77 Beetle Conv EV


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This 1977 Volkswagen Beetle is in the process of being converted from operating on gasoline to running on battery power.  

The conversion parts are expected to cost about $3,000.00  

Performance data to follow

Expected time frame for conversion 2 Months

Pictures, Dates, and story:

This 77' Beetle convertible came from Circleville, OH.

The beetle engine is still good, although the carburetor needs rebuilt and 
the fuel is old.  

The engine was covered in enough oil and grease to easily catch this little car on fire if not completely cleaned.  No matter, this engine has a one way ticket, soon to be replaced by a durable, maintenance free electric motor.

While far from a perfect paint job, this project won't require immediate and extensive body and paint work.  This project should be able to quickly progress into the conversion process.

The beetle is being delivered to the "EV Garage" (Garage not shown)

Before gas tank removal

After gas tank removal. 
This is to be the battery compartment.  
Planned is 6 - 12 Volt Trojan 150AH Deep cycle batteries. 

The IC-Engine is out


The incoming electric motor sits next to the outgoing ICE

The new electric motor first test fit. Look at all that room!

We'll see how it performs.  The motor ratings are sketchy, but
it is said to be 30HP and 4,000-8,000RPM operating speed.

Here is a picture of the beetle before simulating a front battery load

After adding 360 LBS the factory springs were mostly compressed.
This caused a "rethinking" of the original plans to install most of the
batteries in the front of the VW.


Here is another picture of the beetle with 320 LBS in the front.
Each planned battery would weigh 82LBS

With 4 batteries in the front, the added weight would be 328 LBS.
The plans are to get the car on the road quickly and with minimal 
modification.  There is ample room in the front of the super beetle
layout for several batteries, but the consequences in handling, etc.
may cause a reversal in plans.  It is still not known how many batteries
will be required  for acceptable range and speed.  This is my first
conversion, and my requirements are 55MPH or less and a range of 
20 miles would be acceptable (without running the batteries down too far) .
I plan on showing the car at the 2006 old car show and when people ask
"how far will it go" if I tell them 20 miles they would think the car was
useless.  Most people don't realize that 20 - 30 miles between charges is
more than adequate for most of us.  Using minimal batteries (keeping weight
down) should make the car more efficient, cheaper to build, and less costly
battery replacement.  On the other side of the coin, if I go for the full 8 batteries
instead of 5-7 as originally planned, I can get maximum range, acceleration,
and battery wear.  The tradeoff is a heaver, more complex and more expensive
conversion.  If I go with the 96 volts, I can get a better idea of EV range with the 
motor, batteries, and aerodynamics and overall weight of the Beetle.

As a side benefit, I estimate the possibility of 80 miles max range bragging rights.
I'm sure several at the car show would still be less than impressed by the battery 
limitations.  I guess those people would be happier to see a little generator on board
to provide unlimited range.  My driving needs do not require such distance driving. 

It all goes back to will it take you were you need to go, and will it be sufficiently charged when you are ready  to drive. 

Update 02APR2006

The Beetle went to the body shop for required rust repair on the floor and for repairs where the convertible top attaches to the body. - Well, It seemed obvious considering the $1,000 estimate for repairs compared to $2,500 or so for a paint job, so it got painted.  And More!  The Beetle convertible now sports a near factory color (Cool White), New floor boards, Complete body undercoating, and reconditioned convertible top mechanicals. This electric VW Beetle convertible is going to be nice!

What a nice job.  Well worth the money!

Now the reassembly and EV conversion begins. There is a deadline on this project.  It needs to be on the road and ready for the 2006 Old car club show here in Lancaster, Ohio on June 3rd.  Deadlines are good! 

Also, during this time the newest project, a 1982 VW Vanagon is going to get the EV mechanicals swapped over from the broken ElectraVan. (Too much burning rubber for the 25 year old Subaru transmission to take!)  The Vanagon would be great as an EV.  The little ElectraVan is already missed, but it may come back in a few years with a updated AC powered drive train with regenerative braking.  That little ElectraVan's brakes were really taxed during any and all stops.  But it did manage.  It only asked the best of defensive driving to be employed continually.  I'm sure everybody drives like that!  The Vanagon is planned to get the exact mechanicals and batteries from the ElectraVan.  It will be interesting to note the differences in performance and driving range between the two vehicles.  It will be nice having a EV van back. This time the van is bigger, stronger, and safer.  It just won't get those special looks as the ElectraVan received. You just knew that you were looking at something special when you saw that little van coming up the road!  What a perfect combination, Big Battery pack, Strong electric motor, utility, and unique looks packaged in dinky, lightweight body.  It was one of the best of an era. 

ElectraVan link

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