Plug Bug: EV AC Drive Motor / Controller Selection

Electric Bug

My primary choices for an AC motor

Update: I’m now back to considering a DC system, since the affordable AC systems (Azure Dynamics AC24LS and HPEV’s AC50) are underpowered for Highway 17 (5% grade, average). I strongly considered the EVE  AC40, but I am not experience enough with home built EVs to be the first in America to try it out (that I’m aware of).

Created: April 29, 2010 (this page will be updated as I figure things out). Last updated: Oct 7, 2010

* MES-DEA (Now called Cebi) sold through Metric Mind in the US or EVE (from Italy). Several options and matching controllers. MES-DEA seems to have widespread use in Europe. However, the company appears to have been bought out. Their website is disorganized, and it is difficult to find any information about their motors on their website. That is rather discerning, and worries me. I also worry that I may not be able to get good support or information on how to setup the controller and motor. The advantage is that they have a lot of motor options, and the power to weight ratio seems pretty good. The MES-DEA 200-330 (40Kw) is 15.4″ long; much shorter than the DC WarP 9 (20.19″). It puts out 40 kW continuous, which is perfect for my hill (requires 38 kW to maintain 55 MPH up 5% grade). I’m planning on matching it with the Mes-DEA TIM600W controller. Update: I found another source from Italy, but they don’t sell to the US.
Cost: From MetricMind: Motor: $6886 + ? shipping. Controller: $5786 + shipping. Total: $12,672. Yikes! Plus an adapter plate ($800-900).
Cost: From EVE: Motor:  € 3,958.00 = $5,242.37 + ? shipping. Controller: € 2,698.00 = $3,573.50. Total: $8,815.87. **including 20% VAT. So, $7346.55 without it. But shipping might be a nightmare of a cost, but even at $1k it would be a better deal.
Notes: I’m not going to use MES-DEA, as $8,800 (minimum) is more than I want to pay now, and I think it will be difficult to install.

* Azure Dynamics (previously Solectria) sold through Electro Automotive (in Felton!). The model AC24, AC24LS or AC55 motors, with performance details from Electro Automotive or AZD. My main concerns: AC24 is not strong enough for the hills by my house (it would work, but barely), and the AC55 operates most efficiently at 2000 RPM, which is pretty low for freeway speeds with a bug tranny. The AC55 is also pretty heavy. The AC55 has peak efficiency of 87%; not as good as the MES-DEA 200-330 which is over 92%. It puts out 25 kW continuous, and 59 kW peak. My hill needs 38 kW, so it would be pushing it past its rating for quite a bit.
Cost: From ElectroAuto: Motor: $3495.00 + $200 shipping. Controller: $3495.00 + $50 shipping. Total: $6990 + $250 shipping. Add 9% CA sales tax: $7619.10 + $250 shipping: $7869.10. I’ll also need an adapter plate from them ($875) and wiring kit ($466).
Cost: Canadian EV: (TODO: find out)
Cost: From Concept1: Motor: $4,695 (controller?)
Notes: The AC24 seems too weak for my needs (climbing highway 17) based on input from others who have the system and from my research on power requirements. The AC55 might work, but it also seems a little more than I want to spend for the entire conversion. I emailed ElectroAuto asking for opinions.

*  HPGC/HPEV motors (HPEVS website — HPGC seems to be the same). AC50 — looks promising, but the voltage is limiting the top speed. The Curtis controller‘s that are used with it (the EPS 1238) has 108 volts max, which seems limiting in top end speed. At 2600 RPM (roughly 55 MPH in 4th in the bug with the standard transmission), it has 44 HP / 32.8kW. Not enough to maintain 55 MPH. Update: The AC50 puts out only 15 hp cont. It would basically make the car feel like a stock bug, which I don’t want. It might be possible to get a better controller and pump more amps/volts to it and get better performance. It is 108v max, but it has a 130v cutoff. The motor might work if I kept it really cool. Brian, from Thunderstruck motors said it would feel peppy, which is good to hear.
Cost: Thunderstruck EV: $4500 + shipping with a controller.
Cost: Canadian EV: HPEV AC Drive System (TODO: find out cost)
Cost: EVParts: $4500
Cost: KTA-EV: $4500
Cost: Grassroots EV: $4,295 — definitely the best price!

* Electro Vehicles Europe (EVE). The M2-AC30-L motor might work, or a larger one not listed on their site. EVE does offer a kit with a controller/motor for € 5,480.00.
Answers: 5/2/10: EVE does have an AC40 and AC50. I’m waiting for a price quote and controller recommendation. The contact (Jaco) said they custom build solutions for their customers, and is going to contact engineering to find out what I would need. They have an powerpAC and compACT controller they make that they provide (I still am looking for specs). EVE is high on my list of possibilities. Cost: about $6600 US (motor + MES DEA Controller), plus custom fees (if any) and shipping from Italy. I really want to go with the EVE system, but the MES-DEA controller looks too difficult for me to figure out, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to get enough support to complete the project, since not many people have used them (especially in America). If I was in Europe, (or if I just spoke Italian), I would probably go with EVE.

* BLDC Motors and Controllers. Available at CurrentEV Tech ($3950 for 40kw and $5850 for 80kw — cheap! — dealer in the USA) and Low Carbon Idea (direct from China, I think, and probably cheaper). I didn’t know about this motor when I started out, otherwise I would have seriously considered it. It is so much cheaper than the other options. However, I don’t know how reliable it is, and I haven’t seen accurate statistics on what it can do.

Other choices, and why I’m not using them:

* Siemens, 1PV5135-WS24 – sold through Metric Mind. The main issue is that these motors seem really expensive, and I’m not sure what controller to use, and what support they offer. They also are rated for a really high voltage, which means more batteries and more weight. Because of cost ($8-9k for the motor alone), I’m nixing the idea of using them. I’d rather go with MES-DEA.

* Brusa Available from Metric Mind but no prices are listed. Emailed on 4/29/10 to ask for prices, and yeah, they are nice, but way out of my budget (roughly 17k for an inverter and 12-22k for the motor == at least $30k).The Brusa ASM 6.17.12 motor would be sweet. Here are brusa motor details from the companies great website (they have manuals for download!). Brusa inverters have a huge lead time according to Metric Mind, and on EVE they cost 20k euros!

* AC Propulsion. They don’t sell to the public. I have heard they are expensive.

* Enova Systems / Advanced DC motors (mentioned here). I can’t find much info about these motors or companies.

* Ultramotive. They make a high end motor called the CARBON for roughly 18k AUS ($~16.7k US). Looks awesome, but it is expensive, and there are only 2 in existence. It needs a good controller, like the Tritium (made in Australia) WaveSculptor200 which runs A$6000 ($5565.60 US). That would be roughly $21k for the motor/controller combo. Cheaper than Brusa, but also not well established and tested.

* UQM. Their motor specs. The motors look awesome and the company got me a single quantity quote. The PowerPhase 75, which would be perfect for the bug, is $20,690. Too much! If I was going high performance at any cost I would probably go with UQM over Ultramotive or Brusa, since UQM seems to have a good history. Ultramotive looks great, but they are also very new. Brusa has been around and seem good, but are $10k more.

* evolveit — they converted old Siemens motors with a custom controller. Looks really sweet, and would work for what I want and definitely be powerful enough. However, at $14,325 it is cheaper than UQM, but more expensive than EVE ($6,500 + import duty/taxes + shipping from Italy).


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Joseph P. Rebel

Why not ask Curtis if you can use 2 Curtis1231C/AC50 in parallel, using the CANbus as the “communicator” for both processors? This may not be cheap, but the price would be cheaper than BRUSA or Siemens. I think that may be able to make a two motor adapter for this project. I’m only guessing on this, but it can’t hurt to ask Curtis about this idea. I don’t know if this has been tried yet . . .

Joseph P. Rebel

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