OwnerRichard & Fiona Blinco
LocationMarino, South Australia Australia map
Email email image
Vehicle1983 Suzuki SS80V
Two seat, lightweight panel van, aka 'Red Rocket 1'. Bought as a partially completed project. Formerly three cylinder 800cc ICE.
MotorD&D Motor Systems, Inc. ES-32A-50 Separately Excited DC
Originally had ES 10E-33 motor that came with car. Not up to the job but living with it for the moment. Replaced with ES-32A-50 May 2013.Replaced with Motenergy MR1114 when controller failed.
DrivetrainOriginal 4 speed gearbox, no clutch. Custom built adapter plate with a Lovejoy coupling.
ControllerSevcon PowerPak
Original controller failed. Decided to go with different controller/motor configuration. Sevcon Gen 4 size 4 with Motenergy PMAC motor.
Has been difficult to get this setup working mainly as the range of parameters with the PMAC motor controller is a bit beyond my experience.
Have the dvt software and CAN interface but getting adequate info/advice about the settings for this controller has been very difficult.

Car is back on the road as of Jan 2015 but working on the drivability.Mainly looking at four parameters in the software. Very much trial and error at the moment.
Batteries24 CALB/Skyenergy 130ah, 3.40 Volt, Lithium Iron Phosphate
Originally Lead AGM
System Voltage72 Volts
Charger TC Charger
HeaterTwo 12V travel hair dryers for demisting. Mounted directly into vent outlets under dash. Rocker switch to activate.
DC/DC ConverterSevcon
InstrumentationSevcon ClearView display/interface.
Top Speed45 MPH (72 KPH)
Range38 Miles (61 Kilometers)
Lithium upgrade delivered significant boost. 60km to 80% DOD
Watt Hours/Mile180 Wh/Mile
Seating Capacity2 adults
Curb Weight1,433 Pounds (651 Kilograms)
Lost 70kg with upgrade to Lithium Ion
Conversion TimeLots.
Conversion CostInitially $6000 - Car with motor, electrics, batteries and housing complete.
Other costs - Engineer's report $500, repairs to charger $400, lots of other misc items maybe $1000. Second hand and surplus materials/parts sourced by my brother.

Lithium battery upgrade $6000

New second hand motor from NZ, $800 including shipping.

Additional FeaturesNo heating, no airbags, traction control, advanced brake systems, front crumple zone. 1983 was a scary year for driver comfort and safety in a tiny car.
Conversion originally started by Derek Clarke who set up the electrics, motor and battery housing. Bought the car in a semi drivable state but requiring more work to get it past a DETI inspection.

Had some issues with the motor/gearbox alignment so we replaced existing motor adapter plate and coupling with a new aluminium adapter plate designed and fabricated by my brother Ian. He also fitted a
Lovejoy coupling. Got rid of the clutch as part of this overhaul.

Repairs to the gearbox gear selector arm, replaced drive shaft seals.
New (second hand) seats, seat belts, roof lining, battery ventilation system, new aluminium battery housing lid, polyurethane(?) sheeting under car, installed PakTraker system, motor temperature sensor, some minor rust repairs and a bunch of other minor but fiddly bits!

July - October 2012 Lithium Ion upgrade to replace the dead AGM batteries. With much help from brother Ian, pulled out previous battery mounting and engineered a very tidy mounting system, aluminium and
Re-routed HV cables, put all the electronics into an aluminium box mounted on the gearbox. New contactor/coil, Cycle Analyst, battery charger mounted in the front, power connection fitted in previous fuel door.
Lots of issues between controller and contactor slowly worked through. Reversing now through controller, much smoother than reverse gear.

Regenerative braking set up mainly to assist the pitiful non power assisted original brakes - hydraulic pressure sensor on brake line feeds info to controller for proportional regen.

New rear shockers. Getting the springs at the front re-set so the car sits at the proper height.

Feb - April 2012. Motor finally gave up. Burnt field windings from working too hard. Had it rewound but by chance connected with Thomas Everth (WebPage who was considering selling his more powerful model of D&D motor after having issues with controllers for sep ex motors.
Eventually got round to buying his motor, has arrived in Adelaide and should have it in next weekend. Very much hoping that this will solve overheating problems, give a bit more power outputand longevity.

May 2013 - ES-32A-50 motor arrived from NZ. Had to cut a key in the drive shaft, swapped the rear bearing. Installed in a few hours. With some reprogramming of controller motor works much better than previous, temp stays withing operating range. Much happier!

Quick survey of the car shows that we have redesigned and/or replaced all of the original conversion except for the Sevcon controller and DC converter. I suppose most of us are not doing this with the economics or the process in mind.

Controller died Sep 2013. Not fixable and given all the issues with motor over heating have decided to look
at new motor controller combination.

New Sevcon Gen 4 and motenergy combo working but different torque characteristics to previous setup make for interesting driving. Motor theoretically has more power but seemingly not so much at take off.
Robert Doig has similar EV setup but slightly bigger motor and seems to get by. Would probably be ok with clutch, drive like a regular manual but got rid of this with the previous setup!!!
Considering options such as putting 2-speed auto in and bypassing torque converter.

April 2016- Gearbox sprang a big leak while out driving and tweaking the controller. Given the amount of
time, effort and money spent so far and other issues, wondering where to go from here.

June 2016 - Have bought a 2013 iMiev. Great car with excellent range and drivability around the city. I think the days of tinkering with conversions are at an end!

2019 - Unfortunately the end of the road for Little Red, Dismantled, EV parts sold, recycled or repurposed, car has gone to scrap.
iMiev still running really well. Battery capacity/range better than most reviews. 140km per charge.

code by jerry