Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How I converted a car to an electric vehicle

This brings back good memories from 1997 when I was the first in Norway to convert a car to an EV.
I spent about 200 hours on this conversion, and it was not really that hard. I got my parts from http://www.evamerica.com/ and made a deal with my wife to work in the garage every Monday after work. My old website from Geocities have some interesting pictures, particular on the clutchless design of connecting the original transmission to the electric motor. If your are thinking of making a conversion I would suggest you to check this out:  How I converted a car to electric . It also have my log of the joy of driving an electric.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How much should tires be over-inflated to save gas?

The sticker inside the door of my car suggest that tires should be inflated to 2.3 bar (33 PSI). I have usually been driving with 2.4 bar (35 PSI) in my tires. Before going on vacation this year, I increased the pressure to 2.6 bar (38 PSI). Since the car was loaded with my family and luggage this should be about right. It seemed to handle ok.

After the vacation I decided to leave the pressure at 2.6 bar to see if I could increase my mpg. I noticed that the car was not as comfortable to ride as usually, the ride was stiffer. When driving into a bend I noticed that as I turned the steering wheel more and more I would get to a point where the car would all of a sudden turn a bit more than what I was really turning the steering wheel. After a while I decided that it was just too uncomfortable to ride my car with over-inflated tires. When correcting my tire pressure I noticed a bit of damage on one tire. Then I looked closer, I found that the damage was all around the tire at the same distance from the shoulder of the tire. It was most on the outside shoulder of the front tire, but also on the inside shoulder. And also slightly on the rear wheel tires. I stopped by the local tire shop and the guy said that I must have hit something and that the dammage was small and nothing to worry about. I think the real reason is that the tires was so over-inflated that the dammage shows where the tire shoulder was when the tire was at 2.6 bar. I can picture the tire in a bend, and how the smaller area in contact with the road is strugling not to slip. Then it slips or skids a bit and the road tears loose a small part of the tire.

I was not driving enough to make any good data on what the gas savings might be from this, but based on the tire wear and umcomfortable ride, I can not recommend this. Check you tire pressure often. It is well documented elsewhere that too litle pressure increases the rolling resistance and hence also the gas used. So make sure you use the recommended pressure or just slightly above.

Summary in Norwegian: Sørg for å sjekke tryket i dekkene ofte slik at de aldri går under det som er anbefalt. Min erfaring er at +0.1 ekstra også går helt fint. Noe særlig utover det går for mye utover dekkslitasje og veigrepet.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rebuild your car to run on LPG

While waiting for the Citroen C-zero or the Nissan Leaf all electric vehicles, we rebuilt our Citroen Berlingo 2004 to LPG about three years ago. The cost of doing so was about US$ 3000 but in Norway gas cost about US$ 2 for a liter (about US$7 for a gallon). LPG cost less than US$1 for a liter. Our car is rated 7,4l/100km or 38,2 mpg combined driving cycle, which is equal to a CO2 of 175g/km. The good news about LPG is that it will result in a 15% drop in CO2, so our car is now a 152g/km. I wish more people would grab similar opportunities for saving both CO2 and money. It is really such a no brainer. Money wise we will break even later this year.

Summary in Norwegian: Hvorfor bygger ikke flere om sin bil til LPG? Det er overskudd på LPG gass, mesteparten bare brennes opp ute på oljeplatformen. Da er det bedre å brenne den opp gjennom motoren på din bil. Mange klimatiltak er direkte lønnsomme. Ombygging til LPG drift av din bil er et slikt tiltak. Driften har vært helt uproblematisk, selv uten årlige servicer på LPG anlegget. Der jeg fyller LPG gass opplyser de at LPG gassen i Norge er meget ren, og at det ikke er behov for årlig bytte av filter hvis man kjører lite. Bilde viser hvordan man kobler seg til LPG tanking i Norge.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Using PLX KIWI MPG to reduse fuel consumption

I bought a KIWI MPG trip calculator to be able to measure the fuel consumption in my Citroen Berlingo 2004. My hope was that it would help me learn how to drive the most fuel efficient, and I will give it credit for teaching me a few things. It does, however, have some bugs. Here is my short test and review.

It all started out after reading the tips on Ecomodder.com. Reading, understanding and then following these tips will most likely have the biggest impact on saving you fuel. But I like statistics and to compete with myself using the least fuel. That is why I bought the KIWI MPG.

I plugged the unit into the OBDII port in my car. The KIWI MPG indicated that my car had a "CALP" sensor, which is the one that needs to be calibrated. After some days of driving, I changed the 1.00 value to 0.27 to get fuel consumption close to actual use. Then I have tested it for several months.

It is interesting to see the fuel consumption when driving. Sometimes a try to push the clutch pedal to the floor and just coast, and then compare it to having the enging engaged and running. But can the display be trusted? When going downhill with the gear engaged and no throttle, I have been told that the car should be using no fuel. The KIWI MPG should be showing 0, but it is showing something like 2.4 (liter/100km). Another bug is that the unit does not always start when starting the car. Perhaps as often as 1 out of 3 times it does not start. Then I have to use the on/off switch. When I stop the car, the KIWI MPG does not always stop. It thinks the car is running and the average fuel consumption keeps rising, which ruins the average function. Twice it has gotten some kind of hick-up, showing much too low fuel consumption. Turning it on-off-on brings it back.

The best I can say is that it is an educational toy. After all it is fun, and I have managed to lower my fuel consumption with 5-10% after using it, or is it just because I am using the techniques from ecomodder.com ?

Update: This winter I was not using my car for a week, and after that I could not start it. Flat battery. Then I recalled how I had noticed one morning that the entire windscreen had been covered by a thin layer of ice, except for one small spot. This spot was about a foot above the location of the KIWI MPG. You can feel that the unit is warm even when it is in standby. I have now disconnected the unit, and have had no problems starting the car later this freezing cold winter in Norway. So make sure you unplug this unit if you are not going to use your car for a week or so.

Summary in Norwegian: Har din bil ikke en forbruksmåler? KIWI MPG er en bensinmåler du kan ettermontere i de fleste biler. Imidlertid er jeg noe usikker på hvor godt den egentlig måler forbruket. Det er en morsom dings. Kan kappe kjøre med meg selv til jobben for å se om jeg kan forbedre forbruket fra dagen før. Men jeg er ganske sikker på at det er teknikkene fra ecomodder.com som er det som virkelig monner. Enheten bruker mye strøm i standby, så den bør frakobles hvis du parkere bilen over lenger tid.