Who killed the electric Forester? - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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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

Gas engine

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

Electric conversion

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.

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 12:35 PM
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Electricity bill for charging the batteries will cost you even more then gasoline. That's one thing people tend to forget. Imagine a whole city coming back from work and plugging in their cars for an ovenight charge. Everyone would need to have a nuclear plant in the backyard.

BMW's hydrogen engines are the only clean engines. Electricity is not produced without pollution.

regards

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 01:47 PM
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Interesting. Why do you just want one motor when you could have one on each wheel? Save weight by ditching the gearbox, transfer box, engine and associated ICE stuff. Replace all your heavy steel panels with fibreglass/carbon fibre?... a bit like trying to make a model T into a mondeo.

I agree with you on the pointlessness of the project..believe me I love my forester too.

If anyone is interested in electric bikes/cars etc (I have two bikes, one to commute, one as a spare. They travel at 17mph for 6 miles over hills and back in any UK weather) perhaps have a gas free chuckle at

http://www.visforvoltage.com/forums/...hp?act=SF&f=27


I know, I know, geek with a bike but hey I get the aerobic exercise plus a lpg station wagon to cart my family around.

Hey, this guy has an electric bike and a forester too!
http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/t...-electric-bike

14 Forester 2.0 X

Last edited by andrewhg; 09-24-2006 at 02:39 PM.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umbert View Post
Electricity bill for charging the batteries will cost you even more then gasoline. That's one thing people tend to forget. Imagine a whole city coming back from work and plugging in their cars for an ovenight charge. Everyone would need to have a nuclear plant in the backyard.

BMW's hydrogen engines are the only clean engines. Electricity is not produced without pollution.

regards
Another thing people tend to forget is that in industry hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) are used chemically to produce hydrogen.

I think you must have been exaggerating on the old "nuke power station in the back yard" don`t you? Most people in the UK come home between 17:00 and 18:00 and switch on a 1.5kw kettle for a nice cup of tea.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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Cool bike. Thanks for the link! I saw his Forester in the video too.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 10:20 AM
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I shouldn`t have gotten on my high horse..

My fall-back bike failed today! Ah well, home made electric bikes eh?

14 Forester 2.0 X
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 11:32 AM
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I always thought the "Stonecutters" where responsible for holding back the electric car.




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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umbert View Post
Imagine a whole city coming back from work and plugging in their cars for an ovenight charge. Everyone would need to have a nuclear plant in the backyard.
That would be good.

One problem with electricity is that big power plants produce a roughly constant amount of power 24 hours a day, but demand for electricity changes greatly during the day. So they have excess power at night.
If people would charge their cars over night (after say 10pm) then it would be really good.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 05:44 PM
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What really stops electric vehicles is it is damn hard to store electric energy. To get the equivalent energy (range) of a tank of fuel takes a lot of weight, a lot more than the weight of the fuel.

And as others pointed out - why run a heavy 4wd system when you could run 4 motors direct to each wheel. This would also have advantages over the current awd system, since you would have independant power to each wheel, so unlike the standard Forester you couldnt get "hung up" with a couple of wheels spinning and the other wheels getting no power.

Im actually surprised that no one has pushed electric power for offroading. Ok probably not the best for water crossing, but would have great advantages for crawling over rough surfaces (independant power to each wheel, great low rev torque)

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 08:51 AM
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Electric off road? Try this for size...

http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?...q=hub+electric

WOW


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 11:26 AM
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Rather Impressive!
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 11:45 AM
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Looks like Big Trak

My wife wants one to do the shopping
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14 Forester 2.0 X

Last edited by andrewhg; 09-26-2006 at 12:53 PM.
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