Rich’s EV Ford Ranger

For a while, my friend and mentor Rich has been working on converting a Ford Ranger pickup truck to battery-electric.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been around much whenever he’s working on it, so I don’t have as many photos and documentation on it as I would like.

The truck is converted to electric with an 11″ diameter series-wound forklift motor, connected to the transmission, and keeping the clutch.

The battery system is only 48V, but that keeps in line with the original voltage of the forklift, and makes use of more affordable motor controller and charger. The batteries are all under the bed, and the coolest feature is that it’s a tilt-bed! A hydraulic cylinder powers the bed right up when he needs to access the batteries.

Otherwise, it’s pretty much what you would expect an electric pickup truck to be – turn the key and drive!

I’ll add some more photos and videos of this project when I get a chance.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Johnny Pryor May 12, 2014 at 1:10 am

For a living, I’m the owner of a oversized load escort company out of Knoxville TN. Just recently, my Ford Ranger blew its engine and I was actually thinking of doing an electrical conversion. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the so called conversion kits as well as prices, range, amount of batteries. and so on. This idea would sound awesome and looks to be on the cheap side. My questions are: First of all, range. I drive anywhere as mush as 50-800 miles in a day. Is it possible or would I have to hook up some sort of generator system? Second: On the vacuum powered brakes., what was used on the supply to support the psi for the booster? Third: What type of batteries were used for his pack and how many of them were used?

2 Ben May 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

Hi Johhny,

“So-called” kits is about right. Every conversion is different, and there is no product out there that you simply “drop-in” to convert a gas vehicle to electric. It’s always going to be a bit of a project, even if you buy your motor, controller, and charger all from the same place.

Light trucks, such as Ford Rangers, Chevy S10s and older import trucks all make great conversions. The the gas tank and exhaust system removed, there’s plenty of space under the bed for batteries. Certainly an EV is NOT designed to go 800 miles per day. Even the Tesla Model S, possibly the greatest electric car ever made, is only designed to go 200-300 miles per charge. I did have some good results of experimentally running my Electro-Metro as a hybrid for a while. It was a good proof of concept, although the generator I was using was never able to run at full power.

I have another friend who built an electric pickup truck who HAS charged it from a generator in the bed, but that was while stopped. To create an extended-range EV (similar in concept to the Volt) you would need a generator powerful enough to continuously produce the amount of electric energy to power your truck down the road.

Another option would be to build some sort of a hybrid that mechanically gets power from an engine to the road as well as power from an electric motor. That’s my master plan for a truck project of mine.

Lastly, there are also folks who have built generator and pusher trailers, with the idea that you just hook it up to your electric vehicle to extend the range as needed for long trips.

Power brakes don’t work on a vehicle when the engine (the source of the vacuum) is removed. In its place, you just need a small 12V vacuum pump and reservoir. You can get those form any industrial supply house. Rig it up with a vacuum switch so that the pump comes on when you turn the car on and sucks all the air out of the vacuum reservoir. Then you have vacuum to power the brakes, and the pump only has to come out briefly after every few times that you pump the brakes.

On Rich’s Ford Ranger, he was using large flooded lead acid batteries. I don’t recall the exact number of batteries, but usually for trucks, you put in about as many as fit under the bed. 20-24 batteries is common, as that many 6 volt batteries gets you to a 120-144V system voltage.

Take a look at the “TRUCKS” category on the EV ALBUM to get a better sense of what other people have done.

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