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Went on quite a drive today. Everyone is concerned about the range of electric cars and fear it will be insufficient. At least when test driving, it is MORE than sufficient. It was again unseasonably warm, and two hours in the seat was a bit more than I had sought to enjoy.

I drove the beast out state highway 177 to country road V, thence to 177 to join US Highway 61 North. Highway 61 is one of those old scenic highways that was once a national artery, bypassed by the Interstate largely. It’s a lot like Route 66 but about five less.

This is hilly, winding blacktop road through scenic country. Speed limit ranges from 40 to 65. I drove it between 50 and 60/65 almost entirely. I did finish at 70 mph for a 10 mile stretch on I 55 coming home. The route took me to Perryville Missouri, which has a reasonable facsimile of a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Cape Girardeau’s KFC is notorious mostly for food poisoning.

The route convered 171.9 kilometers or 106.83 miles. We consumed 173.5 of our 180 theoretical ampere-hours. The Xantrex LinkPro made this quite easy to monitor. Of course, therein lies a tale. The result is 1.009 AH per KM or a little over 1.6 amp hours per mile. This works out to right at 190kWh per mile for the car. We also weighed it last week at 1986 lbs. This is nearly 200 lbs lighter than Speedster Senior at 2190. We did NOT have the hood an bonnet on part Duh when we weighed it though.

There are a couple of things notable about this. This drive is within 2/10ths of the longest drive in Speedster Senior. We get virtually identical AH per mile. The AC induction motor, 3 phase controller, and pressure tranducer driven regenerative braking, all put together, amount to just about NOTHING.

We have heard this chant about regenerative braking for years now. I did plenty of braking. We went down plenty of hills. We slowed into plenty of curves. The supposedly more efficient AC motor and the regenerative braking CANNOT BE DETECTED WITH TEST INSTRUMENTS. It’s all a fraud. A lovely theory. A hope for efficiency. But a fraud.

You can niggle this to death however you want. More in the city. Stronger regen settings. Weaker regen settings. Regen on neutral and regen on braking only. We had regen. We started. We stopped. We did hills. No impact. Nada.

Yes, we’ll do further experiments to see ensure apples to apples and oranges to oranges. The Speedster Senior is nearly 200 lbs heavier for example. But comparing these two vehicles, I find one thing VERY interesting. A lot of effort to go to a 3 phase controller, ac induction motor, etc. It would appear that if you are bemoaning the limited capabilities of the Netgain Warp 9 motor, you’ve been reading too much of too many people typing themselves smart. The old DC series motor and controller work fine. And the improvements you’ll get with AC induction are mostly in your mind. Ok, you don’t have to change brushes. Beyond that, methinks much over little.

The reports of 20% gains from regen are just total bullshit – off the table forever. Doesn’t happen. How does this get started? Well some of these people are arithmetically crippled for one thing. The only thing I can imagine is they are recording 120 AH out, 20 AH regen, net 100 AH and concluding a 20% efficiency. First, the math is wrong. But second, the thinking is flawed.

We count amp hours to determine how much energy is used to go forward. The point is to go forward. Not to manipulate amp hours. It might be that coasting is a better use of the energy than all that regening.

Truth to tell, I had turned off the neutral braking regen for this trip and DID coast. I assumed I would get SOMETHING from braking. Apparently not much. I can’t find it in the rounding errors.

Here are the finished cell voltages:

Cell 1 2.973
Cell 2 3.007
Cell 3 2.979
Cell 4 2.991
Cell 5 2.993
Cell 6 2.944
Cell 7 2.956
Cell 8 2.978
Cell 9 2.956
Cell 10 2.992

Cell 11 3.142
Cell 12 3.165
Cell 13 3.151
Cell 14 3.166
Cell 15 3.135
Cell 16 3.166
Cell 17 3.168
Cell 18 3.178
Cell 19 3.170
Cell 20 3.181
Cell 21 3.163
Cell 22 3.140
Cell 23 3.156
Cell 24 3.170
Cell 25 3.150
Cell 26 3.168
Cell 27 3.151
Cell 28 3.161
Cell 29 3.163
Cell 30 3.165
Cell 31 3.168
Cell 32 3.161
Cell 33 3.155
Cell 34 3.137
Cell 35 3.153
Cell 36 3.169

Anyone notice anything beyond the skipped line I inserted to call your attention to it? The cells are remarkably well “balanced” I thought for this end of the discharge curve. Clearly the cells have more than 180AH capacity. At 173 we really aren’t down to the magic 3.00 volt level. There was probably another 10 miles in the car. Very pleased I didn’t drive them.

This largely because the FIRST 10 cells are significantly lower than the rest. Why? Well, we have the Xantrex LinkPro connected to them. And while it features a very modest drain normally, I really like the backlight and have it on all the time. Unfortunately, the first 10 cells are what we use to power the Xantrex. And it is on 24×7 of course.

We’ve only been driving 3 weeks. Over the course of a year, this could lead to a serious difference in these cells, and ultimately the death of some. We can’t turn the car loose on nonEV enthusiasts without fixing it. And I’ve no idea how to fix it. In fact, I’m having more instrumentation ideas all along, but they all come from the concept of powering from the traction pack to avoid isolation issues with the 12vdc system.

We HAVE to have an AH counter. And we CAN’T have an AH counter. I don’t know.

The daughter box, which has been reduced to a daughter potentiometer and a couple of wires, worked marvelously. It came and went for about two miles. It would run normally, and then trail off as the throttle divider cut in. Then it would regain somehow and go some more, and then cut in again. After five or six iterations, it just stayed cut in and we had to limp home. It would limp ok. But it was clearly a sign the car was hurt and we had to creep home. I had it set a little generously because I wanted to see how far the car would go. WE’ll simply set it for a battery size of 144 AH and use the 0% level to trigger. This will limit the cars range to 144 km of course, about 90 miles.

As noted in the video, we had a problem with the tachometer cutting out at 3500 rpm. It was a simple fix. On the theory that the thing was turning into a generator and overdriving our tachometer, we installed a 7.5kohm resistor between the signal lead and ground lead. Problem gone. The tach is rock steady and confirmed in accuracy by the weeny little numbers on the Curtis 840 display.

The heat exchanger wasn’t getting rid of enough heat. We installed the old oil cooler that came with Speedster Senior in its place. Works great now. A little noisy.

If we are in third gear, and we press on the brakes deploying regen, it pops the transmission out of third gear. We’ve tested the shift mechanism extensively. The guys at Long Street agree that it has to be the transmission. So we have to pull the transmission, seal it in a manila envelope, and mail it to them – using an extra postage stamp I suppose. Easier said than done. Does ANYONE test ANYTHING before they ship it these days? Do you have any idea how many components we receive from American companies that are DOA out of the box? In fact, it is about a 1 out of 6 chance it won’t even be the item we ordered at all.

Do you know how many we’ve received from China? None. Never. Nothing. Well…. we DID receive a charger from Thundersky several years ago with the voltage adjust knob broken off and missing. I couldn’t figure out how to adjust it. Then I looked at the product photos online and saw what it was SUPPOSED to look like. We had a replacement in 3 days.

In any event, I’m very pleased with the car. It’s a 100 mile car. We’ll set daughter mode at 90 miles just for grins and to protect the cells. But it will do 100 miles driven for pleasure. We made no attempt at “hypermiling” or anything like that. It wll undoubtedly do more in town. And it will undoubtedly do less all freeway. But the winding country blacktop highway we took it on is just perfect for a Porsche. And yes, I’m a little tired from the two hour drive in the sun, but it was really quite enjoyable all the way around.

As to range, I guess it’s a matter of seeing a glass half full. I’m amazed it will go this far this fast on batteries. I may never get over it. It’s all the driving I want to do in a day. And it does it well.

Jack Rickard