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  • Writer's pictureProject Fig-Leaf

Automatically an issue?

Having decided to convert the Figaro to electric, I set out to research the topic and to learn more about past EV conversions. Several conversion blogs and vlogs exist on the topic. Lynne Mason's website: Electric Cars Are For Girls gives a lot of background information on the kinds of conversions that have taken place, the kits that are already available and the kinds of issues you are likely to face. The book Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman also gives a good overview on the step by step conversion process.

One of the biggest issues that seems to come up is the difficulty in converting cars with automatic gearboxes. Past attempts to convert the Figaro to electric like Garage Speed have involved simply replacing the engine with a motor connected directly to the Figaro's gearbox.

An automatic transmission is mapped to the torque of the engine it is converting torque for. This allows the car to shift gears fluidly while providing maximum power. If you replace the engine with an electric motor for instance, the gearbox can start to work against you unless the signals it receives are modified to work with the new motor. While this may sound simple enough, I kept coming back to the question of why we needed the automatic gearbox at all? Wouldn't it be simpler to use the Leaf's single speed reduction gearbox? It uses far fewer moving parts, it is designed to work with the Leaf motor and doesn't require any external signal to operate. This does present its own problems as the Leaf gearbox is not designed to fit with the Figaro's engine mounts and the output to the drive shafts would be different. This would mean that the car would need custom driveshafts.


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