Friday, May 8, 2009


At this point, I'm leaning toward a Netgain Impulse 9 motor. Further updates will appear here.

New Shoes

The Cav is going to need new shoes after the conversion. 195/65/R15
Here's Goodyear's Low Rolling Resistance models

I'll add more models to the list as I find them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


The next big design decision is AC or DC...

With AC you can do regenerative braking, which means you can recapture some of the energy that would normally be lost during braking, extending the range.

Once again cost enters into the equation, DC systems are a couple thousand dollars cheaper than AC. The range benefit I'd get from AC isn't worth the $4 or $5 THOUSAND dollars extra I'd have to pay for the system.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I know some of you may be thinking, "Gee, doesn't the Mid-Atlantic get most of its power from dirty coal plants in West Virginia, and now he's just moving his tailpipe emissions over to WV."

The plan is to eventually get solar panels on the roof of the house to power the car and lower the amount of power we need from those coal plants. The first step was getting the solar thermal system up and running. The next big purchase will be PV.

Check out the movie "Kilowatt Ours" to see what our need for power has done to the mountains of West Virginia and to the health of the people in the Mid-Atlantic region.


When I started seriously thinking about converting the Cavalier, I thought about how I was going to use it. If I was going to be using it to go up to New Jersey every couple of weeks, then the design decisions would have to take that into account. I thought long and hard on this. I ran calculations. Lithium Ion were the only batteries that had any hope of getting me up to Jersey on a single charge. A battery pack would cost thousands. Thousands and thousands. My early guesstimates were between $8000 and $16,000 for the batteries alone. The Cav isn't worth much now, possibly $3000 if it was in primo condition, so the idea of stuffing $16,000 in batteries into it didn't really appeal to me.

After I finally retired the Cavalier from service, I realized that the new car (A Mazda5) and the Ford Escape would be better for any long distance trips. The Mazda is actually more comfortable and has more storage than the Cavalier...

So, I then thought the best job for the ECav would be for my wife to drive back and forth to work as well as other errands around the area. My wife works roughly 4 miles from home. She could park the Escape which gets crappy gas mileage in such a short stop and go commute and drive the ECav. That would allow me to get away with Lead Acid batteries which might cost $1600 at most and give me a range somewhere between 40 - 100 miles.

My daily commute is two trips to preschool on weekdays (2 miles each way - on sunny days we bike there), dialysis three times a week (3 miles each way), other errands (grocery store, Costco, hardware store, etc.), the farthest I might go on a trip is 10 miles one way. My in-laws live 36 miles away. If I plan for a range of 100 miles, then the only trips that I'll need a gas powered car for are the trips to New Jersey.


I purchased my 1995 Cavalier brand new when I was fresh out of college. The sales price was around $12,600. That was my first new car. It had 35 miles on the odometer when I test drove it, and 52 when I picked it up. It was a base model that had been special ordered to have the bumper color match the car (base models normally came with black bumpers), but the customer backed out and it was the only Manual Transmission on the lot when I showed up.

I had visited several dealers, but eventually purchased from J.R. Roof in the center of Newton, NJ.

The car needed and received exactly what you'd expect, oil changes, new tires, wipers, air filters, etc. There was a problem with the master cylinder for the clutch around 150,000 miles, so I had them replace the clutch at the same time. The Head Gasket wore out around 170,000 miles, but it still passed emissions and I never bothered to fix it. The car leaks all sorts of fluids these days and the engine has lost a lot of power, so around December my wife and I bought a new car to replace the Cavalier. The Cav is now parked in my garage awaiting repairs and the conversion process. The last time I drove the Cavalier, the power steering was no longer powered. I'm pretty sure that there is a problem with the tie rods as well. I'm also considering changing out the rear drum brakes for disks. I will also make some aerodynamic changes to the chassis.

I recently bought an engine hoist to pull the engine. This project will proceed as I get funds to purchase parts, so there may be large time gaps between entries.