The MotorSide DoorInterior ViewStock Instrument ClusterCruising Equipment KWH+ MeterNi-Cd Battery Pack
OwnerPhil S
Owner's Other EV1994 Electric Cushman ZEV
LocationBerkeley, California US map
Email email image
Vehicle1989 GMC Conceptor Electric G-Van
*** This vehicle has been sold, I'm maintaining this entry for history. If you wish to contact the new owner, I will be happy to forward any emails received. ***

Interesting History! Apparently there were about 500 of these vans made on an assembly line in Ontario, Canada in a partnership with GM. They left GM's line as full-size 1 Ton vans, but bare and with no engine. The term used is "glider", they were equipped with special EV wiring, instrumentation, etc. The Engine type in the GM VIN code is "X" which means no engine. They were then completed by Conceptor which, at that time, seems to have been a division of Vehma International of America, Inc., in turn, an engineering division of leading automotive component supplier Magna International. The van was actually re-engineered by Vehma and GM to be an EV as drawings I have seem to indicate. Apparently they were then sent to SCE (Southern California Edison) who seems to have installed the battery pack. There are 3 manufacturers listed on the B-pillar! I found an interesting article here: WebPage
MotorNelco N200ML012 Separately Excited DC
Monster 385lb Sepex motor (with interpoles) and both internal and external forced air cooling. I've never seen the motor get warm enough for the external fan to be needed. Power rated at 60HP (45kw) and 238 ft. lbs. (Nm) torque continuous. Peak power unknown, but I'm sure quite massive.
DrivetrainThe rear axle is "flipped" so the drive spline faces aft and where the fuel tank normally would live, there is a stubby little drive shaft that feeds into a custom-built transfer case. The electric motor is mounted longitudinally on the passenger side and connected into the transfer case. The whole assembly is mounted on rubber mounts to a subframe that bolts up into the van. The drive ratio of the transfer case is 1.85:1 and the axle is 4.875:1. In the transfer case, They have an electronic speed pick up and a parking pawl lock system just like an automatic. It's nicely built, but can "whine" a lot during regen. (much like the way a standard transmission does in reverse)
ControllerChloride Mark 5-A
High Frequency PWM based on a single massive 500A Darlington power block and a couple of smaller (300A) ones for Regen/Sync Rectification. There is also a smaller 4-quadrant PWM drive circuit for the SepEx field. Two 600 amp contactors break both positive AND negative pack voltage. All control circuits are optically isolated from everything else. Completing the unit is a 40A @ 14v DC-DC converter. Built on a massive cast heat-sink with a fiberglass top cover and mounted where the internal combustion engine would normally live. (ironic eh?) Weighs in at 99lbs!
Batteries33 Saft STM-5-200, 6.00 Volt, Nickel-Cadmium, Flooded
No longer in production, Originally made for PSA (Peugeot/Citroen). ~40kwh pack capacity. The blocks are arranged in a custom-made stainless-steel carrier that hangs from the frame underneath the van. This makes for good handling with it's low center of gravity and stiff springs. There are no EV components inside the van, so the full space is usable. The battery tray also has 2 fans and ducting to cool the batteries when used in very hot climates, here in San Francisco the fans are not needed though!
System Voltage200 Volts
ChargerLeMarche A70B
Offboard (and VERY heavy) charger made out of a huge transformer and some big diodes and SCRs. Controlled by Motorola MCU. Originally designed for Lead-Acid, but now runs a dual-stage charging algorithm designed by Saft. Can put out 50A @ 280v.
Heater5kw (17,000btu/h) Diesel-fired heater with coolant reservoir feeding GM standard heater-core. Works well!
Also has stock GM air conditioning driven by 4 hp permanent magnet motor which still works fine!
DC/DC Converter
14v @ 40a MOSFET based, built into the Chloride controller. When A/C is engaged an auxiliary 75a alternator is also spun up with the compressor to assist with the high load.
InstrumentationCluster made by Delco for the Electric van has electronic speedo/odometer, SOC charge gauge (flaky, and not the best even if it worked right), Heater fuel level and temp, 12v aux voltage, and misc warning lights. SCE added an original Cruising Equipment KWH+ meter which works great, and I've added blue LED Volt and Amp meters. (see pictures)
Top Speed60 MPH (96 KPH)
Van has enough power to keep accelerating well past 60, but at around 55 the motor is doing 6000 RPM which is what the manufacturer spec is. The controller cuts power to the motor at 60mph/6000rpm.
AccelerationAstonishingly good considering the van supposedly weighs over 6000 lbs!
RangeThe battery pack seems to have great capacity, which is amazing considering they are over 20 years old! The most I've eeked out of them so far is 56 miles, but it was slow going at the end. Apparently even once the batteries lose capacity, you can change the electrolyte and the capacity will be restored! What a great pack! I have all kinds of technical info from Saft for them.
Watt Hours/Mile500 Wh/Mile
The pack is a little under 40kwh capacity. While you can run the Ni-Cd's down to totally zero, (in fact they PREFER it)
EV Miles
Current:14,423 Miles (23,206 Kilometers)
Seating Capacity5 adults and still has spacious cargo capacity. All batteries are under the van body, so FULL interior space is usable!
Curb Weight6,000 Pounds (2,727 Kilograms)
I know the Ni-cd pack and it's all stainless-steel carrier weigh in at 2100lbs, but I'm unsure what the whole van weighs. One of these days I will get it weighed.
TiresOriginally 8.75R16.5 Light Truck @80PSI, but I also have new rims for a late model van with 16" tires.
Conversion TimeFactory Conversion. I've put quite a few thousand miles on it since I became the owner. It has amazingly low miles still though and all mechanicals are in great shape!
Conversion CostSupposedly these sold for about $100,000 back in 1990. They were targeted to fleet users. I have about $5k into the whole thing (lots of spare parts including motor, controller, etc.)
Additional FeaturesCustom Electronic anti-theft/immobilization system. Power steering and brakes are stock GM "hydramatic" system like used on Diesels except driven by separate electric motor. Came with "headache rack" which I removed to restore van to People carrying mode. You can cram a lot of people in it!
Pretty amazing vehicle for it's time. Heavy; yes, but pretty capable and torquey, driving almost like a normal v6 van. Good for city driving on secondary streets with it's powerful regenerative braking system. Very little actual use of the service brakes are needed. To understand why these vans came into existence, (and then disappeared) I highly recommend you rent a copy of the documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car" at your local video store. WebPage

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