Having grown up in the era of Hot rods and motorcycles I look at this stage in EV’s as the evolution of hot rodding. I was trained in aviation electronics by the US Navy in 1981 and have spent most of my life working in the electronics field. About four years ago I was at a Cars and Coffee event in Carlsbad and happened to run into Michael Bream along with several of his vehicles. The idea of electric cars always appealed to me, but this was the first time I had seen it done to retro vehicles in such a clean fashion. I was hooked immediately.
Why did you choose a VW Beetle for your EV conversion?
I was looking for something light and appealing to the eye to convert. I first considered a Porsche 914 but it was just to low to the ground for me. Having owned one and seen other VW’s done I started looking for a suitable donor.
Can you give us the details of the components? Motors, batteries, etc.
I started with the basic kit from EV West. A Netgain Hyper 9 motor (88Kw), SME AC-X1 controller, and 5 Tesla S battery packs 5.3 Kwh each.
Seeing that EV technology is improves so rapidly these days, how did you choose what batteries, motors and other components went into the conversion?
I relied heavily on the expertise of the people at EV West and was able to test drive some of Michael’s vehicles before making my decision.
Have you made any updates or improvements from the original design?
Adding Electric tug at your heartstrings?
I stuck to the basic design but made changes in the aesthetics and in the placement of things such as cutoff switches and monitors.
Can you give us the specs on the project?
I am told it can top out close to 100mph but I have no plans to attempt that kind of speed in a Bug. Although I have not thoroughly tested the 0 – 60 time I would estimate between 6 – 7 seconds. Impressive for a bug. The range is between 100 and 120 mile on a charge depending on driving conditions. It is definitely enough to get peoples attention when on the road.
Are you able to walk us through the process of your build at a high level? How long did the project take to complete?
Having completed the conversion there are things I would do differently now. I did not do a full restoration on the vehicle before my conversion. I wish that I had. The build took me about six months to complete as I was busy with other things. Making decisions before hand would have helped speed up the process. for instance. I did have the metal work and paint done.
Then the transmission converted to a two speed. Having the battery boxes built took longer than expected. I took my time with the aesthetics to give it the look I wanted by fabricating panels by hand. I replaced the VW fuse boxes with new design and replaced the wiring harness in the vehicle. This allowed me to use the VW harness to connect control functions from the front to the back of the vehicle easily. Running the 2.0 cables from the front to the rear can be challenging to do by yourself. I did require help and the advice from EV West during the process was very helpful.
What was the most difficult part of this build?
For me the hardest part was running the cables from the front to the rear and making decisions as to where I wanted to place things in the vehicle.
Is this meant to be a daily driver and did that influence any particular aspect?
I do drive the car regularly and wanted to build it with decent range and power. This was why I chose the Hyper9 and tesla battery combination.
What is general reaction from others when learn this is an electric car?
When out driving the car, I regularly get stopped. People seem to love the conversion of an old classic to modern tech. As a result, I get a thumbs up from a lot of people in traffic when they notice the graphics that say electric.
Any plans for other electric vehicle builds or conversions?
I have a 2000 Porsche Boxter that was converted about 8 years ago that I am going to refresh with updated batteries and charging system. Add a BMS and hope to complete it this summer.
What’s next for you and your EV? Upcoming competitions or auto shows?
I take it to local shows and enjoy the conversations with everyone about the car. But, it is built to drive more than show. It gets a lot of attention for my little shop.
If people have questions about your build, (any you want to share), how can people get a hold of you and learn more about your EV?
I am easy to get ahold of. They can check me out at Osideerides.com or on Facebook or IG. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
The goal for the Electric Speed Shop is start a conversion garage, focused on performance and sports cars. Any tips for starting our first build and for starting up the shop?
I would say to start with a simple project to gain the experience. I know it helped me. Get a reference for a good insurer and don’t scrimp on the quality of the parts you use. More than a few parts had to be replaced before I was done and with better quality.