Audio/Video, Hardware

1933 Ford Hot Rod goes Electric


Last week at SEMA 2009 [Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association] in Las Vegas, an amazing new Hot Rod was introduced. The iconic American Hot Rod is a chopped and channeled 1933 Ford Coupe. They are built with or without fenders and with every conceivable size of gasoline or diesel engine.

At SEMA 2009, AMP=D changed every hot rodders’ perception of performance and innovation. AMP=D introduced their all-electric powered ’33 Hot Rod. With 300+ hp [horse power] and over 660 foot pounds of torque in a 2400 pound car, it will stay with the best of the gasoline-powered Hot Rods.

AMP=D's take on hot rods with 1933 Ford Coupe
AMP=D’s take on hot rods with 1933 Ford Coupe

AMP=D’s microprocessor-controlled, electric drive system can deliver 0-60 acceleration in an estimated 3 seconds with a range of 100+ miles.

The battery electric vehicle [EV] is powered by UQM Technologies PowerPhase 150kW motor [PDF spec download] > amped up to 225kW and "fueled" by innovative Lithium Nanophosphate batteries from A123 Systems.

AMP=D’s Kyle Lawson said "the partnership between Factory Five Racing, SolidWorks, and AMP=D signifies the dawn of a new era in Hot Rodding, whereby timeless style meets the most sophisticated technology for unparalleled performance in a zero-emission package. The AMP=D Hot Rod takes Factory Five Racing ‘s notion of the ’33 Ford Hot Rod as a daily driver, and advances it toward an energy independent future."

Structural frame was designed in SolidWorks suite, on HP hardware
The frame that strengthens the structure of 1933 Ford Coupe…

The ’33 Ford Coupe and its electric drive system were designed and assembled by the team of experts at AMP=D, a solar-powered vehicle lab based at the 707customs facility in Sonoma County, California, and headed by Mike North and Lawson. Factory Five Racing is the manufacturer of the chassis and body. The folks at SolidWorks and Hewlett Packard provided the specialized CAD/CAE [computer-aided design, computer-aided engineering] experience for the project.

That 100 miles doesn’t seem like a very long range. However, the average Hot Rod is a show car, a piece of mobile sculpture to be seen riding in, not for long-distance drives to another state. The average American car is driven 39.4 miles per day, and over half of our 205 million drivers actually drive less than 20 miles per day.

Hot Rod Magazine’s November issue features building the Factory Five Racing ’33 Ford Coupe with a Ford Racing 347 cubic inch engine. We can’t wait for side-by-side testing of these two Hot Rods.

For comparison, the 2009 Ruf electric Porsche 977 prototype weighs 1910 kg [4210.8 pounds] and uses a 150kW [204 hp], 660 Nm [479 ft/lbs] of torque, 150kW UQM motor to accelerate from 0-100kph in seven seconds. Thus, AMP=D’s claim of three seconds to go 0-60mph for their electric-powered ’33 Hot Rod, are not out of the question. Ruf is planning a small production run of this car, which will sell for about $250,000.

UQM Technologies PowerPhase 150kW getting ready to be installed inside the hot rod
UQM Technologies PowerPhase 150kW getting ready to be installed inside the hot rod

AMP=D’s Lawson said that the first scheduled motor maintenance for their electric ’33 Hot Rod is at 2.5 million miles. He said the battery pack has a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, depending on the number of cycles. Lawson said "with this kind of longevity, we are not only trailblazing a new Hot Rod movement for the 21st century, we are hand-crafting heirlooms to be enjoyed by generations to come."

Let’s stop to define some automotive terminology. Horsepower is defined as the amount of energy required to lift 550 pounds, one foot, in one second. Torque is stated as pound-feet and represents how much twisting force is at work. Torque is what gets your car rolling.

The latest design of a gasoline engine uses around 75 percent of the energy in its tank to heat the engine coolant and exhaust gas and only 25 to 30 percent for actual propulsion. A diesel manages a respectable 35 to 40 percent converting its fuel energy into motion.

A permanent magnet electric motor is highly efficiency because it offers over 80 percent efficiency over the majority of its power range, extending 90 percent in the upper end of its power range – see page 3 of the UMQ 150kW motor’s specifications.

The zero RPM with maximum torque is what makes an electric motor so intriguing for an automobile. If you are creeping along at less than 15 mph in traffic on the freeway, would you rather have 300 to 400ft/lb of torque instantly available, or less than half that torque from a gasoline engine to do a quick lane change?

The interior of this hot rod reveals the backside of the electric motor and the power axle.
The interior of this hot rod reveals the backside of the electric motor and the power transmission.

Another big factor is daily cost of "fuel", which is about 2 cents per mile for electricity compared to about 10 cents per mile for gasoline. For a 50 mile round trip drive to work, then the grocery store, and back home, it will cost you about one dollar for a battery-electric motor powered car versus five dollars for a gasoline-powered one.

An alternate approach to saving fuel is converting existing cars to electric power. Last year, at the Plug-in Hybrid vehicle conference in San Jose, California, Andy Grove [co-founder and former CEO of Intel] gave a speech strongly recommending converting 10 million existing vehicles to electric power.

Peter Oliver is the owner of Make Mine Electric in Sebastopol, California, a company that creates classic replica cars to run on electric motors. Oliver’s company has two models of electric-powered replicas ready to ship to customers. Make Mine Electric is a licensed auto repair shop that will convert your vehicle to electric power. They also offer how-to classes to help you convert your own car.

An advanced auto hobbyist in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Jack Rickard, is on his second electric car conversion. His EVTV website has a must see, step-by-step, video of how he converted his 1957 Porsche 356 replica from a high-performance VW-engine to battery and electric motor power. His electric 356 Porsche replica just went on sale at eBay. A sale will provide funding to continue his next project: converting a 2009 Mini Clubman to electric power.

Rickard spent a lot of time talking with us. He said that people need to adapt to the concept that they don’t need a 400 mile range. Rickard reemphasized that the average American car is driven 39.4 miles per day, and over half of America’s 205 million drivers actually drive less than 20 miles per day. Rickard says that Americans have to think in terms of a local-use vehicle and a distance-use vehicle. Since nearly everybody in California has two vehicles, if not three or four, getting to work, around town, and home for a dollar a day is way better than five to seven dollars a day.

Rickard said that the biggest advantage of an electric power car is your tank is full every morning. He thinks that the average car should run on electricity because we already have it in our homes. The electric grid is set to produce exactly the amount of electricity required on July 24th of each year at 3:00 PM in the afternoon. All other times the grid is working at less than capacity and hideously so at night, when we’re sleeping and his car is charging. The national average for electricity is 11 cents per kilowatt hour. This is what the so-called smart grid is all about. Pricing based on time of day usage. A smart grid will be possible when the electric devices are more intelligent and have microprocessor controls built in that talk through a network to the ?smart grid?.

We asked Lawson at AMP=D about replicating their electric ’33 Hot Rod. Lawson said their first vehicle represents nearly a $250,000 expenditure. He said ?we won’t be offering kits for the do-it-yourselfer at the moment, because the high-performance components we use in these builds need to be handled by our staff of experienced, vetted engineers and technicians. AMP=D will tune the vehicle for maximum performance as well as safety, and educate the client on proper use and maintenance.?

Hosts at SpeedTV cover the unveil of AMP=D hot rod
AMP=D has videoed the electric ’33 Hot Rod’s construction.

The next phase for the electric ’33 Hot Rod is going to Infineon Raceway for performance testing which will also be videoed. AMP=D will launch a streaming video site within the next several months. Its focus will be on unique green solutions to everyday living.

There are literally thousands of electric-powered vehicles on the world’s roads. Some of them are not much more than a glorified golf cart using lead acid batteries. There are leading edge vehicles like AMP=D’s ’33 Hot Rod. And which one would you like to have, and be seen in?

  • Russ Binder

    Did this go into production? How many units sold?