Friday, July 12, 2013

Officially Electric

I finally achieved one of the major goals today.  Here's my story!

In order to register your vehicle, you have to have your car emissions tested.  Unfortunately, not having a gas cap or any of the emissions equipment the car was originally equipped with, I can't pass this test even though I'd pass the intent of the test.  So I basically have to have the emissions test waived.  To do that, I have to get an "Alternative Fuel Certificate" issued for my car.  To get that, it must be inspected, and unfortunately, that cannot be done any any old MVD office.  In fact there are only two offices in Arizona, the closest of which is 21 miles from my house.  I guess it could be worse if I had to go to the Tucson office.  My design of the car was for a 50 mile range, so that doesn't leave a lot of room, especially when you consider you can't test much until you get the car registered!

Luckily, there is a 30 day temporary registration option that I got back in mid June.  I've racked up 137 miles of testing since then, the longest trip being about 25 miles.  One thing I learned is my range is theoretically greater than I was planning.  The car is more efficient, ranging from 200-240 Whr/mile depending on how many lights I hit, and I was designing around 275-300.  Another way to look at it is I get a little more than 1 mile per 1 Ah on the batteries, and since they're 60 Ah batteries, I should get 60+ miles.  Of course I haven't really tested this yet, but it makes me feel a little better.  Also lucky, my friend, Joe, lives about 6 miles from the inspection office and he offered to let me charge a couple hours before I made it rest of the way home.

With my 30 temp plate expiring on Sunday, I took the Porsche on the journey this morning.  The most direct way to get there is on the highway, so I decided to add that to my list of new things to do for the day.  The car had no problems speeding up and keeping up with traffic.  I even got up to 70 mph at one point!  I pulled into the inspection area after consuming 19.5 AHr.  Three guys hop out of a little hut and come check out the car.  98% of the questions they ask have nothing to do with the paperwork they needed to do, and one guy even pulled out a camera for a few pictures!  One of them said they hadn't seen an electric conversion in over a year, which surprised me.  I'm guessing the electric vehicle tax incentive that went away 18 months ago has something to do with it.  5 minutes later I'm back on the road with my embossed certificate!

6 more miles to Joe's house and I stop to add about 14 Ah back into the batteries.  Then I'm headed back home.  About 2/3 of the way home a sickening feeling enters my stomach as a terrible melted plastic scent fills the car.  I feel slightly better when I see a truck pulling onto the shoulder with his hazards on, and much better when I pass him and the smell goes away.  10 minutes later I'm safely home with 48 miles under my belt for the day.  I figure I'm about 30 Ah down, so it'll take about 6 hours to top the batteries off again.

Now I just need to make a stop at the MVD (yes another one) to get the registration taken care of.  I'm hoping to get one of those alternative fuel license plates with a custom number.  I'll let you know what I decide on.  18 months, and the car is finally legal!


  1. I am upgrading a 1985 Fiero from lead acid to lithium batteries and your build blog has been a great help. This trip has probably given you a lot of confidence that the car can travel longer distances. Congrats on getting the car certified as an EV.


  2. Thanks Randy! I checked out your blog and it looks like you're doing a solid job on the Fiero. Let me know if I can help in any way.