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It’s a deal.

We’ve had quite a busy week, but not terribly productive. Just a lot of interruptions.

One of the pleasant ones was receipt of a brand new HPEVS AC-75 motor – a pre-production prototype. This motor goes into production within the next month and we’re very encouraged by it. The only really affordable, viable 3 phase drive train solution that has been available to us at any reasonable price for a vehicle conversion has been these fortunately excellent motors with the Curtis 1238 controller. HPEVS continues to improve their offerings.

Previously, the AC-50 represented the top of the line at 110 ft-lbs of torque. Coupled with the 96 volt Curtis 1238-7601, we actually did some builds with this combination and ran them on proven automotive dynomometers. By rather sharply exceeding the Curtis 96v to about 120v, we were able to coax that 110 ft lbs out to about 3700 rpm for 74 horsepower.

This new model AC-75 sports 180 ft lbs -an impressive increase of over 60%. Due to slightly different winding techniques, it will not go to 3700 at that torque. But torque at take off is actually where we want it. We’re not having difficulties at speed, particularly using our four speed VW transmissions.

What this effectively does is extend the utility of this very reasonably priced AC solution out to vehicles of nearly 4000 lbs. We really considered it optimal before at 2500 lbs and under. There have been 3500 lb vehicles using the AC-50, but we have to believe they were a little sluggish. Probably not so with hte AC-75.

More to come. The Curtis 1238 144v is rumored to FINALLY ship in December. This unit can be stressed a bit, perhaps as high as 160v. But the current available will unfortunately actually drop. They plan on a sister motor termed the AC-76 just for this controller. That pair should be very attractive.

I was a little stunned at the reaction to my chalk talk about lithium battery basics. Apparently with some segment of our viewership this type of information is of interest. The question did arise as to why CALB lists charging as from 0C to 45C. That means you shouldn’t charge below freezing, which almost doesn’t make sense. We can DRIVE the car down to -20C with nothing more than a fairly significant drop in power and capacity. So why do they list the charging at minimum 0C.

I did some reading on the topic this week and unfortunately it appears to be very real. Diffusion of lithium ions into carbon anode structures virtually stops below freezing and lithium metal plating on the anode results. This is irreversible. We recommend you actively heat your battery boxes if you need to charge at such temperatures.

The end of the week was a bit interrupted by a couple of viewers us alerting us to the auction being held by HGP to dispose of the inventory and such from failed electric car converter Azure Dynamics. Azure Dynamics has actually been around a long time and was part of the Solectria electric car back in the 90’s. They later offered this drive train with two motors, the AC-24 and AC-55 and a number of DIY converters used this system.

I have to confess I wasn’t much of a fan. It was fairly expensive. And the motors looked heavy and weak to me. The DMOC controllers were a bit complicated though that judegement was a bit clouded by my lack of famiiarity with them. But several people happened onto these and were rather stiffly told by Azure that they would NOT support them at all if they didn’t purchase them from them directly. And I was seriously put off by Beth Silverman’s frosty tone on this matter.

In any event, the company went on to hook up with Ford Motor COmpany to convert Ford’s Transit Connect small fleet van to electric drive. This looked like a pretty good marriage. A light commercial vehicle is almost a no-brainer for electric drive. Ford dealers would support the vehicle. And it was actually called a Ford Transit Connect.

We had a young man come from Canada to intern with us for a few weeks and he was very pleasant. He went almost immediately to work at AZD and reported very good things about the vehicle and drive train. He then left for Tesla just prior to AZD announcing their bankruptcy.

I was a little confused by all this. The tie with Ford seemed so strong, why would Ford let them go down in flames with customers who were actually pretty happy with this vehicle sort of left stranded? I could have seen Ford becoming an investor. I could even see Ford simply absorbing the company to give the appearance of continuity. But unfortunately, none of that happened. All AZD employees were laid off and that was the end.

HGP is a liquidation company and they go in, inventory all the stuff and sell it off for pennies on the dollar. This is the demise for mistakes in commerce. I actually view it broadly as a good thing. Inventory and buildings and things are recycled representing a windfall to other small operators who then might thrive. Our media has a child mind understanding of economics as a zero sum game. But as my golfing friend Tom Armbruster says, “Every swing is news. Good news for some. Bad news for others.” The people become available to other businesses, as does the buildings and inventory and tooling and so forth.

And of course so does the business. As it turns out, a small OEM in Australia were basing their efforts on the Azure Dynamics drive train. With the demise of AZD, they have picked up 150 drive trains from…..drum roll…. High Performance Electric Vehicles. And I consider HPEVS among the good guys. They have long sold individual units to DIY converters and actually provided extraordinary support for their products along the way. This is a very SMALL company with just a few employees. But somehow they find time to answer questions and help people with configurations.

And so the bad news for AZD is a rather LARGISH order by HPEVS standards. Cycle of life.

And so my view of economics and the rise and fall of companies is somewhat more complex and nuanced than Barrack Obamas. The idea of governments stepping in to prevent private companies from failing is strangely Stalinesque. And ultimately leads to the same problem. Rewarding failure and inefficiency and the UNSEEN side of that not counted is the punishment of the thrifty and the thriving.

In any event, I got on the online auction held by HGP and was kind of amazed at the quantity and quality of brand new unused components that were available. I rather took the opportunity to scoop them up. We should be able to offer these to our viewers at a rare firesale price, while still picking up a few ducats for EVTV. It took a somewhat frightening sudden expenditure of a bit over a hundred grand I don’t quite have laying around for this. But I think it will cause some excitement.

That the DMOC 645 is no longer supported by the manufacturer is a bit of a problem. But we picked up 66 of them. I’m confident we, and of course more likely our viewers, can work out how to use these and so a bit of a body of them will be around.

Better, they were NOT married to the Solectria motors. Rather, we picked up 60 of the Siemens 1P5135 4WS14 motors. These are actually wound for kind of lowish DC voltages down to 220v. They’re liquid cooled and of very high quality.

Somewhat more problematical is 19 Siemans ELFA Duo inverters. These are cadillac style devices. But getting info out of Siemens is again curiously difficult. Perhaps again, the Wisdom of Crowds can be employed to piece this out.

We did get a nearly complete Transit Connect WITH Johnson Controls 345volt battery pack AND a nearly fully assembled spare drive train for it.

But the real find was 48 BRUSA NLG513 chargers. I’ve always liked the Brusa chargers. But there is only one dealer for them in the U.S. and he’s notoriously difficult to deal with. And the pricing was just not attractive – $3700 for a 3.3kW charger just isn’t competitive. But they are very nicely built, fully configurable using a laptop, best of all, fully isolated. You can stack them.

We have a couple of charger solutions in the works. But currently do not even offer a charger solution on our website. This has been a gaping hole with all the CALB cells we’ve been selling. So we have several irons in the fire. But the sudden availability of 48 reasonably priced BRUSAs is an unexpected windfall.

All of this has kind of derailed our attention from our current projects. And I have to get back on that.

So a short blog this week. We also suffered a Final Cut Pro X upgrade that was actually quite extensive and in some ways very welcome. But it sure proved a puzzle on the learning curve over the weekend. Ergo the late show posting.

Stay with us.

Jack Rickard

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