EVCONN 2011: Mike Picard's Electric Willys Jeep Conversion

 

Mike Picard’s cooler-than-yours electric car, based on a vintage Willys military Jeep, was present and accounted for at EVCCON 2011.  As you might recall from our original post covering Picard’s build, the NetGain WarP11 electric motor has way more horsepower (80) and torque (120 lb-ft) than its original gasoline engine (an even 60 hp and 60 lb-ft at 5250 rpm, for the curious), and that many of its parts were authentic, WWII-era iron.  It is, without question, a Jeep made of win.

Like many of the attendees, Picard did most of the work himself.  Although he started his conversion working with a local garage, it quickly became clear to him that they were “completely clueless”.  In his word, “They would look at what I brought in, and then Google it to see what other people had done.  They were copycat converters.”

Meeting up with Picard for the first time at EVCCON, I learned a little of this Jeep’s history and some of Mike’s plans for its future.  The NetGain WarP11 motor currently residing in the Willys, for example, is the second that has been installed in the vehicle.  The first WarP11 snapped the output shaft after an imperfect installation (courtesy of that “completely clueless” garage), and Picard figured he could do a better job … which he did.

Picard also added a number of safety features to the Jeep, including a high-voltage/amperage circuit breaker, in-line fuses, and a modified contact circuit to prevent over-revving of the powerful motor.  “The rpm sensing switch activates different colored lights at different engine speeds.  At 4800 rpm (just below NetGain’s prescribed “redline”) it turns on a red light and locks out the contact.”

Like most of the vehicles at the Cape Girardeau event, Picard’s Willys is a reliable driver.  So reliable, in fact, that Picard plans on taking it up to Alaska as part a convoy of military vehicles next year.  Since it has a range of about 30 miles on its 18 “conventional” lead-acid batteries (as opposed to the more advanced li-ion type), and takes a few hours to charge, the Willys will need to continually recharge on the road.  Mike plans to build range-extending generator into a towable trailer, and let the Willys pull its own high-voltage charger as a “disconnect hybrid“.  By Picard’s math, the Jeep should hum along at about 20-22 mpg during the trip.

Here’s hoping, then, that Mike sends us good pictures!

Source:  EVCONN 2011.

 

Charis Michelsen

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.