First Drive – Foundation is Set!

This has been in the making for just over two years, the car has finally made its first lap around the block. Now it did this drive in its most basic state possible, but this was a challenge for me to prove that my idea worked before investing all my time in the fine details. There are a number of non-road ready elements that still need to be ironed out before going out on public roads.

But regardless, it worked! I was able to hit the normal gas pedal, and the motor reacted immediately. It was a huge breakthrough for the project and has given me a stronger dedication to making it something special. All the road blocks and difficulty I went through doing this by hand in my garage has finally proven to be worth something. It feels even more significant for myself as I mainly did all the work for this project without any power tools. The work was almost exclusively done with $20 worth of Craftsman ratchets and wrenches.

So what is the current state of the internals?

As mentioned earlier, this drive happened on the bare minimum just to see if it moved. There are many upgrades to come, but this is a strong enough foundation to start on.

  • Motor: GE 9″
    • 144kW (199hp)
  • Batteries: 6 x 200Ah Lead Acid truck batteries
    • 72v 14.4kW (6.5kw usable)
  • Controller: EP-1000 controller
    • Up to 210v 1000a
  • Transmission:
    • Stock BMW ZF transmission
    • Modified from AWD to RWD
  • Charger:
    • Delta-Q QuiQ Charge 72v 1kW charger

In terms of upgrades, there’s a lot of potential from here. The first two things on my list to upgrade are the batteries and the transmission. Right now, the car is running on 72v. This was okay for the majority of my short drive, but one spot with a hill showed me that it still needs some extra power to drive normally. So making a duplicate lead acid pack will double the available power for the system. And because I purchased a 72v charger for about $90, getting a second one for the second pack is a simple upgrade.

The transmission is another area I want to address. The current transmission is intended for an AWD car, but this configuration needed to be modified to RWD. The transmission still has a transfer case on it that attempts to split the power to both wheels. The output for the no longer existent front wheels is held in place with some steel, but this is bound to break or the transfer case fail, so I am already looking to change this. There is some brackets that would need to be designed, the RWD transmission has different mounting spots and is shorter, so a longer drive shaft would need to be purchased too. I am just going to run this one until it breaks, it’s now worthless with the cutting I did to it, but the upgrade is already on my mind.

Overall, the project is set up to really become something special. I am excited to see the future of this car, the power will fit that car well and it should be a comfortable ride. I was impressed with how well aligned I was able to get the motor and transmission, the car showed no real vibrations or loud sounds. This was a huge moment that was 2 years in the making, and I am looking forward to how this project evolves.

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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