1991 Suzuki Swift GT Electric Vehicle

My EV Story


In the spring of 2008 I came across project Forkenswift.  From that moment on, I knew I wanted to cut my dependence from oil.  I had recently seen Who Killed The Electric Car.  After seeing that movie, I felt betrayed by GM for withholding some of the best technologies that were fleshed out as a result of the Saturn EV1 project.  To date, I have not seen numbers that are any lower for the coefficient of drag for a typical production automobile.

I consider myself to be a fairly environmentally aware individual.  I ride my bike to work in the summer pretty much rain or shine.  I'll take city transit in a major downpour and in the winter. For shorter trips, I will typically walk.  I don't use a gasoline lawnmower or trimmer and I have an electric chainsaw.

In June of 2008, I bought a 1991 Suzuki Swift GT off of Kijiji.  My brother and I immediately began stripping it down.  Some of the compelling reasons that drew me to the Swift platform were:
My basic plan is:
Here are some of the pictures I have to date:

I did a bunch of stuff on it in March 2010.  I pulled the radiator mount, replaced all the front end body damage with new bodywork from a Cultus 1.6L.  I also pulled out the air intake which is no longer required and the fog light wiring.  The ECM and the engine harness has been removed as well.

I have now ordered some Bridgestone RE92's from tiretrends.com and they should show up next week.  I couldn't get the Nokians in North America for the size I needed.  I have new rear hubs with wheel bearings, new front cv axles, and front and rear bushing kit for ssgti.com.  I still need to order front wheel bearings but the new brembo rotors have shown up for all corners and I have new composite/ceramic pads for all four corners - front are EBC and rears are APEX.  I also have new braided stainless steel brake lines for all four corners.

I just got confirmation that my payment has been received by Wilderness Electric Vehicles and that my kit will ship next week.  The clutch disc I sent to make the compler for the electric motor is complete!  I should receive my kit about a week after that.

So I have my kit from Utah now with the motor and all the goodies, my yellow top truck batteries, and I've replaced the rotors all the way around with brembo's and ceramic brake pads.  I also put in new stainless steel braided brake lines and new wheel bearing hub assemblies.  I still have new cv axles to put in along with the transmission and then I can bolt in the transmission.  I still plan to remove the radio, antenna, and clutch disc pedal.  Some of the stuff I've already removed: engine electrical harness, engine computer, air intake resonator in the fender, radiator mounts and extra front sheet metal, fog light harnesses, fuel lines, fuel tank and filler neck, exhaust system, radiator and cooling system, stock battery bracket - to be replaced by 30A dc/dc converter, and passenger side mirror.  I have the bellhousing mount for the electric motor already machined to match up to the transmission.  I also have an electric golf cart quartz (more efficient than ceramic) heater that runs at 48V which I will use for heat and hopefully will fit in the stock heater box.

I've had a really slow start on this because of breaking my thumb two years ago and then spraining it last summer.  However, this has given me additional time to assess ways to make the entire car more efficient.  I will definitely be fabricating a belly pan for this car and the transmission fluid I will use is AMSOIL low viscosity ATF even though this is a manual (temps won't get that high just in the city).  I will also pursue the possibility of removing the side view mirrors and replacing with digital cameras from the inside.  I got the idea from this article.

I will definitely also fabricate a front grille block by buying a bra and then taping off what I don't need for fresh air and then sliding black vinyl fabric overtop which worked really well for my Malibu in testing.  I also plan to cut some custom pieces of clear plastic to cover the frenched front signal lights to smooth air flow on the front bumper.

Got a bunch of work done May 5, 2011.  Put in the engine and the transmission.  Mounted the Bridgestone RE92 Potenza's on the Mazda RX7 rims.  Got the new cv axles in and got the brakes bled and working well along with the park brake.

I had to shave the original middle transmission mount because a piece went out to tie to the gas engine.  I also removed an exhaust hanger that was behind the middle transmission mount.  I need to figure out how to tie the end of the electric motor to the original engine mount on the passenger fender well.  I hooked up the transmission shift linkage and the speedometer cable.  With the ceramic brakes my wife didn't mention anything about hard braking effort so I'm pretty sure I can skip having an electric vacuum pump to run the brake booster.  I am really impressed with how the sidewall doesn't bulge out on the RE92 tires on the RX7 rims.  I'm betting the rolling resistance of the wheel assembly is much improved.  I still have to take out the heater core for weight reduction.

I have also been experimenting with aerodynamics on my 2005 Malibu LS which I have some threads on other forums:
Aerodynamics Thread