EVs on the Trail- Firsthand Experience

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In my distant past, I had some experience with an EV on the trail and maybe it can offere a little perspective. It was 1999 and I was the US Correspondent for a British magazine. I was testing a 1971 Series IIA Land Rover converted into an EV by Wilde Evolutions, then of Port Townsend, Washington. While this converted EV was in the "stone knives and bearskins" category compared to today's EVs, and the future Scout, it gave me a good feel for what it's like to wheel an EV. In a word, "Wonderful!" Instant torque. Accelerator response that was infinite from the wheels barely moving to pin-you-in-the-seat acceleration and four wildly spinning tires. Levels of torque that were scary. Total silence. It was so quiet that you could hear the wind, the wildlife and vehicle sounds usually drowned out by an engine... the tires scunching on the rocks and slipping in the sand.

Here are some details of the EV I dubbed in the story, "Lectro-Rover." It used an Advanced DC Motors electric motor attached to the original 4-speed gearbox. Batteries were 16 Group 31 Optimas wired in series to produce 192 volts. The Raptor 1200 amp controller limited the electric motor to 450 lbs-ft of torque (at ZERO rpm), though it was designed to produce up to 965 lbs-ft. with full current. Range was 25-40 miles off road and 15-30 on road. The system had a rudimentary regen setup that would trickle in a few amps when it felt like it.

It was a multi-day trip that took us from Grand Junction, Colorado, off-road to Moab, Utah, then cruising around Moab for a few days. That included crossing the Delores River! The trip from GJ to Moab was way beyond the Lectro-Rover's range, so a 25 KW generator was set into the back and rigged to supply power... a hybrid setup if you will... for the long distances. The setup was tested onroad and worked fine but when the road got rough, it was found the carb on the generator flooded over on the bumps and angles. When the batteries ran down, we had to stop and charge for an hour or more to proceed, dragging the trip out considerably. We fiddled with the carb and improved but never cured it.

Once on the trails, with a full charge on the batts, you could get pretty long runs. In a typical wheeling group, you creep along and stop a lot, waiting for everyone to clear the obstacles. None of that that drew much juice. Even the obstacles were short term ,high draw situations. While waiting, we fired up the generator to take on as many amps as possible. It was the long runs from the highway to the trailhead, then back from the end of the trail on dirt roads and highways that ate the amps.

Trail performance was impressive. The Land Rover was mostly stock but had been improved with sticky 31x10.50-15 tires and lockers at both ends. With the way the batteries were mounted, Wilde Evolutions was able to improve the weight balance and that delivered a noticeably good performance improvement. The throttle control made the operator able to finely control any situation. No worries about stalling, selecting the right gear, not enough grunt or flooding out on angles. While the transmission could be used in lower gears to ease amp draw, from a performance standpoint, it did about the same no matter what gear you were in.

Below are some pics from the trip. It was a memorable one for me and made me a lot less resistant to the idea of EVs on the trail than most geezers my age might be. It occurs to me that when the new crop of Scout EV drivers read this report, it will be like a great grandfather sitting in the living room telling stories about Model-T Fords. The new equipment is going to be light years ahead in so many ways. I'm looking forward to trying it!

Oh, and if anyone recognizes that 50+ degree climb as the Dump Bump in Moab... yes, the Lectro-Rover made it! And nobly got electrocuted in the river!
 

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In my distant past, I had some experience with an EV on the trail and maybe it can offere a little perspective. It was 1999 and I was the US Correspondent for a British magazine. I was testing a 1971 Series IIA Land Rover converted into an EV by Wilde Evolutions, then of Port Townsend, Washington. While this converted EV was in the "stone knives and bearskins" category compared to today's EVs, and the future Scout, it gave me a good feel for what it's like to wheel an EV. In a word, "Wonderful!" Instant torque. Accelerator response that was infinite from the wheels barely moving to pin-you-in-the-seat acceleration and four wildly spinning tires. Levels of torque that were scary. Total silence. It was so quiet that you could hear the wind, the wildlife and vehicle sounds usually drowned out by an engine... the tires scunching on the rocks and slipping in the sand.

Here are some details of the EV I dubbed in the story, "Lectro-Rover." It used an Advanced DC Motors electric motor attached to the original 4-speed gearbox. Batteries were 16 Group 31 Optimas wired in series to produce 192 volts. The Raptor 1200 amp controller limited the electric motor to 450 lbs-ft of torque (at ZERO rpm), though it was designed to produce up to 965 lbs-ft. with full current. Range was 25-40 miles off road and 15-30 on road. The system had a rudimentary regen setup that would trickle in a few amps when it felt like it.

It was a multi-day trip that took us from Grand Junction, Colorado, off-road to Moab, Utah, then cruising around Moab for a few days. That included crossing the Delores River! The trip from GJ to Moab was way beyond the Lectro-Rover's range, so a 25 KW generator was set into the back and rigged to supply power... a hybrid setup if you will... for the long distances. The setup was tested onroad and worked fine but when the road got rough, it was found the carb on the generator flooded over on the bumps and angles. When the batteries ran down, we had to stop and charge for an hour or more to proceed, dragging the trip out considerably. We fiddled with the carb and improved but never cured it.

Once on the trails, with a full charge on the batts, you could get pretty long runs. In a typical wheeling group, you creep along and stop a lot, waiting for everyone to clear the obstacles. None of that that drew much juice. Even the obstacles were short term ,high draw situations. While waiting, we fired up the generator to take on as many amps as possible. It was the long runs from the highway to the trailhead, then back from the end of the trail on dirt roads and highways that ate the amps.

Trail performance was impressive. The Land Rover was mostly stock but had been improved with sticky 31x10.50-15 tires and lockers at both ends. With the way the batteries were mounted, Wilde Evolutions was able to improve the weight balance and that delivered a noticeably good performance improvement. The throttle control made the operator able to finely control any situation. No worries about stalling, selecting the right gear, not enough grunt or flooding out on angles. While the transmission could be used in lower gears to ease amp draw, from a performance standpoint, it did about the same no matter what gear you were in.

Below are some pics from the trip. It was a memorable one for me and made me a lot less resistant to the idea of EVs on the trail than most geezers my age might be. It occurs to me that when the new crop of Scout EV drivers read this report, it will be like a great grandfather sitting in the living room telling stories about Model-T Fords. The new equipment is going to be light years ahead in so many ways. I'm looking forward to trying it!

Oh, and if anyone recognizes that 50+ degree climb as the Dump Bump in Moab... yes, the Lectro-Rover made it! And nobly got electrocuted in the river!
I'd love to do this to a '76 Traveler.
 
I'd love to do this to a '76 Traveler.
On that "stone knives and bearskins" level, it's pretty easy to do that kind of conversion and the battery choices are sooooo much better than Wilde had back then. If you pull the trigger on the project, keep us posted.
 
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On that "stone knives and bearskins" level, it's pretty easy to do that kind of conversion and the battery choices are sooooo much better that Wilde had back then. If you pull the trigger on the project, keep us posted.

Someone local to me has a current Scout EV conversion being done. It should almost be finished. Definitely going to shoot and feature that one.
 
Someone local to me has a current Scout EV conversion being done. It should almost be finished. Definitely going to shoot and feature that one.
Can't wait to see it. I have often contemplated whether it might be better to eliminate the trans altogether and couple the motor directly to the transfer case, reversing the motor to go backwards. Rod Wilde considered that and we discussed it but that was back in 1999 and I no longer recall the details on why he didn't go that route. IIRC, it's pretty easy to reverse a motor via the controller. It certainly would eliminate some friction losses and free up more underhood space for batteries.
 
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