OwnerJay Caplan
LocationBrentwood, Tennessee United States map
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Vehicle1979 Renault LeCar
Lectric Leopard by US Electricar that was modified with a controller to replace the original contactors and increased to 96V.
MotorPrestolite MTA 4001 Compound Wound DC
Stock motor that came with the Lectric Leopard. I rebuilt this motor and advanced the timing 10 degrees opposite the direction of rotation. This is to accomodate the 96V used instead of the 48V for which the motor was designed. Reduces arcing and increases power especially at low speed. Uses a bit more juice, but that would be expected with more power.
DrivetrainStock 4 speed manual, no clutch or flywheel
ControllerCurtis 1221C
400 Amp
Batteries16 Trojan T-105, 6.00 Volt, Lead-Acid, Flooded
System Voltage96 Volts
ChargerZivan NG1
3 stage 96 Volt
12 Volt 3 stage charger for auxiliary battery.
Both chargers onboard and use one 120 VAC plug
HeaterAdded two heaters. The first is a 120VAC two range space heater that sits in the passenger front floor and is connected to the line current block that feeds the battery chargers. It is turned on an hour or two before driving in the winter. This heats up the cabin and 10 batteries that are in the cabin. You leave the garage with a warm car. It is thermostatically controlled and has a fan and safety upset switch. I run it at the highest temp and the low range in the garage. When I arrive back at the airport (where they let me plug in at the parking lot) I turn on the heater to the high range, and then go wait for my baggage - the car is warm when I get there.

The second heater is a wrap around drum heater. It was rated 3300 watts at 240VAC. It is running off the 96VDC drive battery pack so at this voltage yields 528 watts. It is switched on the dash, 10A fuse, 16 ga line and it was straightened out and mounted under the back seat. There is a gap under the back seat and hot air comes out here. This is very good for heat and hardly lowers the range or performance of the car. May add one more of these as second high range heater. They are radiant heat, not hot enough to set anything on fire.

The car needs a better defroster than the hot wire from the 12VDC battery that came with the Electricar, will have to find something fan forced.
DC/DC Converter
None. 12 Volt marine AGM battery for lights, etc
InstrumentationWesterberg 0-100% charge (80-104 VDC)
400 Amp ammeter
Top Speed65 MPH (104 KPH)
I drive it up to 40 mph in 1st gear and 25-60 mph in 2nd. 3rd gear is only used on the freeway for speeds 55-65 mph and probably best to stay in 2nd and not go over 60 mph. 4th gear not used. Normal shift point is 35 mph from 1st into 2nd. Downshift from 2nd to 1st is at 20 mph before accelerating again.
AccelerationAcceleration is improved since I removed the clutch, coupling, flywheel, and throwout bearing, especially from a start. I drive it clutchless. Made an adapter from 2" bar stock and the splined hub that was originally in the clutch disk. So the motor is attached directly through the adapter to the transaxle. Also added a pilot brass bushing in the center of the motor shaft to accomodate the tail end of the trans shaft.
Range50 Miles (80 Kilometers)
max, I rarely drive over 30 miles total trip
Watt Hours/Mile320 Wh/Mile
EV Miles
Current:19,844 Miles (31,928 Kilometers)
    As of 6/28/2008
Seating Capacity3 adults. I have removed the front passenger seat for room to store my wheelchair and also the ice box for air conditioning (detailed below). Passengers sit in back seats.
Tires145R13 74S
Conversion Cost$6700 total
Additional FeaturesBuilt air conditioning system that holds 9 x 10 lb ice packs (HDPE) loaded from a chest freezer in the garage. 3 hours cooling. Has 12V electric radiator fan on the side of the ice box to distribute cold air. Box is pierced HDPE construction and there is a space between each ice pack to allow air flow.

Added power brakes using an electric vacuum pump that runs off the aux battery, accumulator tank made from scrap 4" PVC Schedule 40 water pipe, and a vacuum switch to cycle the pump.

Removed clutch/flywheel/coupling and replaced with splined adapter from motor shaft to trans shaft. Greatly improved acceleration and eliminated flywheel/clutch vibration. Shift it clutchless. It upshifts and downshifts very fast now, doesn't take a lot of work from the synchronizers to get it into gear.

Added a 120 mm computer fan blowing upwards underneath the aluminum heat sink beneath the Curtis controller. This removes enough heat to prevent the controller from shifting into SAFE mode on a steep hill (300 amp) on the way home. The fan is powered by the 12VDC auxiliary battery and runs all the time the key is ON. Also used a big tube of Dow Corning heat sink compound (zinc oxide) between the controller and heat sink. Will see if this helps this summer.

Hoping to move up to a larger controller at some time, maybe the Curtis 550A, but then you have to worry if you are damaging the batteries. The 400A 16xT-105 MTA-4001 is very usable for city driving in nearly all situations. The car is a little small to take on the freeway, but I do in good weather, drive it at 57 mph.

The car charges up most of the way from a short trip in 2-3 hours, so often drive it twice in a day's time. Full charge is 8-10 hours. This is my first EV and I love it, it was updated and I purchased it from Mike Domanski in Florida. Added the vacuum pump, ice conditioning, motor rebuild and timing advance, heaters, and adapter to replace clutch/flywheel here since I have owned it.

I hardly ever drive my gasoline cars anymore - they aren't as fun as this one is!

code by jerry