I ride a electric hybrid bike. I can pedal, cruise electric only, or just use the electric to assist me on hills. I’ve driven electric utility carts, golf carts, and ridden Segway’s. Electric vehicles are fun, cheap to run, and much simpler to fix than their engined counterparts, as well as being very quiet and clean to operate, with little to no chemicals on site like oil, fuel, and emissions.
If you want a electric vehicle, other than buying a expensive commercial version, you can either design one from scratch, or convert an existing one. Conversion looks like the simpler method, but then you get all the design compromises of the original vehicle along with it. Designing from scratch means you get a vehicle that meets your specific need (assuming you were able to resolve what that specific need is).
For designing a vehicle, we use Electric Vehicles: Design and Build Your Own. For anything from a 2 wheel electric bike to a 4 wheel cargo truck or electric speedster, including hybrids, this is the one you want. You learn about suspensions, steering, drivetrain and instrumentation issues. It’s a dated work, but the basics are still applicable, and can easily be updated with today’s technology. A great spot to introduce Arduino microcontrollers.
For converting an existing vehicle to electric, my favorite is Convert It!. I have a ’94 For Ranger that is begging for a conversion.
This book is the leading how-to resource for electric car conversions. It combines Brown’s years of professional automotive experience with down-to-earth language even an automotive beginner can understand. It is not written for the engineer in the laboratory, but for the home mechanic building his own car, and for the average person behind the wheel.
Brown speaks to the reader as if talking to a friend in his garage. Before lifting a wrench, Brown answers the most frequently asked questions about electric cars: how fast will it go, how far will it go, how long will the batteries last, how pollution-free is it really, and many more.
The conversion process itself begins with choosing an appropriate donor chassis, and stripping it of internal combustion components. Here Brown’s experience provide numerous tips and tricks to make the later conversion process easier and more successful. Step by step, Brown leads the reader through the conversion. As each component comes up, Brown gives a little background on the different types available, and the pros and cons of each. He includes tips on layout, design and fabrication at each step, and discusses different approaches for different chassis, such as front wheel drive vs. rear wheel drive. By the end of the book, every part of the conversion process has been discussed. Brown wraps up with a procedure for testing and troubleshooting, and guidelines for normal driving, charging, and maintenance.
The book is salted heavily throughout with photos and diagrams to illustrate its topics, and it includes a very thorough index. CONVERT IT has been chosen by the Department of Energy and by numerous schools across the country as the textbook for high school electric car conversion projects.
Discuss electric vehicle construction and conversion at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/DIYElectricVehicles/