"The Force"

UPDATE: In Spring 2004, I sold the Force. I'm now "EV-less" and plan to get a (ughh) hybrid to replace it. Circumstances change, and although I believe EV is the "right" way to go, it doesn't fit our lifestyle right now. It went to a good home, an avid EVer, and will probably resurface with new technology batteries. Thanks to all those who have helped me along the EV journey!

The following information is still here for those who might learn a little from my experience.

I purchased "The Force" in Sept. 2000. It's a 1992 Solectria Force, a converted Geo Metro. It was originally owned by Northern States Power Company, and came to me with about 8 years and 13,000 miles of (mostly demo) service, totally dry batteries, and brand new tires. Other than a few dings on the body, it was in almost showroom shape. Towed it home using the fantastic supplied tow bar (built by quality power company mechanics, I assume), and started driving it. I drove it to work the next day and on the 25 mile round-trip commute, I creeped home... ariving at about 25 mph. Took the battery covers off and discovered totally dry batteries. Sent the wife to buy out our local grocer's stock of distilled water, and about 3 gallons later, all batteries were freshly watered.

At this stage, I charged, and commuted one more time. Similar (but better) results. Then, I checked the batteries under load after the commute, and found two that were under 11 volts, while all the rest were at about 12.4.

About this time, I read lots of archived messages in the EVDL, and started asking a questions of David Roden, who I noticed on the EVDL had a similar Solectria. I spent a few days trying to rejuvenate the two bad batteries with individual charge/discharge cycles, then gave in and replaced them with indentical new ones (Interstate SRM-27 deep cycle batteries). I got a good deal at the local Interstate dealer, who was quite EV friendly and knowledgeable.

Wow! The Force got a new lease on life. Top speed jumped from about 50 to right around 65 mph. Accelleration was almost as good as a "regular" car. No more appologies for slow speed or "leisurely acceleration" from me. I still haven't checked for maximum range, but routinely commute about 25 miles, and use around 35 AH daily. Since those batteries are rated around 125 AH (20 hr rate) when new, I suspect I have lots of reserve and am not discharging too deeply.

It has a working air conditioner. I won't know what that does to range until next summer. I have used the electric heater and not noticed any range reduction. I think there's a kerosene heater buried in there somewhere, but I haven't tried to use it.

I'm thrilled with the car. The AC drive system seems state of the art, even though it's 8 years old. Solectria did some quality design and construction work building this.

Current projects are to add an ammeter and voltmeter display, then do some mechanical maintenance. I doubt that the transmission fluid has ever been changed or the bearings checked and greased.

Here's a fact sheet like Northern States Power was distributing on it.

Many thanks to David Roden who fielded many questions from me. Also thanks to the EVDL contributors whose messages I used for research.

Some Pictures:

Links to other Solectria information... Other EV Links...

The Garden Tractor Story

This is actually my second "EV". My first was a converted garden tractor (riding lawn mower). It never made it to completion, but was a fun project. Read about "The Garden Tractor Story" here.