Electric car videos, starring the ForkenSwift

electric car videos

From almost the beginning of the conversion, I shot a series of videos to document its progress. There are actually still a few unfinished videos in the vault, and a new one yet to be made to show off a modification installed just this week.

The videos cover project milestones, from the very first spin-up of the electric motor in the car, to the first electric test drive, to a demo of how to shift gears without a clutch, to a battery pack "hot swap"... and more. Keep an eye on this page as new videos are added.

From oldest to newest ...

#1) Project ForkenSwift electric car conversion: 1st powerup
Added: Tue 26 Dec 2006

First power-up of the freshly installed forklift hydraulic pump motor in our beer budget, low speed, Geo Metro electric vehicle conversion.

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#2) Project Forkenswift electric car: 1st CONTROLLED powerup
Added: Mon 08 Jan 2007

Here's the Forkenswift's motor being spun up (and down, and up, and down) with a used golf cart controller. (Thanks to the EVDL folks for help with connecting the oddball Curtis.)

Apologies for the poor vid quality - this was shot with a 20 year-old camera.

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#3) Project ForkenSwift EV: first electric test drive
Added: Sun 01 Apr 2007

Officially, we're only at the battery rack building stage of the project. But while waiting to get a welder to finish the job, Spring Fever struck and against better judgment we piled 6 batteries into the car, hooked everything together and went up & down the street a bunch of times.

(Oh - and by the way, if you enjoy spotting continuity errors in movies, you'll have a field day with this one!)

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#4) Project ForkenSwift electric car conversion: it's legal!
Added: Fri 26 Oct 2007

Overdue (but waaaay under budget) the car is now registered as an EV and is legally on the road!

This video marks the occasion of its official transition to EV status, showing the car in action. Of course the it's not *completely* finished - there are still lots of small details to take care of. But we're having a blast driving the car - minus the threat of getting busted - while sorting them out.

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#5) Project ForkenSwift electric car: shifting gears
Added: Sat 15 Mar 2008

Since the car has no clutch, people often ask how I change gears. The purpose of this video is to show just that.

EV's with more power than the ForkenSwift don't need to shift much - some just leave the transmission in one gear for city driving, and only upshift for highway speeds.

The ForkenSwift needs to be shifted because it's a low voltage car with a low power controller.

So how is it done? With a firm hand and a little patience for upshifts, and by rev-matching the motor speed to the transmission speed when downshifting.

There's no need to use a clutch in an EV when stopping or starting out. An electric motor doesn't idle like a gas engine - it stops when the accelerator is released and the car stops.

At about 3:40 you see one potential "problem" of driving an quiet vehicle - a pedestrian steps off a curb - backwards! - into my path as I am slowly approaching. I don't think he would have backed up right into the car, but I tapped the horn to let him know I was there anyway. Disaster averted! (This has only happened to me once in 6 months.)

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#6) Project ForkenSwift electric car: LED battery gauge
Added: Wed 07 May 2008

One of the challenges of driving an EV with old or mismatched batteries is that you'll murder the weaker ones if you don't keep an eye on their state of charge. This "new to us" LED battery pack gauge will help to ensure we don't send any batteries to their graves ... uh, to the recycler ... prematurely.

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#7) Project ForkenSwift electric car: battery pack hot swap!
Added: Fri 15 Aug 2008

Just for fun...

Q: how long does it take to swap out the car's 8 batteries with a fresh set?

A: a lot less time than it takes to recharge them!

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