Why Go Electric?
About the EV Project
General EV Information
About the MG (Tech Stuff)
EVs in the News
Contact Info

MG EV Users Manual
MG Conversion Photos
EVs on the Web
Lead Acid Batteries
The Electric Vehicle Project was started with the donation of an MG Midget from Will Doolittle with the stipulation that the MG be converted to run on electric power. An outline of the project was written up and interested members of BAA met to work on turning a noisy, smelly gas-burning car into a quiet, clean, smooth-riding electric car.

But that was actually a long time ago in a galaxy far far way (1993). Today the MG is still running and all that was true then about EVs is even more relevant today. Most of the info and links have been updated. Enjoy!
Why go Electric?

• Electric Vehicles, or EVs, are 97% cleaner than gas-powered cars. This includes the emissions from the electric power plant.
• EVs fill a perfect niche in the urban commute car market, where the range is short and the need for non-polluting cars is the greatest.
• EVs require less maintenance than gas powered cars.
• EVs are quiet, minimizing sound pollution.
• EVs will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
• The California Air Resource Board has passed a mandate that says that 10% of all cars sold in the state in 2003 must be zero-emission vehicles.
About the EV Project

photo of MG MidgetThe original goal of the Electric Vehicle Project was to convert a car to electric and show the viability of electric vehicles (EVs) as a clean, quite commute alternative. After the successful conversion of our first car, an important new goal came to the forefront: to make available the information we learned about converting a car to electric and to be a resource for other interested parties wishing to convert a car. The donation of the a MG Midget by Will Doolittle, with the stipulation that the MG be converted to run on Electric power, got the project rolling in 1992.

Since then the MG has been to many EVents (as EV people call them). The first such EVent was Earth Day 1994 at Stanford University. After that we showed the car at the Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance, and then the "All Right Now" Parade to celebrate homecoming at Stanford and the Palo Alto Centennial. At each event we hand out general EV information and answer questions about our project specifically.

Our first resource customer was Acterra's High Schools Group, to whom a VW Rabbit had been donated. After unsuccessfully trying to give the Rabbit to a high school auto shop class, Schools Group members decided to convert it to electric.

We also developed "The MG Users Manual" for the electric MG, complete with a Suppliers Reference for EV parts and a Reference Books listing.

A good source of information during our conversions has been the local EV community here in Palo Alto. Otmar Ebenhoech of EVCL and Bob Schneeveis have been invaluable in their help and expertise. Local to the Bay Area but e-mail in scope is Bruce Parmeter, an EV advocate willing to disseminate EV information. The Electric Auto Association, with chapters nationwide, and the EV Discussion Group List have also been good resources for our project. The last reference comes from the EAA's EV Information page. This has other good EV references that are all over the Web.
General EV Information

Contrary to popular beliefs, EVs are 97% cleaner then the internal combustion engine (ICE) car. This includes the pollution that is generated at the electrical power plant. It is much easier to clean up one central power plant than to keep all the individual ICE cars tuned up and running cleanly. It is also easier to retrofit power plants and update them to run cleaner still, than retrofitting all the ICE cars (old and new) out on the road. And in the future, as we switch over to renewable sources of energy (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.), the EV will get even cleaner, unlike the ICE car. Even clean alternate fuel (natural gas, propane, methanol) cars produce oxides of nitrogen, a major component of smog. Over 90% of the daily trips made in the U.S. are under 50 miles. This is within the range (40 to 60 miles) of most EVs. An EV is the perfect car in urban areas where smog is the worst and daily commutes are short. Many families have two cars: one larger one for longer trips and a smaller commute car for the ride to work. EVs can be the perfect second car in this common situation.

Maintenance of an EV is much less difficult than on an ICE car. Most of what you have to do is check and add water to the batteries once every month or so. If your car has sealed batteries, then you don't even have to do this. You will have to check the brakes and suspension a little more often if you have an EV that does not have regenerative braking, where the force of slowing down the car is used to charge the batteries. The main battery pack will have to be changed every 3 to 4 years depending on your driving and on the kind of batteries.

What about all these batteries? Lead acid batteries are 98% recyclable. The lead is melted down and reused, the plastic case is shredded and recycled and even the acid is naturalized and made into fertilizer.

California's revised mandate says that 10% of all cars sold in the state in 2003 must be zero emission vehicles. This did not happen, but we did see hybrids leaping into the picture based on EV technology. California is still leading the way with New York, Massachusetts and ten other eastern states also considering California's curren CAFE standards to help reduce green house gas emissions. So what are the big auto manufacturers doing about this? They are fighting it as usual; as they have fought against any regulation on the cars they make: seat belts, catalytic converters, air bags, etc. Now, finally with gas over $4.00 per gallon the Big Three are realizing that the ICE (internal combustion engine) age is over.

So where does this leave us? Converting a gas car to electric can cost between $5,000 to $7,000 to do it yourself or $10,000 to 20,000 to have a conversion shop do it for you. If you compare this to the price of a new car today, EVs can be cost-competitive. Is there an EV in your future?
About the MG (the technical stuff)

Our car is a 1978 MG Midget. All of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) parts have been removed: engine, gas tank, exhaust system, etc. In its place we have installed a 20 hp (60 hp max.) Prestolite series DC motor connected to the standard transmission by an adapter plate. The motor is controlled by an Auburn C600 motor controller powered by twelve 12 volt 30XHS Trojan deep cycle lead acid batteries. The car is charged by a simple diode bridge type of charger that has an adjustable auto shutoff. The 12 volt system is run off of two small 6 volt gel cells that are charged from the main battery pack using a DC-to-DC converter from Power Cube. The heater is a small ceramic space heater that has had the AC fan changed for a 12 vdc fan and the main heater core element switched by a 120 vdc, 20 amp relay.

Car specs
Range: 25 to 30 miles
Top speed: 65 mph+
Recharge time: 6 to 8 hours
Weight: 2300 lbs.

Additional technical information
The MG Users Manual — Large document, but lots of good information
Lead Acid Batteries — How to choose the right battery for your EV
MG EV Photo Gallery — Photos of the MG conversion
EVs on the Web — A listing of EV parts suppliers

For more information about the Electric Vehicle Project's MG, or if you have specific questions, email David Coale. We are still getting around and promoting the use of EVs as a clean, quiet commute alternative. Our MG has been featured in several articles on electric cars in the local papers.
EVs in the News

EVs in the news is a moving target at best. The best web site I have found for this is the link to Electric and Hybrid Cars page below. If you really want to follow this you might want to book mark this page once you get there. The other articles below are for a historical background on EVs.

Electric and Hybrid Cars — The best souce for up-to-date information on EVs and Hybrid cars.

EVs in the news in the mid 90's just after we got the MG running (Archives) 95-96

Silicon Valley Chapter of the Electric Auto Association's Annual Electric Car Rally
at Palo Alto High School.

Past EVents
Report on MGs at Jack London Square 05-98
A write-up on The GREAT Race to Phoenix
Report on SF BEAR rally 1996
Report on SF BEAR rally 1995
Report on the Palo Alto Homecoming Parade
The EV Project Contact Information

Please send questions and comments about the MG or EVs in general to David Coale , Electric Vehicle Project Leader.

David Coale

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Top | Page last updated Aug 4, 2008 .