Monday, August 31, 2009

Auburn NY Newspaper features the BugE!

This was the color photo that went with the newspaper article. One major change from the plans is that big ole headlight that New York State insisted upon. I also replaced the Eurosport mirrors with larger pickup truck mirrors that work much better. Because the turn signals are not built into the new mirrors, I have added some K&S DOT approved blinkers for the front. The tail light and rear turn signals have been upgraded with lights that have clearly marked DOT markings on it.

I went through the receipts so the inspection people have something to base sales tax on. The major component cost came in at $7200. The kit can be built for less. However, my vehicle has some optional features that drove up the price. For example, I added more wiring for reverse, a Powercheq battery management system, a dc-dc converter with more capacity and a seat slider. This amount doesn't include all the fiddly bits such as nuts, bolts, connectors, paint, tools and materials I used from previous projects. It also does not include the special journeys to the store I made when I was short a bolt or two. The true cost also includes upgraded parts not used, excess materials not used, some new tools plus a nice tool chest to keep them in, garage floor refinishing materials, painting supplies, respirator cartridges, small shop vac and even a trailer hitch installed on my OTHER car so I can haul the BugE around! Plus, it also includes a cycle shelter to keep it in. This much larger total came to around $12k. However, these things are not "in" the car. So, when people ask, how much did it cost for my little adventure (or rather how much would a new BugE really cost for them) it depends. Of course, my labor isn't counted in this total either. But hey, it's my first attempt at putting together an electric vehicle. Given how much a custom motorcycle can cost I think I did quite well!

I've also saved up enough money to go the next step which is to register and insure it. So, I've filled out the paperwork to get a VIN.

The packet came with a form that explained what I needed to do. I needed to send some paperwork to Technical Services and a multi-copy form (with a check) to the field investigation department.

Obviously, NY-DOT hasn't inspected very many electric motorcycles. Some fields such as "fuel type" could be filled in by "electric" and it makes sense. However, other fields such as "displacement" are rather tricky. So, I just put in 150CC and then a side note that it was just a guess on equivalent power. I also had to loosen the motor clamp to read the motor serial number. I found out I have number 701. The weight field I left blank since I was informed by my caseworker that I could provide the weight upon registration rather than make a special trip to a NYS approved weighing station just to fill in the blank. So, I gave an approximate weight of 400lbs with batteries just in case they need a ballpark figure for some reason. Along with the form, I need to send copies of receipts for "major components". So, the packet I sent off was quite large at that point.

Now, it's time to wait. Since the request is being shared between two state offices, I'm expecting quite a long wait. I just hope I can get the vehicle registered before December 31st so I can qualify for the Federal tax break. Given that it's September, and it's New York State, I'm thinking I'm cutting this awfully close!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Retrofit - driven by New York State

My busy summer has slowed down enough so I finally had some time to work on the BugE! The retrofit to comply with NYS-DOT requirements is now done. I also did some other improvements as well.
  • Abandoned idea of 3-way braking. Locking the rear wheel is just too big a risk. If the rear wheel were to lock with uneven front wheel braking, it's almost a guaranteed spin & flip. Keeping the rear wheel freewheeling will mean the vehicle takes longer to stop but would tend to stay straight on a roadway surface rather than flipping if braking action locked up wheels. I may extend braking arms on the front wheels for more brake leverage.
  • Replaced Eurosport mirrors with Izuzu pickup truck mirrors. They are much better! (and since they are surplus OEM parts, by their nature they are also DOT compliant).
  • Made a new wiring harness to provide two additional switched DC circuits (one I'll be using to power Navigator lights which are now accessory lights rather than primary headlights the other is there for future use). Wire runs are shorter, color coded and MUCH easier to troubleshoot.
  • Made transparent dashboard in arch area with three accessory switches (fan, nav lights & extra switch) plus room for a car radio faceplate. One nice benefit is that a clear dashboard makes behind-the-dash wiring changes very easy to do.
  • Recording the wiring harness measurements in case I want to offer a harness kit.
  • For now, mounting the retro 48v meter behind transparent dash where the radio would go. Eventually, I may go digital with the power meter so I've mounted it so it can be easily swapped out for something nicer looking.
The next step is the worst. I apply for a homebuilt vehicle inspection appointment. Then THEY pick out a time for it to happen. Then I frantically trailer the BugE to the nearest inspection location (For me, it's a 45 minute drive to Syracuse) Then of course, even with my pre-inspection questioning, they may still find something wrong with it!

Before starting this paperwork process, I gotta save up to pay New York State sales tax on my own vehicle! Plus I need to save up for trailer rental, insurance, registration, inspection and weighing station fees. Then, I need to work on a nice looking purchase portfolio so I can show where all the components went on the vehicle so the cops don't think I made it out of stolen parts. The more I claim went into the vehicle, the greater the money New York State gets. This amount is also what the federal electric vehicle tax credit will be based on too. So, in a twist of events, the more New York State takes, the more I could get back from the Federal government!

With the help of an independent insurance agent, I did at least find an insurer for the vehicle (liability only). It was insured for a day. However, I've kept the expired insurance card in case there is any question from the DOT that the vehicle could be insured.