Interestingly enough my wife and I owned a 1982 Diesel Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It had over 250,000 miles on it when we finally sold it. The injector pump was replaced once and it was leaking again when we sold it. The GM 350 Diesel had problems for the first couple of years, but by 1982 they were almost completely ironed out. By that time however the damage to its reputation was done. I believe it was discontinued in 1983 or 1984.
Our Cutlass was the most fuel efficient vehicle that I have ever owned. It literally got around 40mpg on the freeway. It wasn't a super zippy car, but we took it over the mountains many times. It had no problem climbing hills or even passing at high speed. The only thing it didn't do well was taking off from a stop. With our mix of driving we typically got over 30mpg. If I found another in good shape I would buy it.
Getting back to the subject at hand: I am a tinkerer... a couple of years ago I put together an electric bicycle using a 750w 36v hub motor. It topped out at approximately 25mph and had approximately 20 miles of range which could be extended if one pedaled while riding. The only time that the motor was atually using 750w was when you were starting out, climbing a hill, or going into a head wind.
There were no brushes or gearing in the motor I used. It is essentially silent. The speed control worked by creating a rotating magnetic field within the hub. There were approximately 36 small coils and a corresponding number of rare earth permanent magnets embedded in the outer rotating part of the hub. There is not a great deal of torque developed, but it would be possible to get a higher top speed by modifying the control circuit.
More expensive controllers are programmable and have regenerative circuitry... the hub will act as a dynamo when braking or going down a hill. Many home made windmills use the same type of hub motor to generate power.
I used three 12v 18ah Sealed Lead Acid Batteries which cost around $.15 to charge here in Washington. I used the bike for a few months after completing it and decided on some modifications that I would make for the next project and sold it. Basically I would like to someday assemble another one with a lower center of gravity and more power. The electric bikes that you can buy which are "street legal" only can do around 15mph under their own power and have almost no hill climbing ability. My next one will do at least 30mph and have enough torque to power over a steep hill.
The problem with electric cars is that they weigh many times more that me and my bicycle and need many times as much power and many times as much storage capacity. The 2011 Nissan Leaf is rated at 34kwh / 100 miles. If the charger was 100% efficient that would be $3.40 here in Washington.
I am very skeptical of the claimed efficiency. I would bet that the actual power usage is closer to $5.00 even here in WAshington. My guess is that my electric bike was costing me around $.75 to go 100 miles. In some parts of the country electric power costs multiple time more. So if you live in Hawaii and you are getting charged $.25 a kwh I will bet that it would cost approximately $12.50 to drive 100 miles. If you were paying $4.00 a gallon for gas and your Prius was getting its rated 50mpg it would only cost you $8 to go the same distance.
Interesting project you have. I am also in Washington State, have a commercial Italian motor scooter using four 12v 38ah SLA (actually AGM) batteries, with an 1,850 watt brushless motor. Interestingly, three of the four batteries are originals from 2001; actually none ever failed as the fourth was removed to replace a battery in another scooter. I desulphate them regularly and attribute their longevity in part, to that. The German speed controller does have regenerative circuitry.
We are spoiled here in Washington... at certain times of the year and certain times of the day in California electricity is costing over 5 times as much... up to $.55 per kwh. That literally could cost you about $30 to drive your little Leaf 100 miles... that would be like filling your Prius up with gas that cost almost $15 per gallon. There is a reason the Japanese are giving up on Electric cars.
The step down V-8 Engine (8-6-4) really got and deserved a bad rap. My Father was a Mechanic back then, and he wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. The idea was fine, but the technology just wasn’t there at the time.
As I understood it, the type of converted Diesel you owned started out without any real modifications to strengthen the bottom end, crank/rods/bearings, and that is why they got the bad rap. They literally tore themselves apart. I will assume that either you were very lucky, or the engine you had was much improved over the first variant.
GM unfortunately had a reputation for pulling products just when they started to get them right, the Cadillac Allante with the Northstar Engine and the V-6 Pontiac Fiero Slant Back GT come to mind.
The Fiero was a plastic car with replaceable body panels designed over thirty years ago, while Mercedes uses the same Technology on their Smart Car today. I guess timing is everything.
BTW - Sounds like your engineering skills are top notch. I’m one of those people who starts a project that ends up taking three times longer than I figured it would while getting half the results I had hoped for. I tip my hat to you my FRiend.
At my age I might need one of those electric bikes sooner than later, or a Hoveround to “take me where I want to go”... LOL