One of my earliest memories of any kind of an electric vehicle date back to around 1958, I was only about 5 years old. At that time, I had a little red pedal tractor. My Dad told me about getting a small car battery and a starter motor; then using the tractor’s chain drive to create an “electric tractor” for me to drive. I can clearly remember us sitting on the linoleum floor in the kitchen working on that starter motor. I was very impressed; Dad was way ahead of his time on that one – electric riding toys are everywhere today – and that was over 60 years ago; it sure made an impression on me!
Why develop a 3-wheel EV instead of the conventional 4-wheel?
After decades of electric vehicle (EV) research and development and various EV conversions, I decided I wanted to design and build the most efficient EV that I could. I followed a systems approach and designed the EV around the weakest link in the system and even with todays’ high performance lithium batteries; the weakest link in the system is still the batteries. I started with a clean sheet of paper and an open mind. I began to make rough sketches of the EV I was going to build. I wanted three wheels because three wheels means less rolling resistance at slow speeds and it means we could design a more aerodynamic body for less drag and better overall performance at higher speeds. This led us to the design of the Defiant EV3 All-Electric RoadsterTM.
What unique challenges did you face when building a 3-wheel roadster that might not be the same for a 4-wheel automobile?
I wanted to make sure the Roadster was stable. Three factors determine the stability of a three wheeled vehicle, regardless of the design (tadpole vs delta): weight distribution, center of gravity, and how wide is the track (i.e. width). The Defiant is not designed like a top-heavy, narrow track ATV, or the infamous Reliant Robin. The Roadster’s ultralow center of gravity and wide track produces a stable ride with no more possibility of a rollover than you would find in a conventional car.
Mr. Robert Q. Riley a noted expert in three-wheel vehicles and designer of the Trimuter had this to say about vehicle stability, “A conventional, non-tilting three-wheel car can equal the rollover resistance of a four wheel car, provided the location of the center-of-gravity (cg) is low and near the side-by-side wheels.” This is exactly how we have designed our roadsters – and our design was validated by the Québec Institute for Advanced Transportation (ITAQ).
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The Defiant EV3 has a unique exterior design, very reminiscent of classic roadsters. Where did the design inspiration come from when putting pen to paper?
For one thing, I have always had a fondness for older, classic vehicles such as Triumph Spitfires and MGs. I wanted to have an EV that would at least turn heads. It seemed to us that a lot of EVs lacked any real style, and while not everyone likes the style of the Roadster, at least I can say it has style!
You claim that the EV3 charges from standard 120V outlets, did this present a challenge in developing the electrical system? Could the EV3 use 240V or other fast chargers?
I believe in the foreseeable future there will continue to be a scarcity of Level ll Charging Stations at convenient locations. The main reason people don’t buy an EV is what’s called Range Anxiety. Range Anxiety has two components. People are people are afraid they will run out pf power before they get home or they are afraid they will not be able to locate an available Lever ll Charger. Standard 120-volt outlets are available everywhere. Also, should an employer wish to provide charging for an employee, it’s a lot more economical to wire up a simple 120-volt outlet than a Level ll System costing thousands of dollars.
So, as mentioned above, I wanted to the Roadster to be as efficient as possible. On the road, the Roadster is about twice as efficient as a Nissan Leaf, this means our battery pack can be about half the size. Plus our on-board charger is more powerful, so while a typical Leaf can take 24+ hours to recharge from 120-volts, we can recharge in about 8 hours – about three times faster. The range of the newest Leaf has increased significantly, but they did this – not by improving efficiency, but my installing an even larger battery pack. This means that it could take days to recharge from a standard outlet at home and much more than the usual 6 hours from a typical Level ll Charger.
Top Down View
Our Roadster, when plugged into a Level ll Station, will get a charge in about 3 hours. In the United States, 94% of all trips are less than 45 miles a day. We are all about convenience and ease of use. Plug in the Roadster in at night, at home, and you can drive up to 100 miles on that charge. Plug the Roadster in at work and the daily range increases to about 200 miles! A 200 mile daily range with no Level ll Chargers, or no new infrastructure, just a simple 120-volt outlet, is what sets up apart.
Are you able to share the specifications and why you designed to those goals for the EV3? For example, the 0-60 time is 10 seconds. Why not design for a faster car, as EV tech is capable of much faster times.
The top speed of the Roadster in around 70 miles an hour, it seats three, one in the front and two in the back, it has a removable hard top, a roll bar like protection design, seat belts and shoulder harnesses, front and rear crumple zones, and what we call a, “passive head-on crash avoidance designTM”. In the Roadster, you are two thirds less likely to have a true head on collision – it would likely be deflected and glance off the front/side of the Roadster. Since we designed the Roadster for the commuter, where typical speed limits are 35 to 45 MPH, it really did not seem practical to worry a lot about a fast zero to 60 time. How fast do you need to accelerate when you are driving in town traffic? None the less, as an option, acceleration can be adjusted – of course with jack rabbit starts, the range will go down a bit.
Shockwave Motors recently competed in the 2018 Cleantech Open Accelerator Program. Can you share your experience in this program and what the competition was like through your time in the program?
The Cleantech Open was an excellent experience, allowing us to grown as a startup and gain experience and develop even more confidence in what we are doing. The competition was challenging, and the other companies were truly amazing! Some of the companies had already received millions of dollars from investors and/or grant funding.
Where did you finish in the program / competition? How will that accelerator program be helping Shockwave Motors grow in the future?
Taking the top off
We finished number one in the Southeast Region and in the top ten in the National Competition. Finishing the program helped us build credibility and helps validate the Roadster.
Is the plan to mass produce the Defiant EV3 Roadster? Was that a factor in your estimated cost of just under $25,000?
We do plan to “mass produce” the Roadster. However, we have designed the Roadster to be very scalable and we can start out in relatively low volumes and then expand production. Many of the components are “off-the-shelf” and we have supplier agreements in place. We were practical when we looked at manufacturing and component costs. In other words, we did not start out assuming we would sell tens of thousands of Roadsters in the first year or two. We built our cost structure abound a Lean Startup Philosophy with the ability to scale as needed to meet consumer demand.
When will you start accepting orders for the EV3?
We are presently accepting what is often called “pre-orders”. Basically when someone tells us, in writing, they want to buy a roadster, we put them on our pre-order list; however, we are not accepting monetary deposits at this time. We have seen other companies raise millions of dollars, take nonrefundable deposits from thousands of people – and yet; so far, have never started production. Our “good name” backed by complete honesty and integrity is important and we will begin taking fully refundable deposits when we are on a direct pathway to production.
So far, we have bootstrapped the business and created three prototype Roadsters, at this point we are seeking additional partners to help us move to production. We are exploring several paths including: Angel and Venture Capital organizations, a few individual equity investors, as well as the potential of equity crowd funding. Once we have acquired the necessary funding, we anticipate starting initial production in 9 to 12 months.
Shockwave Motors has also produced some very interesting conversions (second article will go into more detail). Are conversions a service you are also going to offer along with the Roadster?
I have been doing conversions since I was about 10 or 11 years old and converted an old go-cart with a blown engine. It’s fun to do one from time to time and the Model T was a great project! However, we do not plan on offering conversions as a regular service. Our primary focus remains doing what it takes to bring Defiant EV3 All-Electric RoadsterTM to the world market.
Where can we learn more about Shockwave Motors and get in contact with you?
You can find us on the web at: www.ShockwaveMotors.com where you can sign up for our newsletter (we will not sell your e-mail or fill up your inbox with junk). We also have a YouTube Channel and Facebook Page. You can reach me at John@ShockwaveMotors.com.
Thank you for the opportunity to share some information with you about our goal to make green affordable by manufacturing our all-electric roadster which provides unprecedented charging convenience along with an exhilarating driving experience in a vehicle that is pollution free, safe, fun to drive, and very economical.
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