Interior/dash layoutLeSled Front Battery PackLeSled fender/firewall mods
OwnerChris Tromley
LocationPhiladelphia suburbs, Pennsylvania United States map
Vehicle1980 Renault LeCar
(U.S. Electricar "Lectric Leopard")
MotorPrestolite MTA 4001 Compound Wound DC
Original Leopard 48V motor
Drivetrainoriginal Renault 4 speed trans, FWD, motor
behind front wheels
ControllerCafe Electric Z1k-LV
Batteries20 US Battery US145, 6.00 Volt, Lead-Acid, Flooded
1400 lbs. of lead - quite a bit for such a
small car, but there are no signs that
it's too much. No creaks, groans, body
flex, nothing. I'm impressed with the
Renault's strength.
System Voltage120 Volts
ChargerManzanita Micro PFC-20B
Heater1500 Watt Ceramic in original Renault
blower housing. (The US Electricar heater
was a fan blowing over a nichrome wire in
the passenger footwell!)
DC/DC ConverterVicor Batmod/Megamod
Batmod alone wasn't enough at 200W.
Added triple Megamod booster. (800W
total) Control of Vicor bricks is done
with dirt-simple board cookbooked from
Vicor app notes. It's water cooled
using a home made cold plate that's fed
by a branch from the Zilla's cooling
InstrumentationBattery Volts, Battery Amps
Top Speed85 MPH (136 KPH)
Based on others running Leopards at 120V.
Not yet tested, don't need more than 65
mph on my commute.
RangeNot tested yet, but 30 miles is easy.
With ~45% of total weight in lead, 80
miles should be realistic. (Tour de Sol
competitors with similar construction have
done 160 miles under ideal conditions.)
EV Miles
Start:105 Miles (168 Kilometers)
Current:1,300 Miles (2,091 Kilometers)
Total:1,195 Miles (1,922 Kilometers)
Seating Capacity4 adults. All original seating is still
usable, a rarity for such a small EV with
so much lead. But the trunk is filled
with batteries. The rear seat still folds
down for more storage.
Curb Weight3,000 Pounds (1,363 Kilograms)
Tiresoriginal Michelin X 145R-13
Conversion TimeWho knows? Calendar time was Way Too
Long. (Years of intermittent work.)
Conversion CostAfraid to count, but less than a new econo
US Electricar is the manufacturer of record. They bought
Renault "gliders" (cars without engines) and
finished/converted them with electric powertrains. They
did a very crude job of it to keep the cost down. With
only 48V pack voltage, they could barely reach 50 mph and
took a very long time to do it.

I re-did the conversion, upgraded to modern components
and went to 120V pack voltage. The goal was to make a
practical, 4 seat, genuinely-usable-range commuter.

It's not easy to fit 10 GC batteries in the front of a
Leopard. Lots of head-scratching, metal reshaping and
component relocation involved. (Like the windshield wiper motor -
think about it....) Don't try this unless you
have lots of time and know what you're doing. It's worth
it though - a FWD car with a rearward weight bias is not
a good combination.

Renault Gordini Turbo torsion bars, anti-roll bars and
Koni shocks are used. On paper the suspension is roughly
twice as stiff as the Leopard. Also on the plus side,
adding four batteries to the front makes a huge
improvement in F/R weight distribution. But the car
still handles like a pig on stilts. (I haven't driven a
standard Leopard so I don't know how it compares.) When
adding lots of weight, keeping a low center of gravity is
important. It wasn't possible on this car.

Others have run Leopards at 120V with good results, but
I'm being cautious and limiting the Zilla controller to
96V max motor volts for now. Performance is adequate to
keep up with traffic, but only in the summer time. With
any drop in temp the pack sags enough to cause problems.
(Point of reference: a 96V Rabbit is barely highway

code by jerry