Interesting week. We had a visit from Wayne Alexander of EV-Blue Conversions in Walton Kansas. We had a great time talking, which he does love to do, and I may have overrun my budget of time for him on the show, but I thought I would include most of it for a couple of reasons.
We’re very unlike in our approach to EV’s, yet we hit it off rather marvelously. He’s been doing them for a very long time (since 1974) and more recently he does a LOT of them (143 in the past four years). So while we agree on little, I thought it important you hear what he has to say.
Wayne does EV for food. He’ll convert anything for $12,500. That’s a lead acid conversion, and we all know my feelings about lead. But he makes a case. People want to drive electric, and their budget is not unlimited. He’s done some LiFePo4, but is clearly more comfortable with lead.
He favors standard components – Netgain motors and Curtis controllers. And he winds up doing 35-40 cars per year.
We actually had a ball talking about all of that. He’ll put in anything the customer wants, but those are the designs he considers his bread and butter.
I had a great segment on a 100 mile drive we made in the Speedster AND the Spyder. Ran the Speedster entirely out and the Spyder down to parade rest and had some interesting results from that – two cars with some significant time and miles, living BMS free one day at a time. But I cut that out – we’ll push it to next weeks show.
About a year ago I got a call from Jonathan Goodwin. He mostly converts Hummers to biodiesel, but had gotten involved in a project with Neil Young on a 1959 Lincoln Continental they were calling the Linc Volt. Apparently Neil had seen the videos and kind of got enthused, as he is wont to do about a lot of things. I talked with Goodwin and Perrone at length about the immediate questions and implored them to eschew the BMS top balance thing etc. of course.
Neil started corresponding by e-mail and by telephone quite extensively. We talked about them driving through Cape Girardeau on a cross country trip they were planning in the Linc Volt and he was going to do a documentary on it. In fact, we discussed something even more bizarre, going partners with him on his 1938 Meteor – a classic wooden launch that we would power by battery and capstone Turbine.
The Linc Volt had a bit of a secret life. They had decided they could use a Wankel engine and a UQM generator to build a hydrolyzer to make hydrogen, then use the hydrogen to run the Wankel in the usual copper foil helmet concept of perpetual motion. We argued over this somewhat heatedly for some time, and Young had an uncanny ability to catch me on the phone when I was deep in the garage among the wiskey barrels.
In any event, the Meteor never got done. But the capstone went into the Link Volt and the Wankel hydrogen thing went away.
The car came out to be absolutely stunning. Ostensibly 50 miles using High Power cells (not my recommendation frankly but less expensive). And with the Capstone Turbine, a 400 mile range running on natural gas, diesel, biodiesel, etc. The turbines are heavy, and they start at about $30,000. But he wants to do this cross country thing.
The guy filming the documentary was a close friend, and he died suddenly last January.
In any event, they wound up keynoting the SEMA show November 2nd and the Linc Volt was a huge hit. She was all dressed up, and everywhere to go. Young gave an impassioned speech about the need for no compromises go green with large cars that people like. On this, he is so all over it. Right now buyers are returning to the Escalade, Yukon and Denali in droves and you can’t give a Prius away at all.
On November 9, in the early AM, the Linc Volt burned to the ground, taking a good bit of warehouse with it. It was definitely the car that started the fire. They are alluding to a “problem charging” with human error. The human error was having a BMS on it, and using it to control the charging of the car of course. Took the fire department most of an hour to get it out.
The car was truly beautiful. The message was beautiful. And Young was passionate about it. I’m crushed, and I never got to see the car and indeed Young and I have never met except by e-mail and phone. I can imagine how he feels about it. He CAN’T imagine how I do. Those dirty BMSs. You try rubbing them out and scrubbing them out, still everybody in the country is UNANIMOUS – you HAVE to have a BMS. They burn cars to the ground.
I’ve got some contacts in the battery scene. They provided me some shots from the SH2 battery trade show in Shenzhen China – including some shots of the new Gray cells that I’m now told will be available in February. The company naturally doesn’t want to hurt current cell sales by announcing any of this before the switchover is announced. They also were showing a blue 200AH cell and a blue 210 AH cell that was very short but wide. I can’t wait to get more information on these new batteries. I think this will be important.
We have the motor and transmission back in the Mini Cooper. The new controller is mounted. And we’ve made some very interesting changes in the cooling and heating systems in the car – we’ve combined them into one. It can’t possibly work. But I’ve kind of decided to start from the assumption that the controller and motor CAN heat the car, and the car CAN cool the motor and controller, and work backwards from there, adding components until it either does or doesn’t. Should be interesting.