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Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:53 pm
by IssacZachary
Yes, working on a car can be a love-hate relationship. But there are those of us who always seem to have a hard time finding a decent mechanic. I don't know why but 9 out of 10 times I go to any mechanic it seems the car comes back worse than when I took it in. (For an example, once the mechanic cut the brake line and we ended slamming into the back of our land lord's truck. And I have several more stories just like that.) So I've ended up doing all my own mechanic work, even doing my own alignments.

Of course when you tinker on a car you many times start wanting to modify it. Maybe you want more power or better fuel mileage or something else. For an example I had a 1,500W engine block heater on a car that I just got in and went to work without idling the engine to warm it up even in -40°F weather since the engine was already warmed up to running temperature. I even thought about adding a big thermos that would hold hot coolant in it and then pump that into the engine right before taking off in the morning.

One thing I really wanted to do was do an EV conversion. I even got a car that was known to be easy to convert to a BEV, a classic VW Beetle. But then I got a Leaf instead. At first I wanted to do so many things to it: add more battery cells, add more chargers, add solar panels, add an emergency ICE range extender. Or at least some day take a 40 or 60 kWh battery out of a wrecked Leaf and throw it into my Leaf.

But alas! Every time I even mention working on my Leaf I both tell myself and am told by others the horrible danger of working on it. Sadly that means the Leaf won't work for me. It will never go as far as I want it to without modification. If I want to go farther in an EV I have to sell this one and buy that one. Yet that's only at least $30,000 for the "upgrade"? Ouch! No, I can't do that. Even with all the tax credits, no, it won't work for me.

So I'm back to tinkering on ICEV's again, but wondering what the world of vehicles is coming to. A day when you can't work on your own vehicle?? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I honestly don't know.

At least I got my 1972 VW Bug running and will be using that for now. I got a lot of tuning to still do, mainly jetting the carburetor and remapping the distributor advance curves. But hey! It's kind of fun!

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:27 am
by LeftieBiker
There is a whole wide world of EV DIY. It's especially active with scooters, bicycles and motorcycles, but cars are popular too. Check out
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:07 am
by SageBrush
To hack a LEAF, "all" you have to do I think is replace the BMS to one that is not proprietary and closed. DIY EV forums will have details and places to buy.

Just keep in mind that hacking and tinkering are rather different. Hacking usually implies a fairly in depth competency in electricity and programming, and some electronics too.

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:05 am
by IssacZachary
SageBrush wrote:TJust keep in mind that hacking and tinkering are rather different.

True. I say tinkering on my VW when I've rebuilt the whole engine with everything being completely balanced, magnafluxed, re-machined and ceramic coated in a way only a perfectionist, like me, would do.

So far the only two things I've DIY'ed on the Leaf are replacing the 12V battery, the windshield wiper blades and installing my own level 2 EVSE on my house.

LeftieBiker wrote:There is a whole wide world of EV DIY. It's especially active with scooters, bicycles and motorcycles, but cars are popular too. Check out
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/

But are we to consider those who do that as heretics for attempting to work with flammable high voltage lithium ion cells without having a degree in chemistry and electronics?

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:38 am
by davewill
As you pointed out, working on ICE cars is not without danger. Working on EVs requires proper knowledge and equipment to do so safely, but it's not an impossible hurdle.

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:55 am
by RegGuheert
IssacZachary wrote:But are we to consider those who do that as heretics for attempting to work with flammable high voltage lithium ion cells without having a degree in chemistry and electronics?
Not all Li-ion chemistries are "flammable." In fact the chemistry used in the Nissan LEAF (at least the first generation) is quite benign. I believe that the NMC chemistry used in the new version is also quite benign. That's one reason why the only LEAF fires we know about were caused by the 12V wiring in the car or wiring in the house feeding the EVSE.

Here's a video showing the battery used in the Enphase AC Battery undergoing destructive testing:



Notice that there is no fire, even in the crush test.

That said, some Li-ion batteries ARE flammable, such as those used in the Tesla Model S and the Boeing 787.

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:28 am
by RegGuheert
Mate Rimac has been a VERY successful electric-car tinkerer:



I would have to say that he is the epitome of DIY!

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:27 am
by SageBrush
IssacZachary wrote:But are we to consider those who do that as heretics

Straw man

Do not kid yourself though. Working on an EV is a higher bar than working on an old VW beetle, and the EV is easier to brick or fry.

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:40 pm
by IssacZachary
SageBrush wrote:
IssacZachary wrote:But are we to consider those who do that as heretics

Straw man

Do not kid yourself though. Working on an EV is a higher bar than working on an old VW beetle, and the EV is easier to brick or fry.

True. And the whole reason I've given up on the idea.

But not being able to do anything to your vehicle takes away from that feeling of accomplishment when you've done something with your own wits and might.

What's worse in my situation is that basically I now have an all electric lawn ornament that's depreciated so much nobody even wants to give me even half of what I'd still owe on it had I not paid it off early. Of course my situation is different from the other 99% of the population that would benefit from a BEV just like mine with more than enough range for their 30 mile-ish daily routine. But what do I do with it now? I think I'm going to just give it to my mother-in-law.

Re: Is the EV the end of DIY?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:04 pm
by RegGuheert
IssacZachary wrote:I think I'm going to just give it to my mother-in-law.
Not enough range for her, either, huh? ;)