Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nissan Leaf vs. Chevy S10 pickup

A few years ago, my sister was getting rid of her Geo Metro so I bought it off of her for $1.   
I had great plans to convert it to an all electric car. I only needed a 30 mile max range for my commute to work and back. The Geo was the ideal car for converting to EV. It was light weight and had good handling.  People have used them for years as a donor car for electric cars.
I stripped out the engine and acquired most the parts I needed,  One day, we decided to move to a larger house. Sadly I had to admit defeat when the house we moved in to was out of the range of the electric car's design. I chocked it up to a learning experience and sold the parts, liquefying my asset.

To this day, I still consider this poor excuse for an excuse my greatest failure. I vow that my next vehicle will be an all electric car.  

I have been thinking about two options: The Nissan Leaf or converting a Chevy S10 pickup truck to an electric vehicle.  

Let's list the pros and cons: 
  • The Nissan Leaf is very expensive but super cool. The Chevy S10 EV will be about 1/3rd the cost and also super cool.
  • The Nissan Leaf is a new car filled with the latest technological gadgets.
  • The Chevy S10 pickup EV will be very basic and plain. I've never had such fancy stuff in a car so why start now?
  • The Leaf has a 100 mile range. The S10 EV will be lucky to get 60 miles. My commute is only 20 miles each way.
  • The S10 being a pickup truck will be able to haul lumber, sheet-rock, dirt and bags of concrete mix.
  • My current vehicle (1992 Honda Accord) has been my reliable “work truck” and has served me well in hauling everything except for Sheetrock. The Leaf would be too expensive to use in this manner.
  • The S10 would be a total blast to strip down and convert over to an electric car.   I need me a new hobby!  The Leaf, well....  Not much to do on it.  Drive it home and then what? 
  • The Leaf will cost me almost $31,000 where as the S10 will set me back $11,600. I could buy a lot of whatever with the $18,900 saved in rolling my own instead of buying a bran new car.  
Nissan Leaf (100 miles)         Chevy S-10 (60 mile range) 
Car                    $33,720.00      Minor repair work                $250.00
Charging station   $2,200.00       Donor vehicle '94-98 S10  $1,750.00
Rebate               -$7,500.00       A/C Electric Kit                 $8,115.00
Acquisition Fee       $595.00       x18 T-145 6V batteries      $3,222.00
Taxes                  $1,958.51      Miscellaneous                      $500.00
Sell Honda             -$500.00      Sell Honda                         -$500.00
                                               Tax Credit                       -$1,333.70
                                               Sell old truck parts              -$400.00

Net Cost Leaf    $30,473.51  Net Cost Chevy S10 EV   $11,603.30
Savings of converting vs. buying new  $18,870.21

Which begs the question, why not drop an extra $4000 on Lithium batteries instead of lead acid ones.  
Pound for pound, lithium batteries have 3 times the capacity of lead acid. Not only would the S10 have extended range but it would also have increased weight carrying capacity. Since the batteries are the last thing I would buy when converting to an electric car, I have time to give this more thought.

The Results Are In! 
I'm going to try my hand at converting another electric car. Now I just need to find a cheap S10 with a zillion miles but a good frame, body and interior.