Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Pumkin Center, NC
Car Year: 2003
Car Model: Forester XS
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Who killed the electric Forester?
With gas prices the way they are I've been thinking about electric cars. I've always thought it would be fun to have one and one would come in really handy in emergencies. When hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast it started a rush on gasoline. The dash for gas caused a two day shortage when all the gas stations in town ran dry. The price of gas climbed to over $4.00 a gallon before the station's fuel tanks emptied. As long as the power was on I would not have to worry about standing in those long lines waiting my turn to put the rationed ten gallons of gas in my car. So an electric car was looking really good to me.
One thing I really don't care for is the little toy spaceship looking electric cars on the market. So I thought of converting a Forester to electric power. Ah, I could see it now. I'd have an electric car but with the room and AWD handling of the Forester. I'd glide silently around town all day and just plug her in at night for practically free power.
Here is list of what I was expecting of this electric Forester.
1 To drive as I do now but without having to pay for gas.
2 To have the power I have now with no engine noise.
3 No engine maintenance like oil changes and such.
4 Never having to stop at the gas station to fill up again.
This is the how the conversion and the estimated cost would go before I did any research.
1 Find a used 1998 Forester with a good body but trashed engine for around $2,000
2 The electric motor and controller $1,500
3 A dozen 12 volt deep cycle batteries $2,000
4 Machine work to hook the electric motor to the Forester's transmission $500
So for $6,000 or so I'd have my electric Forester and would be silently cruising around town in no time.
It all sounded good to me. Why it sounded so good it makes you wonder why you don't see more electric cars out on the roads. I started to dig up info for the conversion. That is when the true cost of things started to emerge. Not only was the cost going up but the performance was going down! The first big shock was finding the motor and controller would run $6,000. With all the other things added in it was pushing $9,700. Next was the machine work. The adapter plate that would connect the electric motor to the Forester's transmission had to be designed and then fabricated. This was a big cost but there was also brackets and adapters that had to be custom made. This was looking like it would run close to $1,000. next came the batteries. The system needed to pull the Forester requires almost 300 volts of electricity. So instead of the dozen batteries I'd need 24! The Batteries would come out to $4,126
This is what we have now as far as cost go.
1 Used Forester $2,000
2 Electric motor and controller plus support equipment $9,700
3 Custom machine work $1,000
4 24 deep cycle batteries $4,126
Now we have a proposed total of almost $17,000 and as many of you know once you get into a project like this the cost just go higher and higher. No one ever said "Wow, you know when I bought that old junked 48 Ford for $500 at the auto show and thought that it would take $5,000 to restore it, I couldn't believe that it only cost me $2,500 to get this baby look'n good." The truth of the matter is more like, " I can't believe this 48 Ford I bought for $500 cost me $50,000 to restore! I could have just bought a restored one for $30,000!"
So for around $20,000 or more I'd be cruising around town silently in my 10 year old 1998 Forester. As if the cost wasn't bad enough we get into performance.
Here is the specs of the 1998 Forester
Horse Power 165
Gas mileage average 23.5
Fuel tank capacity 15.9 gallons
Range 375 miles
Refuel time 5 minuets at any gas station
Vehicle Weight 3,120 pounds
Horse Power 57
Battery capacity 55 AH at 288 volts
Range 60 miles maximum but needs to be kept under 40 miles per charge to extend battery life
Recharge time Overnight on the charging station at home
Vehicle Weight 4,171 pounds
With only 40 miles to work with a day there wont be much cruising around town going on. One more thing the batteries will lose 50% of their capacity in 5 years meaning that the useable range will go from 40 to 20 miles in five years so new batteries will have to be purchased for another $4,200.
In the end we have a 10 year old Forester that cost $20,000 and has only 57 horse power pulling an extra 1,000 pounds in weight for only 40 miles in a day. No thank you! I'll just keep the lovable little boxer engine.
So who killed the electric forester? Was it Big Auto? Was it Big Oil? Was it George W. Bush? No, it was just a little calculator and some common sense. The big hold back for me right now is the batteries. It's just too much weight and not enough energy capacity and service life. Once a battery comes out that is the size and weight of a filled 16 gallon fuel tank. It will need to be able to power a 200 horse power electric motor for over 500 miles on a charge and would also be economically priced and have a service life of ten years. Then I'd be ready for the conversion.