OwnerRob Matthies
Owner's Other EVs2002 Ego Cycle-2
1999 Montague-Currie ebike
MODIFIED 2010 Electric Motorsport Native Z-6
LocationVancouver, British Columbia Canada map
Web/EmailWebPage email image
Vehicle1982 GMC S-15 Sierra

This is the Revived Battery Electric Pickup which is imho THE WORLD'S CHEAPEST VEHICLE TO OPERATE: Costs 3 cents per kilometer to run, including the cost of battery pack replacement. (Unlike Tom Hank's Lithium Ion electric car which may cost him $20,000/year.)
Like Shared Vision magazine says, this pickup costs 30 cents a day to operate.

Runs off discarded batteries.

Google this: Revived Battery Electric Pickup

There are 10 breakthroughs on this vehicle.

Please check out news and video clips about this EV on LiveVideo.com and Youtube, too. Because of the "dead batteries" used on this EV, it has been on CBC Newsworld, Global TV, and other newspapers and magazines.

This electric pickup truck is running on mixed-sized USED, DISCARDED BATTERIES that we revived, some newer, some older, different types, different brands, different sizes. At least one "expert" opined our all-used battery pack would never work, but boy, was he wrong, dead wrong, because we've been driving this all over Vancouver, taking as many as four trips a day.

The Global TV newscrew even brought a guy from a battery shop to make sure we weren't just pulling the wool over their eyes. (The Global TV newscast is on Youtube.) Also, we let the photographer from Burnaby Now test the batteries himself with an SBT Battery Tester. (Then, they put our story on the front page.)

Hey kids, don't try this at home, though. You'd better have very deep experience with batteries before trying what we've done because there is risk involved for the the un-informed and/or untrained.

The maintenance 'secrets' are shown on video clips in Dailymotion. (Uploaded April 2012).
MotorAdvanced DC Series Wound DC
Advanced 9" (say, why do we describe motors this way, anyway?) which is a very common motor on electric cars and electric trucks. It is a "brushed" motor, although I've been advised that no one has had to replace brushes in 15 years' use.
Drivetrain5-speed manual, with clutch. Third gear takes it to 110KPH already, so the 4th and 5th gears aren't necessary. More info in my EV Diary, Part One to Part Seven, which you can find with Google.
ControllerCurtis 1221B
The Curtis controller is alleged to be prone to failures on electric cars, so we did some gearing experiments to see what makes it fail. Then, we repaired the dead Curtis controller. A Post-Mortem gave us an education. Do a Google search for My EV Diary Part Seven for details. If you are thinking of building an electric car or any other electric vehicle, you should really try and read My EV Diary.. (parts one thru seven) We've discovered several workarounds that will be necessary to keep an electric car running at full power. Without our workarounds, many electric cars will be abandoned by their owners, as is evident in BC, Canada; and, even in London, UK, as the Reva G-Wiz city EV's are already allegedly selling at a large discount after only a year's use. (As of 8/07, according to a UK EV owner's association website.)

Batteries12.00 Volt,
Mix 'n match *DEAD* or *DISCARDED* gel and AGM batteries, started with 10, tried 17 units, and testing 30-40 batteries as we get more dead ones to revive and add to the pack. The oddball mix isn't as crazy as it looks - there is a method, and we've got typical max current draw down to 150amps, from 220A or so, before. Had to clear my head of battery-conventions to come up with the current (bad pun, eh?) configuration.
System Voltage120 Volts
A sooper-custom Zivan trickle-charger ala bad boy wild thing. Had to be "defanged", see details in My EV Diary on how the arguably problematic Zivan (pronounced Zay-van) batt charger was finally tackled.

We have special hardware that allows the the Zivan NG3 to function at different charge rates, too, so we don't trip circuit breakers on 15A outlets. (Check out the photo showing less than 14A draw, at the outlet, with a digital watt-meter in my EV Diary.)

HeaterFleecy underwear, like most members of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association are also wearing. Just kidding. It has a 12V electric heater.
DC/DC Converter
Dunno, but it works with the main switch off.
InstrumentationWhatt? I just look at the ammeter, forget the rest. Actually, it has all the standard stuff, just like all other electric cars in Vancouver.
Top Speed80 MPH (128 KPH)
I've only run it in third gear to 110KPH because I'm a chicken.
AccelerationCan be driven as fast as any gasser, but that sucks amps dry fast, so I don't do jack-rabbits.

Those of us who use our electric 'rides 24/7 know that there is nearly unlimited range, if you have a long extension cord, and/or a fast charger. We charge everywhere there is an outlet, at schools, shopping malls, anywhere.

If we need to double our driving range, we can even drop a 55 lb. Yamaha genset in the pickup and charge while we drive.


Good enough for all the city driving we need. With a full complement of batteries, this pickup will go 65kms, however, we carry less than a full complement, to get 45 kms. A 25 km. commute (two ways) drew the 12V's battery voltage down to 12.22V; which, according to the Depth of Discharge Chart, is only a 40% drawdown.

With th ~100AH gel/agm battery mix, range in uphill travel Vancouver/West Vancouver was 26 kms, including a long, steep run up Lions Gate Bridge. A video of the run, including the 150A typical peak (200A peak for a brief second) is now posted on YouTube.com) However, if you've owned an electric vehicle or two, you should know that your e-car can be plugged in everywhere there is an electric outlet, and therefore, range is "limitless" if you have the time to recharge. I feel that the nominal range isn't a hurdle to operating an electric car/truck, although the public is largely unaware of the easy-to-do workarounds to "opportunity charging" everywhere an electric car can be parked within 150 feet of an electric outlet.

Watt Hours/MileBy using my LOW AMP TECHNOLOGY (one of the 10 breakthroughs on this EV), draw is only 15 AMPs at 120VDC (system voltage) at 47 KPH on flat roads, no wind, such as No. 4 Road in Richmond, BC.
Seating CapacityThree, if we don't all inhale at the same time.
TiresAntiques. Or nearly so.
Conversion TimeWho cares, when you're all having fun wrenching and torquing battery bolts. Just ask any Vancouver Gadgeteer.
Conversion CostThere are three ways to acquire an (electric car) EV: Buy it, lease it, or charge it.
Additional FeaturesThis electric truck is armed with a unique home brew alarm system/pager and a hungry ghetto dog.

Do a Google search for My EV Diary Part Six and check out some fun photos.

People love to see the "Battery Powered" sign. Many people stop to ask questions nearly every day. In August 2007, this electric pickup truck was on mentioned on a radio show, TV, and five print media, specially because this electric vehicle is the world's cheapest "car" to own or operate. Not as fast as a Tesla, but in stop-light-to-stop-light driving, this EV can match any 'Vette across Broadway.
My new tel..

6 0 4 - 5 1 2 - 9 5 6 7

APRIL 2012: I have uploaded 'maintenance secrets' on Dailymotion, which will be useful for anybody who wants to make their EV last, on the wet roads of Vancouver, as long as this EV. The videos also show why the Curtis controllers needed to be modified, in our climate. There are also battery tests showing that the revived batteries are still showing "good battery" on an SBT-3 battery tester, after nearly 5 years of use. (These discarded batteries were already 5 years old, or older, when we got them.)

In a nutshell, he're a summary of the BATTERY BREAKTHROUGHS in this electric pickup truck:

* Powered by scrapped batteries, revived to full power. It's a world's first, for a licensed electric pickup. We've been running electric bikes and scooters on revived batteries for years.

* Although most of the batteries running this pickup are "gel cell", this pickup's system voltage is only 120 volts. Many other electric cars running on gel batteries require higher voltages, with their accompanying "long string" ideosyncrasies, e.g. Don Cameron's 312V New VW, also on EValbum.

* We've figured out an intelligent way to reduce the average amps (when you stomp on the accelerator) to only 125A, whereas similar vehicles need to draw 250A or even much more.

* SEPTEMBER 2007: We achieved another major EV (revived) battery breakthrough, and this pickup drove up Lions Gate Bridge at the speed limit drawing only 50A average (60A very brief peak). See video on LiveVideo. Passenger with a bike carried by the pickup was a witness to this. This pickup can now cruise in city streets at 50A, thereby extending its range.

IMPORTANT NOTE: How long do revived batteries last? We've been reviving batteries for ebikes and escooters for three years, and simply transferred our knowledge to a 4-wheeled EV. One the red Ego-II, I got 3 years' use of a single set of batteries whereas most Ego-II owners (who used them daily) got only 6 months.

COST COMPARISON: My cost for a revived battery is nearly zero, just the cost of chasing them down, and picking them up. How long do revived batteries last? That depends on the suitability of the battery charger and how I charge the batteries. If the charger is suitably programmed, and used properly, the battery can be revived 5x-6x, according to my experience with my Currie and Ego ebikes.

My EV hobby has been further motivated by the new book, "Lives Per Gallon" likely available at your public library.

I'll post data as they're firmed from longer rides, as we're changing stuff constantly. Learned about Puekert the hard way, as this etruck rocketed up a hill on 35AH's worth of revived gel batteries. Experience is the best, and most expensive teacher.

Our (Gary Tang and I) goal was to beat the cost of batteries down to the numbers (zero cost) that we're used to in our electric bikes and scooters. We're hobbyists with frugal tendencies, and have noticed that electric car/truck batteries cost 2X or more of gasoline; and, are attempting to duplicate on this "experimental etruck", what we've done already for our customized/modded, high-utility, e-cycles.

In the process, I've learned (I think) why the electric car industry hasn't "happened" compared to the relative success of electric bikes and scooters: There are at least two missing/bad links in the supply chain. (This has nothing to do with battery revival.)

Suffice to say that to create the revived battery pack, I've tested many of the "commandments" of battery knowledge, including the Scientific American article on lithium batteries. (The Scientific American editors didn't print my Letter To The Editor, but I've posted it on forums.)


Everything here is just my opinion, my two cents worth, and my opinion could be wrong, too.

Did you see the movie, "Who Killed The Electric Car?" and wondered why the dozens of small electric car makers never became more successful? In fact, almost all of them bit the dust, or went belly-up! The notable exceptions include CANEV in Vancouver Island, probably because most of his business is for airport utility trucks, not cars. The other notable exception is AC Propulsion in California.

Here's the bottom line: Most electric cars cost 2X-10X more to operate, per mile, than our Toyota Corolla. (One exception is our electric pickup truck, which runs on nearly-free Revived Batteries.) Why? Batteries have a much-shorter-than-expected life in EV's, unless you have a work-around to prevent its early death. Early battery death can be as short as a several hundred miles. A new lead acid battery pack for this pickup truck would cost $3,500 or so. A new lithium battery pack for this pickup truck would cost $40,000 or so. Does this explain why only the the 'Tom Hanks' amoung us could afford the $90,000 eBox electric car?

So, why do lead acid batteries cost more than gas, you ask? In the words of some EV old-timers, "Batteries never die, they are murdered."

What is the weapon used to kill batteries, you ask? Its the battery charger, in my opinion. From what we could see in our electric pickup, the early death of batteries was caused by the Zivan battery charger -- the brand that is used by the vast majority of electric vehicles. We also observed that our Zivan NG3 charger's indicator lights indicated that the battery still needed charging, even though our multimeter indicated that the battery was already fully-charged and in the danger zone. So, we pulled the plug, even though the Zivan erroneously indicated that the batteries were less than 80% charged. Later, at least two batteries were damaged by the Zivan charger, imho. (We later discovered a way to defang the Zivan charger without the use of voltage clampers.)

As part of our review of battery devices, we tried battery voltage limiters ("voltage clampers") and soldered some together. However, on our pickup truck, the Zivan battery charger overran the programmed limits in voltage-clamping devices, unless we installed at least two clampers per battery.

We also used Battery Balancers and found that they didn't work as well as claimed, imho.

One other weak link imho are the popular Curtis controllers. There are tweaks and positioning issues necessary to prevent it from "blowing up" in my view. We had to repeat some of the tricks we learned from e-cycles on our EV's Curtis controller.

What do you think? Have we found What Killed The Electric Vehicle Cottage Industry, or not?

What do we do now? We've got a 30-cent-a-day EV that uses discarded batteries. What's the Next Step?

Rob Matthies

Update: On 8/11/07, while this pickup was on display at Kids Only Market at Granville Island, a woman, one of the producers of "Who Killed The Electric Car" visited us. It was featured on Fairchild TV news also.



Please Google for "Low Amp Draw Electric Pickup" and "Revived Battery Pickup" to see an important energy breakthrough.

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