Can you have an electric car for $5,000? If everything goes as planned for Rich Benoit, that will show you can. He has established this budget to create his electric Mini and has so far spent $1,500 on the car alone. The newest addition to the project was the electric motor, and it cost Benoit $200.
For that money, the youtuber managed to get a NetGain Warp9. This motor works with 72V – six 12V batteries, if you prefer – generates 32.3 hp (24 kW) and 70 lb-ft (94.9 Nm) of torque.
Benoit estimates you can get a used one for $1,100. We have searched for a new one, and it can cost even more: $2,400. By searching for it in colleges and schools, Benoit managed to get it for less than 10 percent of the original price.
As Rich Rebuilds videos usually go, they have the entertainment part and the useful information bits. This tip to search for parts in schools belongs to the latter. Something else people willing to embark on a conversion project would like to know is that buying other conversion projects may land you with parts that would cost a fortune otherwise, such as inverters and controllers.
To keep things as cheap as possible, the youtuber preserved most of Mini's original structure, including its transmission. In other words, the future Mini EV will have a manual transmission. Benoit mentions he’ll need no clutch, and the explanation for that is really nice.
Combustion engines need to keep running once they are started – hence idle. Apart from the rotating mass of the engine, they also have the flywheel. This is why a clutch is necessary: to disconnect the transmission from the engine and the flywheel and prevent the gear from getting toothless.
An electric car does not have as much spinning mass pushing the transmission. With that, the syncros – synchronizer rings – can avoid problems without the help of the clutch. It is just a matter of releasing the accelerator pedal, selecting the gear you want, and waiting – as if you were shifting at the right RPM without using the clutch. The syncros will do the rest. Due to the immediate torque availability, you’ll probably end up running in first or second all the time anyway.
We are now curious to see how Benoit will give this motor the 72V it needs to run and which batteries he will use. Will he put six 12V lead-acid batteries in sequence to get that, as the video shows he did to test the motor? Is there a 72V battery pack available anywhere? In case you are wondering, Zero Motorcycles battery packs work at 102V.
Regardless of the battery solution Benoit comes up with, we hope he can place it where the fuel tank previously was. And that he can spend even less than $5,000 to get this done.
Source: Rich Rebuilds