Motor Acquired

Ever since the idea of the conversion was conceived, my main concern has been the motor. It’s one of, if not the most, important component in the conversion. I needed one that could easily and reliably move ~3500lbs, and one that could also reach highway speeds.

Time and time again, I searched through eBay, craigslist, various forms, and all of the top EV conversion parts sites, to no avail. I always found the same items with the same shortcomings or roadblocks. Some were way too expensive, some required expensive controllers, some didn’t spin fast enough, some needed higher voltages, some just did not have enough power, the list goes on. Nothing seemed to fit the bill.

But then a helping hand came along, by the name of Paul. Originally, I had seen a motor on a website by the name of with outstanding specs and a price of $999. I sent the owner an email and asked about the motor and if he could work on the price slightly. As it turned out, the webpage was a bit of a fluke. It was put up so that people that bought the motor outside of the US could show the customs officers an actual listing, as a receipt was not enough. The price was also much lower, as tax outside of the US is much higher, so they lowered the price of the motor to compensate for the increased tax rate. I was bummed, the perfect motor was too good to be true. At least, that’s what I thought.

As it turned out, Paul was still interested in my project and wanted to help out. And with his company, it’s a standard practice for people to trade in their components to upgrade to newer/better items. These items get remanufactured and sold back at a discounted price. And as it so happened, one motor had just been turned back in. A General Electric 9″ motor, with the exact same specs of the motor I originally inquired about.

The Motor:

  •  26 kW –  continuous
  • 79 kW –  5 min 
  • 109 kW  –  30 seconds
  • 144 volt
  • 550 amp max
  • GE 5BT series, $6k-$7k new
  • Built in fan
  • And the real kicker, I got it for $600.

There were a few other items thrown in, about $500 worth of parts that he was generous enough to donate. They will definitely come in handy, and when the time comes, I’ll discuss what those are. But for now, I believe this is the best progress I have had so far, and now I am on the search for a controller. Batteries are not as much of a concern right now, I can get Lead Acid for a very low cost to test the car with, and then I’ll worry about upgrading to lithium at that stage. 

About the author

Jameson Toper

I am a Computer Science Student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and I have a strong passion towards the field of electric vehicles. When I am not working on this project, I teach a Computer Science course and make music.

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