Here’s some early information on a new product we’re offering.
Everyone at Rock West Racing is a motorhead at heart, but when we met Michel Bream and his team at EV West, their passion and enthusiasm for electric vehicles got us excited! They have engineered an exceptional package to convert a vehicle to electric power, and in our case, using a VW transmission coupled with available lithium ion batteries. That got us motivated to collaborate and build the RW Speedster Electric!
The objectives were simple: use our standard Speedster component kit, modify it to accept the EV West kit, and provide customers an efficient package. It had to have excellent performance, drive a range of up to 100 miles, be easy to build, and more importantly be a lot of fun to drive. Price is always an issue, so that was a design factor.
We believe we exceeded the objectives! And here is how it happened.
At the beginning we took an RW Speedster builder kit out of inventory, invited the EV West team for a visit, and discussed how to incorporate the battery form factor effectively for its size and mass. To meet the 100-mile range objective, we needed to locate the eight (8) 4”x 6”x 42” batteries in an area that was safe and wouldn’t adversely affect the function and performance of the car. Since the batteries weigh 350lbs, size wasn’t the only consideration.
We mocked up the batteries in rigid foam and test fit them around the car, floor, under the hood, and the engine bay, until we had the “aha ha” moment. We cut out the area behind the seats, but before the engine firewall, and determined we could get the eight batteries to fit nice and snug. They were mechanically secured with a Rock West Racing fabricated steel support structure tied into the chassis. This would provide a simple modification to the standard kit, thereby meeting our performance and cost objective.
Once the batteries were mounted securely, the rest of the components needed installation—motor, charger, converter, controller, chargeport, etc. There were relatively easy to position and install.
Next, we transported the RW Speedster Electric to EV West and collectively wired up the components. Doing it with the EV team in their shop was efficient, but can be easily done by a customer in their garage.
Clearly, adding batteries was a large component with its associated weight. But the other cool side of the equation is what was reduced. The gas tank was eliminated, so we relocated the charger and converter up front, including the 12-volt battery for the basics, like lights. This worked well, as it was important to locate some mass forward for balance, and it didn’t take up all the space so storage is available.
The electric motor is considerably smaller than an air-cooled Porsche or VW motor, and we took advantage of that space in the engine bay. The motor surround was modified to accommodate more storage – a real trunk! Additionally, we used the underside to mount the motor controller and fusebox, which makes for a tidy assembly.
Other cool components are the regeneration braking scheme inserted in the brake system, a fly-by-wire electric throttle pedal, and gauges that monitor everything.
For our first car, the color chosen was Porsche Conda Green, and our painter put a sprinkle of green to gold pearl in the clear coat. When overcast, it looks standard green, but in bright California sun, shades are required. We minimized the trim bright work and painted the bumpers to match. The interior is a mix of black vinyl and charcoal cloth inserts with light grey carpet.
This project has been a lot of fun! We are looking forward to getting this car on the road. Initially, the motorheads at Rock West Racing were a little skeptical, but once the RW Speedster Electric was running, we couldn’t keep them out of it!
To find out more about this new kit and all the features offered, take a look at our RW Speedster Electric webpage. Soon when we officially launch this product line, we’ll have a detailed data sheet with pricing for the RW Speedster Electric Component Kit, including information for the EV West conversion kit.