OwnerFrancis Howard
LocationNipomo, California United States map
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Vehicle1981 Volkswagen Pickup
Used to be diesel
MotorGeneral Electric 5BT1 Series Wound DC
old grey 9" rated 29hp at 99 volts. Chosen because I found it cheap.
DrivetrainFront wheel drive
ControllerCurtis 1231C
550 amps
Batteries22 US Battery US-125, 6.00 Volt, Lead-Acid, Flooded
135 amp/hr, cheaper than Trojan
System Voltage132 Volts
Charger 120 volt 'badboy'
Nothing but a $6 e-bay bridge rectifier on a scrap of aluminum. This is why I selected 132 volts; it draws 45 amps briefly and gradually tapers down to 1 amp and floats there. Has a standard cheap dryer outlet mounted by the door where I won't forget to unplug it, and a dangerous exposed plug with a on/off safety switch, timer and amp/hr meter. Touching battery terminals can be fatal.
Heater$3 thriftstore heater: took it apart, replaced fan with a 12-volt muffin fan, bypassed all the safety junk because it would burn up if it ever tried to switch off power. A toggle switch turns on fan and activates a magnetic blowout relay from KTA-EV.com. Every other type of switch and relay burned up.
DC/DC Converter
waiting for a bargain
InstrumentationCurtis %charge, KW/Hr meter, motor amps, original temp guage with original sending unit screwed into a nut glued to motor...hey, it works
Top Speed75 MPH (120 KPH)
I usually drive 55-60mph in 4th gear; 5th just wastes amps. In 3rd gear, car drives like an automatic with good acceleration from 0-55, then 4th for quiet cruising up to 75. 1st gear is only used for starting up a steep hill to reduce amp draw.
AccelerationExcellent! Exciting! especially in 2nd gear up to 35mph, then another powerful surge in 3rd and 4th. A load of 5 bales of hay doesn't slow it down.
Range50 Miles (80 Kilometers)
I've gone 75 miles, barely creeping up the driveway, but I try to limit range to 50. The badboy charger sucks up a 20 mile charge in one hour, so I can come and go all day; sometimes 150 miles a day. The downside is, I can only charge it at home. Most everyone else has 15 amp breakers. I welcome suggestions.
Watt Hours/Mile1 Wh/Mile
Draws 90 amps@60mph, 60A@50mph. One kilowatt/hour gets me 2 miles. Others claim better; I don't know why.
EV Miles
Current:12 Miles (19 Kilometers)
    As of 11/18/2006
Seating Capacity2
Curb Weight2,800 Pounds (1,272 Kilograms)
Half the weight is batteries.
TiresSumimoto HR200 low resistance in front($35), trailer tires in rear. Trailer tires in front rode too rough on the mile long dirt road to my house.
Conversion TimeI bought this pickup from a friend's widow. It had 12 dead 6-volt batteries that never performed very well. I built one like it in 3 days...advertised both, sold one, kept one. Its all I ever drive.
Conversion CostI don't know what it cost to build this truck; the builder had a complete machine shop in his garage. He bought the motor from me for $200. I bought 3 from a guy who was building S-10's for municipal districts until some thugs came in and offered him $1million to quit and made vague threats to harm his family. The one I built in 3 days and sold, cost $3000 to get it on the road with used parts, (new batteries) and $2000 more to make it better.
Additional FeaturesThe main reasons I like Rabbit pickups are because there are ready-made adaptors and components, they're easy to work on, light weight, and the front wheel drive leaves the entire back end available to drop 15 batteries below the bed behind the cab, 4 more behind the axle, and 4 in front with room to spare. The only suspension modification is to add one leaf in each rear spring, very easy after you cut the bed for batteries. To fit 15 batteries in the main hole, you have to remove the right rear shock...you'll never miss it. You can do all of the cutting in 1/2 hour with a saws-all...don't cut through the brake lines like I did.
I've built 4 of these over the years. Clutch is optional; they're easy to shift without it. 16 batteries will run the cars 60 mph for 20 miles, 50 miles@35mph. Its fun...try it. Be ready for the next generation batteries.

code by jerry