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I don't think there was any way for profitable legacy makers to make EVs a success...any more than Kodak would have promoted their digital camera. I think any real competition for Tesla will come from China. Maybe it is already happening.

Yes, there's an element of that. Established automakers were already raking in high profit margins using their existing production and product lineup. Perhaps that's motivation for not acknowledging how simple it would have been to replicate Tesla's efforts.

I'm sifting through my Ford Ranger Electrics right now, and it's both interesting and a bit discouraging to see that, for nearly 20 years, Ford made little to no progress in the EV realm despite the technology being available for most of that time. To be specific, with no other changes to their 20+ year old Ford Ranger Electric platform, the addition of lithium batteries from 10+ years ago and an upgraded charging socket would result in a compact truck with over 200 miles of range and 100 kW charging speeds. That's 20+ year old technology.
 

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I'm sifting through my Ford Ranger Electrics right now, and it's both interesting and a bit discouraging to see that, for nearly 20 years, Ford made little to no progress in the EV realm despite the technology being available for most of that time. To be specific, with no other changes to their 20+ year old Ford Ranger Electric platform, the addition of lithium batteries from 10+ years ago and an upgraded charging socket would result in a compact truck with over 200 miles of range and 100 kW charging speeds. That's 20+ year old technology.
I imagine you know about Ben Nelson's Valence LiFePO4 powered Ranger EV? Any modern nickel cobalt cells would double the capacity for the same size, and weight.

 

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I imagine you know about Ben Nelson's Valence LiFePO4 powered Ranger EV?

Yup. I watched a few of his videos. He was able to get 138 Ah Valence batteries out of an old Smith truck. According to Ben, the batteries are down to only ~80% capacity, but I'm not sure that's right. Based on what I've seen of the Ranger's charge control module, I'm not sure it's able to get the most out of 12 V LiFePO4 batteries, even as drop-in replacements for the NiMH cells.

So maybe only half of the capacity loss Ben is seeing is due to actual degradation, and the rest is likely due to the Ranger's onboard charger not being able to fully charge and balance the batteries. That's just a suspicion, though. Ben doesn't go too deep into technical details on his channel, so it's really hard to tell as a casual observer. Perhaps he did capacity test each battery individually, but I don't recall seeing him do that.
 

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Yup. I watched a few of his videos. He was able to get 138 Ah Valence batteries out of an old Smith truck. According to Ben, the batteries are down to only ~80% capacity, but I'm not sure that's right. Based on what I've seen of the Ranger's charge control module, I'm not sure it's able to get the most out of 12 V LiFePO4 batteries, even as drop-in replacements for the NiMH cells.

So maybe only half of the capacity loss Ben is seeing is due to actual degradation, and the rest is likely due to the Ranger's onboard charger not being able to fully charge and balance the batteries. That's just a suspicion, though. Ben doesn't go too deep into technical details on his channel, so it's really hard to tell as a casual observer. Perhaps he did capacity test each battery individually, but I don't recall seeing him do that.
Ben's Ranger was an early lead acid version, so the charging system should be plug and play for the Valence batteries. The batteries are rated at 12.8 nominal volts x 138 Ah = 1766 watt hours. He is running 26 batteries, so at best he would have 45.9 kWh available. These trucks are over 4,000 pounds and average 400-500 Wh/mile. He got 100 miles on his first range test, so I'd say his pack is in very good shape!
 

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Ben's Ranger was an early lead acid version, so the charging system should be plug and play for the Valence batteries. The batteries are rated at 12.8 nominal volts x 138 Ah = 1766 watt hours. He is running 26 batteries, so at best he would have 45.9 kWh available. These trucks are over 4,000 pounds and average 400-500 Wh/mile. He got 100 miles on his first range test, so I'd say his pack is in very good shape!
Unfortunately, it's not plug-and-play. The Ranger Electric's PbA batteries were 8 V batteries in 39S. He had to hack the system to get it to run 12 V drop-in replacements in 26S. To set it up, you have to create a resistor board to spoof the battery control module. Regardless, if I remember correctly, Ben stated that he only had about 39 kWh usable (about 15% degradation).

For what it's worth, the LiFePO4 12 V drop-in replacements are directly compatible with the NiMH Rangers, which ran a 12 V battery in 25S configuration. Basically, as long as you find a format that fits and get batteries that can be linked in series (only Battleborn and Valence, as far as I know), you can literally just drop them into the battery box, link them up, and run the same control module leads. The big issue is, doing that is just too expensive for what you get.
 

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Unfortunately, it's not plug-and-play. The Ranger Electric's PbA batteries were 8 V batteries in 39S. He had to hack the system to get it to run 12 V drop-in replacements in 26S. To set it up, you have to create a resistor board to spoof the battery control module. Regardless, if I remember correctly, Ben stated that he only had about 39 kWh usable (about 15% degradation).

For what it's worth, the LiFePO4 12 V drop-in replacements are directly compatible with the NiMH Rangers, which ran a 12 V battery in 25S configuration. Basically, as long as you find a format that fits and get batteries that can be linked in series (only Battleborn and Valence, as far as I know), you can literally just drop them into the battery box, link them up, and run the same control module leads. The big issue is, doing that is just too expensive for what you get.
I will give you my two cents. For simple, and cheap, you won't beat used Nissan Leaf modules. Granted, they degrade pretty badly, but they are as simple as Legos. Strap them up in parallel and balance the lot of them at 8.2 volts (modules are 2s2p). Run enough in series to not exceed 4.1 per cell with the factory charger, and you don't even need a BMS. I put 29K miles and 447 full cycles on my seven module pack in my electric bike in the three years I have ridden it. It would be well over that, if not for self lockdown since early March. The pack sat at 57.7 volts when I stopped riding over three months ago, after pulling 15Ah out on a 40.8 mile ride. It is reading 55.5 volts right now. I hit 1C on most take offs, and most stops, as regen provides 99% of my braking.

My retired engineer buddy uses his golf cart with the same setup as my bike as a garden tractor/ATV on their place most days, and it is still going strong at 1 1/2 years.

There are probably over one hundred vehicles of every type with them on EV Album.
 

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I will give you my two cents. For simple, and cheap, you won't beat used Nissan Leaf modules. Granted, they degrade pretty badly, but they are as simple as Legos. Strap them up in parallel and balance the lot of them at 8.2 volts (modules are 2s2p). Run enough in series to not exceed 4.1 per cell with the factory charger, and you don't even need a BMS. I put 29K miles and 447 full cycles on my seven module pack in my electric bike in the three years I have ridden it. It would be well over that, if not for self lockdown since early March. The pack sat at 57.7 volts when I stopped riding over three months ago, after pulling 15Ah out on a 40.8 mile ride. It is reading 55.5 volts right now. I hit 1C on most take offs, and most stops, as regen provides 99% of my braking.

My retired engineer buddy uses his golf cart with the same setup as my bike as a garden tractor/ATV on their place most days, and it is still going strong at 1 1/2 years.

There are probably over one hundred vehicles of every type with them on EV Album.
Yes, they are top on my list for consideration, but finding matched cells with >70% capacity is nearly impossible. Unless I can get nearly new Nissan LEAF cells, I'm not going to invest too much into them. Right now, my tentative plan is to put together a "proving" battery with LEAF modules in 42S, giving me a nominal voltage of 310 at about 40 Ah. That will only give me a usable capacity of a little over 12 kWh, or enough to drive about 30 miles.

Ultimately, my goal is to bring these up to my minimum criteria for usability, which is 150 miles of fair weather range and a DC fast charging option. My preference is to install CCS, but the CHAdeMO options are far easier. The biggest struggle will to be how closely I can keep these to stock. At a certain point, it would be cheaper (and ironically, better) to convert an ICE Ford Ranger to electric than it would be to get these where I want them to be.
 

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The world is really pretty small.
When you're looking for used EV batteries, apparently it is. :-D

I still don't know if I would go with them. I'm going to contact them to find out what assurances they can give regarding the capacities of the modules they ship. Others either guarantee a certain capacity or at least guarantee that all the modules came out of the same pack.
 

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When you're looking for used EV batteries, apparently it is. :-D

I still don't know if I would go with them. I'm going to contact them to find out what assurances they can give regarding the capacities of the modules they ship. Others either guarantee a certain capacity or at least guarantee that all the modules came out of the same pack.
Did you watch those videos? These guys are as professional as you are going to find in the DIY business. The guys I got mine from were the best of the best five years ago. They are gone now. They tested all their modules, and even gave my the graphs. Didn't matter. They weren't as high capacity as their test. They offered to take them back no questions. It wasn't worth the bother. They were, and still are, higher capacity per pound than LiFePO4, and a fraction of the cost of anything new. The way to go, if you can do it, is to buy a late model, low mileage wreck at salvage. It depends on your temperament, but folks like these guys pretty much vacuum everything up, and have salvage yards on speed dial. :)
 

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When you're looking for used EV batteries, apparently it is. :-D
I will give you an example of how small the EV world is. A guy I used to chat with about recumbent bikes, when we had newsletters, went on to build and sell electric bike drive kits, and now has his own Tesla accessory business. I know perhaps a half dozen folks I have crossed paths with over these same interests over decades.


 

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Did you watch those videos? These guys are as professional as you are going to find in the DIY business. The guys I got mine from were the best of the best five years ago. They are gone now. They tested all their modules, and even gave my the graphs. Didn't matter. They weren't as high capacity as their test. They offered to take them back no questions. It wasn't worth the bother. They were, and still are, higher capacity per pound than LiFePO4, and a fraction of the cost of anything new. The way to go, if you can do it, is to buy a late model, low mileage wreck at salvage. It depends on your temperament, but folks like these guys pretty much vacuum everything up, and have salvage yards on speed dial. :)
I was watching a recent Rich rebuilds video about a Lambo and there was a quick screen shot showing a database of salvaged EV's which was his thing. If I remember, there were a handful of Bolts but what looked like hundreds of Leafs. Before my Leaf was totaled, I had thought about using the half capacity at life's end battery for a backup/storage if I ever did solar. Still a better value than a powerwall but unfortunately, not the right chemistry for storage cycling.
 

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Did you watch those videos? These guys are as professional as you are going to find in the DIY business. The guys I got mine from were the best of the best five years ago. They are gone now. They tested all their modules, and even gave my the graphs. Didn't matter. They weren't as high capacity as their test. They offered to take them back no questions. It wasn't worth the bother. They were, and still are, higher capacity per pound than LiFePO4, and a fraction of the cost of anything new. The way to go, if you can do it, is to buy a late model, low mileage wreck at salvage. It depends on your temperament, but folks like these guys pretty much vacuum everything up, and have salvage yards on speed dial. :)
Yes, I did. They said all the right things, but the question is, do I buy LEAF cells at $40 a piece that are certified at 40 Ah capacity or Big Battery's LEAF cells at $75 a piece that they simply state are rated at 52 Ah.
 

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Yes, I did. They said all the right things, but the question is, do I buy LEAF cells at $40 a piece that are certified at 40 Ah capacity or Big Battery's LEAF cells at $75 a piece that they simply state are rated at 52 Ah.
I was told that my 2015, low mileage modules were 56 Ah down to 6.4 volts, 3.2 volts per cell. I got 53 Ah out of them at first. This has gradually dropped to 44 Ah so far. I wouldn't buy any for a vehicle with only 40 Ah. For solar backup...sure.
 

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I was told that my 2015, low mileage modules were 56 Ah down to 6.4 volts, 3.2 volts per cell. I got 53 Ah out of them at first. This has gradually dropped to 44 Ah so far. I wouldn't buy any for a vehicle with only 40 Ah. For solar backup...sure.
As I said, this would be a cheap "proving" battery. I wouldn't expect to get more than 30 miles of range out of them, but I do want to validate the rest of the systems before spending what is likely to be $10,000 to $15,000 on batteries for each truck. I would then reconstruct the battery for solar energy storage later.

With LEAF modules, they are packaged better at an individual level, but it seems like they would be difficult to sync with a BMS running three to four modules parallel, which is what I'd need with 52 Ah cells to get the range I'd be expecting.
 

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With LEAF modules, they are packaged better at an individual level, but it seems like they would be difficult to sync with a BMS running three to four modules parallel, which is what I'd need with 52 Ah cells to get the range I'd be expecting.
I don't see a problem. You stack 4 modules next to each other. You run a bus bar across all the plus posts, another across the negative posts and a third across the center taps. You now have one brick at 16.4 volts, and 208 Ah. Balance leads go to the three bus bars just as they would go to the three terminals on a single module. The BMS, and the power electronics don't care if you have one module, or a hundred strapped in parallel. It doesn't know the difference between one huge module, or a bunch of smaller ones. The thin aluminum covers, and plastic film, separating the electrodes in that "module" are invisible to the system.

Your 42, 208 Ah modules will take four times as long to balance, as your test string of 42, 52 Ah modules. You should size the BMS for your 208 Ah pack. It will have bigger bleed resistors for balancing, as well as higher current limits.
 

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I don't see a problem. You stack 4 modules next to each other. You run a bus bar across all the plus posts, another across the negative posts and a third across the center taps. You now have one brick at 16.4 volts, and 208 Ah. Balance leads go to the three bus bars just as they would go to the three terminals on a single module. The BMS, and the power electronics don't care if you have one module, or a hundred strapped in parallel. It doesn't know the difference between one huge module, or a bunch of smaller ones. The thin aluminum covers, and plastic film, separating the electrodes in that "module" are invisible to the system.
Nice. That's good. I was worried I was going to have to do something special because of the LEAF module configuration.
 

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I am gonna tell you from my personal experience (I charge my Bolt EV to the SOC that allows me to do the full round trip commute):
  • If I need to go only 60-100 miles round trip per day, I charge it to 80%.
  • If I need to do go 180 miles or more round trip, I charge it to 100%.
It is good to charge from time to time to 100% even if you don’t need so that the cell balancing occurs. Yes, I know people will say that it occurs at any SOC but...
Always, when I charge at 100%, I try to finish the charge the moment I am ready to go for the trip. This way, the battery doesn’t stay fully charged for a long time.
 
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