wash after many months of collecting dust inside the garage and only getting rinsed by rain while sitting in the driveway. Now, the car not only feels clean but it also looks clean. The EV stickers on the sides have replaced the old LX stickers from the car's previous ICE life.

With every day that passes, the car mingles into traffic with all the other ICE vehicles on the road and many thoughts come to mind.

Thoughts like;

"Why is everyone so anxious to go nowhere so fast in traffic?"

"Wow, look at all these tailpipes...wonder if anyone has noticed that this car doesn't have one?"

"It's amazing how far I can coast before coming to a stop".

"Where will we be in a couple of years from now with battery and energy storage technology...will the next major breakthrough really be in super/ultra capacitors?"

I recently read that researchers have found a way to transport electricity wirelessly. Imagine that. It's called witricity.

As I cross the Champlain bridge during my daily commute to and from work, I also can't help but smile and laugh inside of me when I see the huge illuminated signs displaying messages like "Look for alternate transportation and save fuel" or "Take the bus and avoid the fuss". In my case, I have certainly found alternate transportation that doesn't use a drop of fuel. I also spent almost a year travelling on public transit during the EV conversion process and can say that it was a decent experience that allowed me to relax and read while riding on the bus and subway as well as walk on a more regular basis. This is important when you have a relatively sedentary job like I do. With more time in my hands, now I can get back to my old exercise routine and enjoy the EV commute and contemplate further improvements I'd like to make.


Lensman said...

Great to see your progress, car is looking very nice indeed, I want one! ;)

I know its early days with the car, but, Ive got a few questions for you if you dont mind answering them...

1) Do you find the dual heaters drain the batteries appreciably?
2) With the new shocks fitted at the back, is the ride much firmer (was the original protege equipped with sports suspension)?
3) Hows the acceleration, worse/same/better than the ICE version ?
4) Not sure from your blog, but was the protege's original ECU kept, if so what other issues did you have with getting to behave without an ICE?

Thanks for your time in advance, and please keep us informed how you get on with your EV, it was a pleasure reading your build blog. All the very best...

Alek Kenton.
England, UK.

Jim and Elizabeth Karamalis said...


Thank you for the kind words and good questions. Here are my answers in order.

1) I am now just starting to use the heat as the days are getting cooler. So far, using only one heater is enough and I my feeling is that it will suffice even in cold winter days. The second heater will likely come in handy on very bad weather days when the windshield is covered in ice. Looking at my volmeter when one heater is switched on, the drop is minute and the current draw on the ammeter is not even noticable. The PTC elements I am using are rated at 1000 watts so with approx. 120-130 volts the draw is around ten amps. This is like a drop in the bucket right now since the heater only stays on for a very short period of time. If both heaters are used and left on for most of my commute, I will obviously have to consider the extra energy consumed to adjust my range expectations. I have been told by other EV users in Canada that one should consider an additional 20-30% of energy consumed for heat and hence 20-30% range reduction. This makes sense and I believe it is a safe estimate.

2) The original Protege LX was not equipped with sport suspension. In my case, I only changed the rear springs for added firmness (500 LBS rate added). This may not have the most desirable ride effect making it stiff at the back and softer up front. I am personally used to it but my wife does finds it a bit hard to get used to.

There are two options for improving this. Option 1 is to put the matching firm springs in the front but this will likely add more firmness to the overall ride. Option 2 is to replace the firm rear springs with other softer custom springs (similar to the original ones) but that are longer to compensate for the loss of height in the back due to the added weight from the batteries.

3) The acceleration is qood and I am happy with it but it is not the same as with the ICE (slightly worse). Keep in mind that I don't drive the car very hard or aggressively but it does respond well when it is driven harder. I would say that it accelerates similar or better off a jump start but less overall.

4) Yes, I did keep the original ECU and I can say there were no issues at all. Currently, there are some warning lights that are always lit on my instrument cluster due to the ICE removal. For example, the GAS low indicator, ENGINE light, and BATTERY light. This is obviously normal since there is no gas tank, no ICE and no alternator. All this can be resolved by tapping into the instrument cluster wiring to switch off these indicators or rewire for something else.

Hope this helps.