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✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Project blog translations, part 7.

At first, a humble apology for the month-and-a-half that has passed between these translations. Some of the information was on Henkka's blog but as the EVS24 in Stavanger is coming up, here are translated snippets from the Finnish project blogs.

April 5th

Lots of people have been visiting the eGarage and "signing in" the project.

Also representatives from different companies have been contacting us about co-operation during the manufacturing of the eCars.

This week's big steps forward were adjusting the eCorolla suspension to correct height and the temporary drive shaft construction plans (see http://ecars-now.org/documents/Vetoakselin%20sovitin-vasen-250309-ELe.pdf ) from Corolla and Swift parts.

The heater will be implemented with water circulation and it will be connected to the original heating system of eCorolla. Daniel has designed the setup and it has been tested in earlier one-shot conversion, it should be simple and inexpensive.

Simpler gear selector is being designed on the center console (forward and reverse are needed at least) along with the eGUI display.

Most other components are already in store an available for assembly, but the Lithium Balance battery management system is still on the way.

The protocol for eGUI and eECU communication was defined and tested with a separate demo kit, but some work still needs to be done for it to work with the real eECU hardware (Henkka and Tapsa).

Work with eGUI has advanced for "final" screen #1 layouts in SVG format (Joona). Jukka R. has made a version of it that talks with the eGUI engine using javascript. After that's done, Henkka adds them to eGUI engine and there's a working chain from the motor controller to the display (DMOC->eECU->eGUI->SVG->Firefox) - principle.

The eGUI engine has an option to specify parameters and to monitor different devices in "console mode", which is meant to be used only when the car's not moving. It might not even be in the final user interface or very well hidden. It's not really a "unix console" but an ordinary browser application really. Henkka's blog at http://yty.vox.com has more information.

April 16th

The Tuesday after Easter saw a dozen of activists/team leaders gathering to the eGarage, called there by Janne, the project manager, to clarify the vision shared between different teams.

Open things:
- import taxes must be taken care of before registration
- electric motor aligment and attachment to the motor/battery frame
— must have 10 mm insulation
— the motor/battery frame has to come straight up and out from eCorolla engine compartment
- "Racing vacuum pump" was selected to the first car
- DC/DC converter is at hand
- A tractor water heater is one of the heater possibilities
- still waiting for Lithium Balance's shipment
- gas pedal (watt pedal actually) position reading ok, motor controller commands in place but not tested yet
— security checks and thoughts must be added to the software
— original potentiometer (about 1-3.4 kOhm) from gas pedal linkage will be used
- drive direction selector still to be decided, a Valtra rotating switch perhaps?
- interior team comments needed for above
- Megatech from Nummela could help with electric wire set
- chargers need to be ordered

Pics and more stories are at Henkka's blog.

There was a podcasting team from "PodPuhe" at the eGarage around Easter and they interviewed Jukka J. but the podcast is in Finnish ( http://podcastit.tv/index.php?q=node/200 )

April 20th

Motor support was built and the electric motor can now be mounted to correct position. The final battery frame design is being worked by Vikke. See animation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1nL5pUXnzk&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fyty.vox.com%2F&feature=player_embedded

There's now a team called "Inteam" and they work with the cabin interior.

The electric innards of eCorolla (battery frame, motor support ) get a green paint finish and the paint cans were 50% off when good people of RTV Riihimäki heard where they will be used. :-)

More people drop by to see the eGarage action IRL (in real ife) instead of hanging around the website or mailing list.

April 27th

Lots of media has been visiting the eGarage even though the car doesn't even move yet: Aamulehti, Image, Energia magazine and Keskisuomalainen among the others. It's good to have visibility, that way the information about electric cars will keep spreading and it introduces the project to people who might be interested. It takes a toll also: the interviews and photo/video shoots take time, not to mention cleaning up the place… in the future there should be a day/time slot for media attention and the rest of time are reserved to the project.

There's another Corolla project called äCorolla, by "Äpy team" (http://kauppa.apy.fi/info), it has a Siemens motor, 100 Lithium batteries, top speed around 120-170 km/h and range of 100-150 km. The äCorolla was on display in Kamppi, Helsinki in April 29th.

Still waiting for BMS.

May 4th

After a long day for Kari A. and Eki (the eGarage owner) the motor support and electric motor are in their correct places with a little grinding involved. Now a good welder is needed A-SAP (One came up and did the job overnight. Impressive!)

More activists are needed to get the car on the road, preferably during May. Now there are too few builders compared to the publication and completion calendars.

The Lithium Balance BMS arrived around April 28th or 29th. One team could get involved with the BMS if there are willing activists.

May 11th

The car, eCorolla, is ready for display in Electric Vehicle Symposium in Stavanger ( http://www.evs24.org/ ).

Motor and battery frames are painted, motor is in it's place and cabin interior is clean and tidy. Only batteries and BMS are missing from a full display setup.

The car is displayed exactly as it is and the community goes to present themselves openly and honestly: this is what we do, this is where we are now. Most important thing is to communicate the project idea as a teaser: this will be available soon and there's even more.

The community-driven industrial volume conversion is something new even on global scale and open source is coming to (electric) car circles.

Other recent efforts include
- the brochure at http://ecars-now.org/documents/eCars-now_Brochure-EVS24_3.pdf
- eCars T-shirts have been printed (only to the symposium team at first)
- video presentations, one example at http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F664C2A2E65CEC1A
- Viking Line sponsored the ferry trip with the towcar and trailer in the truck deck and cabins for the team, big thank you for them
- exhibition gear was gathered
- international press release by Jiri and the international language team

There are total of ten activists either already in Stavanger or heading that way, publicity should be guaranteed. Stay tuned. :-)

Best regards,

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Project blog translations, part 6.

Tapsa and Risto got the Azure motor to spin last Sunday. It took some command line work with the eECU (engine control unit), the eGUI (graphical user interface) isn't yet coupled with the eECU.

eECU and eGUI teams are going to meet and get the parts to work together in the near future.

Drive shafts and engine compartment frame (that supports the batteries and where the motor and most components are attached to) are still under construction.

Best regards,

Edit: There are also a note about this in Henkka's blog.

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Project blog translations, part 5.

People from Lithium Balance, Denmark, visited us and had a workshop in Finland in the beginning of February. Lots of different aspects of battery packages were discussed: packaging, insulation, heating, crash security. The battery management system (BMS) should arrive from Denmark in couple of weeks.

Two sets of motors arrived from Azure Dynamics last week. Before this there were models by Vikke about motor installation cage where the motor, batteries and auxiliary devices will be attached. The real motor was fitted into the Corolla engine compartment during Sunday, the final installation cage is still under construction.

Corolla drive shafts don't match the Azure gear box. The gear box has 22 tooth coupling but the Corolla drive shafts have 23 tooth coupling, diameter and lengths are identical, one could really say it's a "near miss". The best solution would be to change the gearbox coupling specification for manufacturing the next ones. That would be cheaper for the conversion buyers and also faster than deal with it during the conversion.

Engine control unit (eECU) team was debugging the software and there was some activity on the bus, but the high voltage connections were not complete yet, so the motor didn't get to spin yet.

Eki spent lots of time under the Corolla measuring things for slipstreaming plates. The idea is to make the underside of the car as aerodynamic as possible.

Some ideas about vacuum pumps for brake boosters and open source BMS have been thrown around in the technical mailing list. We'll see which of them evolve further.

To be continued…

Best regards, Murska

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Project blog translations, part 4.

Finnish energy company Fortum donated EUR 30000 to eCars - Now! -community for completing the first eCorolla prototype. Fortum has exclusive right to cover the car with their name, logo and trademark. eCars - Now! can also add their name and logo on the car.

The first eCorolla donor car was purchased from Warsaw, Poland during 17.-19. of December. The car is year 2004 model white sedan. The price was reasonable EUR 6333 but additional import taxes and toll fees aren't clear yet. They usually are around EUR 2000 - 3000 for this kind of a car.

Some pictures and Polish technical information available in the beginning of this thread.

Br, Murska

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Check out Henkka's blog!

Henkka is keeping a blog from his point of view about this eCars - Now! -project:

Lessons learned while tinkering and participating in eCars.Now! EV-conversion project

Check it out at



✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Project blog translations, part 2 (earlier)

This is second piece of translated Finnish project blogs just in case some of our foreign readers would like to have updated info about the project proceedings.

(Hei puuhamiehet! Jos nimenne tai tekstinne käyttäminen tässä ei ole mielestänne soveliasta, laittakaa viestiä joko wikin kautta tai ecars-listalle niin säädän tätä. - Hey activists! If you think your name or text isn't appropriate to use in here, send me a message by wiki or ecars-list and I will tweak this - Murska)

Week 48 update

Rev up the engine! (Janne K 25.11.2008)

Thanks to Jiri's spectacular negotiation skills the project funding is getting better so it's time to rev up the engine and start to put the car together.

This week's theme is modeling the engine compartment and mechanically fitting the wooden model of the electric motor into Corolla.

With engine compartment 3D model we can plan final positions of motor, battery pack and accessories under the hood. After that we can order the installation brackets from a metal shop.

In the background the eECU (electric engine controller unit) group and GUI (graphical user interface) group have been working and we'll get to look their results in the upcoming weeks. Thanks for all the activists for the immense momentum.

Re: Rev up the engine! (Mika Salo 30.11.2008)

Measuring the engine compartment part 2:

Battery pack for the proto (40 Ah):

Trying on the model motor and batteries:

eECU and software schematics:

Planning the heat pump and fiddling other things:

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Project blog translations, part 2.

This is third piece of translated Finnish project blogs just in case some of our foreign readers would like to have updated info about the project proceedings.

(Hei puuhamiehet! Jos nimenne tai tekstinne käyttäminen tässä ei ole mielestänne soveliasta, laittakaa viestiä joko wikin kautta tai ecars-listalle niin säädän tätä. - Hey activists! If you think your name or text isn't appropriate to use in here, send me a message by wiki or ecars-list and I will tweak this - Murska)

Week 49 update

The mechanics is rolling, then electronics and user interface (JanneK 1.12.2008)

Last Sunday some measurements were taken and there's now a cloud of points in the 3D-section of the Finnish site. Based on a wood model and cardboard piece measurements at least 40 Ah of batteries will fit easily under the Corolla's hood. All components are now modeled so everyone with 3D skills can have a computer party and try to fit the needed pieces under the hood.

Some viewpoints that surfaced from the discussions:
- one large battery pack is better than many smaller ones. One reason is keeping the cell temperatures as identical as possible.
- the motor can be tilted forward or standing up against the firewall for larger connected space in front of it

The mechanics work will continue in electronic form for the following weeks until the motor installation brackets are drawn and the motor arrives to Finland.

The eECU (electric engine controller unit) group will have a meeting with the GUI (graphical user interface) group.
At the workshop there was a demo of the eECU proto board that was talking nicely to the GUI and motor controller.

Re: The mechanics is rolling, then electronics and user interface (JanneK 1.12.2008)

The idea is to use 110 ferrite cells that have nominal voltage of 3.2V.

110*3.2*40 = 14.08 kWh (nominal capacity). Take 80% of that because ferrite cell capacity drops quickly to that level and then another 80% which reserves something to prevent driving the batteries completely empty. That leaves 9 kWh of usable energy.

The actual production car is supposed to use larger batteries, some out-of-the-sleeve numbers are 60 and 90 Ah, but the final decision will be made when the first car moves and the real consumption will be measured.

Re: The mechanics is rolling, then electronics and user interface (anon 1.12.2008)

Quick calculation: if battery pack of 40 Ah gives real capacity of 9 kWh, 90 Ah pack will give 20 kWh capacity.

Sounds really optimistic because range of 150 km won't happen even if the car consumes only 15 kWh per 100 km.

Re: The mechanics is rolling, then electronics and user interface (Vikke Hyvonen 1.12.2008)

The pics from Azure shows that the motor kit can be installed only +/- 15 degrees from horizontal position, probably because of the transmission lubrication.

The 3D models seem to indicate that the differential axle will be a bit higher than the Corolla's original. Azure doesn't fit at the same place so some longer drive shafts are needed.

Edit: Missed week 48 update which is the second part, so changed this to part 3. - Murska

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Project blog translations, part 1.

This is first piece of translated Finnish project blogs in case some of our foreign readers would like to have updated info about the project proceedings.

(Hei puuhamiehet! Jos nimenne tai tekstinne käyttäminen tässä ei ole mielestänne soveliasta, laittakaa viestiä joko wikin kautta tai ecars-listalle niin säädän tätä. - Hey activists! If you think your name or text isn't appropriate to use in here, send me a message by wiki or ecars-list and I will tweak this — Murska)

"Kuulumisia hallilta" - Tales from the shop (Mika Salo, 11.11.2008)

Today at the shop two activists got the internal combustion engine off the pre-proto-Corolla.


and the workshop walls got some attention too


Re: Why a crash car as a pre-proto? (r-r- 13.11.2008)

Even though the crash car has bumps and dents, seems that the most important parts are intact. That got the tech team something to work with and test different things while waiting the actual prototype.

Re: Tales from the shop (EVforMe 12.11.2008)

That awful engine had to be plucked out because it stank. The wires are marked, hopefully the whole engine wire set can be removed. Exhaust pipe is still in its place with the other lambda sensor. Keep the catalytic converter and the rest is junk. Gear stick and wires wait for removal, nobody's going to need them, I guess.

Re: Tales from the shop (mfb4242 14.11.2008)

Took out the wire set from ECU. There were just some grounding and 12V wires that can still be used.

Janne K removed the seats, now the rest of the wires are wound up from dashboard to the tail. Next we will cut off half of the car from the bottom of the windshield and below the pedals. This way the front end can be lifted to a rig and everything can be tried into the engine compartment without much extra room around that.

Electric 12V power steering was really nice surprise. Daniel S pointed it out, it's on the steering axle under the dashboard. It simplifies the needed components and purchasing. Also it keeps the front end simpler.

When the set can be loaded with ease, we can do the first Beta proto. That will go to real and moving car for test drives.

Re: Tales from the shop (mfb4242 18.11.2008)

Moments ago the Corolla jig was stripped from the interior stuff and it was chopped to a convertible. The roof was cut off from the bottom of the pillars. Every possible piece of plastic has been packed up and are waiting for storage. Next one is rear axle, it will be sent to the guy who sold the chassis. Seats were in good condition, they had airbags too, but we got only EUR 80 from them.

Re: Tales from the shop (Halli 23.11.2008)

Some of the guys are at the workshop again, the saw will sing again.

The target is to cut down the car to the final jig form. Draining brake fluids and removing rear axle.

(9 and half hours later)

The car is in smaller pieces now. Some phone cam video was taken and will be uploaded somewhere.

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

Waiting for the October Surprise


It's been a while since last posting..

Here I will try to tell some key points what has happened in the eCorolla project here in Finland. I know that I promised to write Part II on "How to start an eCars - Now! project in my country" weeeks ago. Sorry for that! Here I have to reveal some personal stuff. I have been home with my younger son Leo for 1,5 years. During that time I had more hours for eCars than today. I have now been working full-day in somewhere completely different. - That is to say Part II will come when ready and at that point we will offer you some "keys-in-your-hands-ready" IT stuff by which you can easily launch a simple version of the eCars - Now! project in your country.

How an open source project can get stuck into financing problems?

Yes, it has happened to us. When we started, pretty soon the Norwegian Enviro Elbilsag came and said that they would finance the prototype. At that point we hadn't even begun to think of the funding because we thought getting the first 500 names would take at least six months. - Both wrong!

500 names came in eleven days and the Norwegian funding didn't materialize. There was a very strange set of manouvers played inside-and-out Fevt (Finnish Electric Vehicle Technologies). You see, the man who started this, Jukka Järvinen, started also Fevt. Suddenly Fevt was to make the eCorollas for the Norwegians. And then not. And then back again.

All this created much confusion in the open source project team: What would be the use of making the eCorolla if the Fevt is going to make it anyway? This cliffhanger lasted almost half a year. But there was yet another business-is-weird set that was holding us back -and forth again..

In April I personally opened discussion with a billion euros Finnish company if they would fund the first prototype. At first it all went like a dance, but then.. Probably what happened was that so many sections of the company got interested of the project that internal discussion took months. And between those months there were the looong holidays of the big bosses. ;-)

At the moment the sponsorship deal is still not closed. The official EV association of Finland, which had to came in to help as a legal entity (that eCars - Now! is not), had also to make its own ramifications and reporting structures. Now the billion-euros-company is offering us a paper that is basically secret and honestly that feels like poison to me. We will see if they can grow to opennes.

We are also starting a grass-roots financing model with a small car-sharing company which is looking very promising. We might or might not close the deal with the giga-company, but we will surely make the deal with the shoestring company. So finance is on the way. And the sum? - Ridiculous 30 000 euros, which is a double ridiculous sum since the target price for a production eCorolla is 27 500, only about two thousand euros more! - But I guess there still is the risk of not getting the thing run in the first place. The burden of proof lays in our hands.

Now some good news:

- Yesterday we got our first concrete Corolla to work with. It is a crash-car, so it can not become the prototype. Yet it is crucial, since much of the work is in reverse-engineering the workings of the drive computer(s) and that can be done also with a cheap crash-car.

- Earlier on Jukka Järvinen founded a company Electric Vehicle X, which is solely concentrated on conversion business. The eCars - Now! community has helped Jukka with building his facilities and Jukka / EvX will offer his expertise, garage and equipment freely into the use for the eCorolla project.

- Norwegian Enviro Elbilsag came to fund this after all, but in a slightly different set. They invested in Jukka's EvX and have been testing Azure Dynamics' motors with Citroen Berlingo in Norway that will give the project here much valuable information.

Now, to get back on the "How to start an eCars - Now! project in my country, Part II"…
First, I envisioned a grand system, where in the core would be a global database of people, questionnaire answers etc. A system that would combine different eCar model projects, country sister projects and language profiles into a single matrix..

Today it seems that that's still the case where we should be heading but instead of trying to build it all at once, we will start small and build from that. After all, we are all making this on our free will, part time and may have the time and energy only for a gradual evolution.

So.. I will post the Part II and with that some tools that you can begin with.

It will be simple.

✇ Electric Cars - Now! Project Blog

How to start an eCars - Now! project in my country, Part 1


Suddenly there were many people asking us more info on the eCars - Now project, from all over the world. Some just having general curiosity, but many clearly thinking about the possibilities to join the project with a local initiative. Instead of answering each and every one separately day-to-day, I promised to write a how-to-blog.

Countries where we have been contacted in purpose to start a project or to just wanting to buy an eCar include to this day the following 18 countries: Denmark, Latvia, Great Britain, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Canada, USA, South-Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, India, Nepal and Tajikistan. From more than half of these countries contacted us by more than one person.

Please keep in mind that the Finnish project is still in its early stage and we do not have crystal clear answers to everything. We did not intend to globalize before the introduction of the prototype to first have a proof that this can really work. So there is some uncertainty and "in construction" with the project that we are offering. On the other hand this might give you a more fresh and true perspective on how things can be done in real life. And yes, a globalized project can make the dream happen much much faster than previously held possible.


1. Evaluate what you have

Each one of you have a slightly different settings and local circumstances. Some of you might have background in the old car manufacturing or repair business. Some of you might have worked on environmental organizations and have experience on organizing not-for-profit projects. Some of you are IT specialists who are at home with all the web technics. All of these skills can be used for the project of course.

The Danish project, which is currently the only eCars - Now! country project besides the Finnish original one, decided to concentrate on getting a lot of sponsorship money and buying the whole conversion blueprint outside.

For some other person it would much more make sense first to do his own singular conversion with his own hands, even if it was never ment to be mass-produced. Understanding can be greatly grown from the concrete side. For some, doing the research work through the wikipedia and EV associations' sites is definitely what to do first.

Some people focuse doing things by themselves or within a small group. Some start immediately networking with possible partners. There's no single way to do it right. In any way, you must start from what you have, using what you know and do best. After that it's all expanding to areas of information that you don't yet know that much about.

2. What are your local circumstances?

What might work in the Finnish markets might not work somewhere else. For example, cars and gasoline are heavily taxed here. In the USA this is different, which may cause a slightly different approach in marketing be more effective than here.

Also, each country has it's own laws regarding electric vehicles: From conversion work to taxation and to registering an converted electric vehicle varies a lot from country to country. Would you guess that in Finland an electric car has to pay a yearly diesel-fuel tax !!

As far as I have understood, when a car is registered in any EU country, then it should be valid in any other EU country as well. Yet at the same time, the registration process may vary from EU country to other. This may lead to a situation that some countries will become exporter of converted electric cars inside the EU.

Also, if you are buying the ICE car from another country and after that converting the car, it could make the case really different from the option that you convert a locally owned car.

Almost all countries have at least one electric car registered so there should be some code of conduct for electric cars that you can find out from your local officials.

3. Is there a working Electric Vehicle Association in your country?

Some of the countries like USA, Canada and Australia have already existing strong and capable EV associations. Would it make sense to contact them? - Yes of course. Would it be best that the already existing organizations take hold of the local eCars - Now! projects? - Probably not.

In Finland we have had an existing EV association. Yet we decided to have the eCars - Now! as a separate and distinct entity. Even when many of the people working in the Finnish eCars - Now! are the same who are active also in the official Electric Vehicle Association, we have decided to keep the groups as separate entities.

If there is no EV association in your country, then maybe you come to the conclusion that it is the eCars - Now!, which is going to be THE electric vehicle association of your country. While you may want to focus just to the project goals - getting the eCars to the market - there are multitude of issues around electric cars that will inevitably come into the discussion when you communicate with folks: The energy production system, harmfullness of internal combustion engine, biofuels as an alternative etc. These all are things that are important to be able to know well and communicate eloquently to all people interested in electric cars.

4. How to organize?

We have made a decision of not to organize. This may seem as a paradox, but there are plenty of reasons to back up the soundness of this idea. First of all, eCars - Now! is an open source, open community project. Within that idea a membership and rules does not fit well. Also, once you start having formal meetings and certified procedures etc., much of the free spirit is lost.

Not to have any formal decision-making system has it downsides, of course. If there is going to be some major decision and a big minority, there is the possibility of breaking up. But this should be cheered. Breaking up means then following two separate paths. In so, it means growth in aspects as how things can be done. It of course means then splitting up forces that may slow down. This is the downside.

What it comes to making agreements with outside organizations, then formal and official entity has its role. Companies and officials have a hard time trying to grasp something that is not organized, "just a community", no matter what miracles it performed. So some sort of existing organization, be that EV association, environmental association, consumer association, car-owners association or even a private company is a handy thing to have at use when needed. But don't get preoccupied with that. My personal view is that the gains of not formal organizing are bigger than the losses as long as there is some supportive official organization for some "very official" needs.

5. Recruiting is everything

It is only natural to start things with your friends; work mate, school mate, a neighbour or so. Most of the best rock'n'roll bands have been based that way. Some of the most important technological companies too have founded their purpose, vision and succes from that start.

But that is just the start. You want more. In the "business" of non-profit recruiting is everything, because the cost of the extra labour is zero. To recruite people, you must create seductive things, you must be open, honest, fair, not egocentric and clear in communication. And there is a paradox too; if you just concentrate on recruiting, then there is nothing of a real soul in your project and people will sense that too. Recruiting is not that much of scanning potential people and persuasing them to do things for you. It is remembering that out there there are talented people that only wait to hear of you if you spread the word and wait with trust.

So the art of recruiting people comes along when you make genuine effort to polish your thoughts and use the time to communicate them over and over again. And to be open to really listen to all those other people that may be smarter than you. That creates the atmosphere where creativity flows and grows. That's what attract creative and talented people like honey does bees.

6. Learn from the original project, learn from other sister projects

In part two I will write a more closer analysis what is the overall scheme of the eCars - Now! project and how we have been able to move it forward and what wee see the next things to do. Again I must emphasize that we don't have all the answers, but we will try to help as much as we can. ( In this part one I try to write it out in a more general way, not yet coming into smaller details. )

7. When they see it, they'll believe it

Our experience is that many skills can have value within the eCars - Now! project. For some reason, here in Finland we have attracted many graphic designers to join the project. Since most of the project's communication happens in the web and since there is not yet much concrete stuff to give us credibility, I believe the work of the graphical guys has been essential to our succes from the start.

8. It's all in the web

I believe that for a sister project the good ability to read and write the web is essential. Probably even more important than the know-how on electric cars. As I wrote in the earlier blog, we are moving under Drupal open source web platform that enables us to give each country project a free site with unified database and all sorts of handy tools.

The development of the Drupal site has gone faster than expected and we are now in a phase were we could technically give administrator statuses for people to start building sister projects' sites. Having said that, there are still some decisions to be make for the structure, before we move into that. But it is just some weeks, not months when you can start your own site under the global eCars - Now! umbrella. Propably the blog post Number 3 will discuss those details and then you will be able to actually start building your local eCars - Now! project.

9. Start from the demand

When we started the eCars - Now! project, we had a clear goal in our minds: To create the market for the electric cars as soon as possible. For the market to exist, there is the supply and the demand. In the texbooks it is said that supply can create demand and demand can create supply. Now which one is more easily created?

In this case in order to create supply, one has to first build a prototype that fairly close matches the product you are going to send to the market. Not an impossible thing to do, that's exactly what the eCorolla prototype will be.

But even before that we created the demand. This was done much, much, much more easily. Everywhere in the world, there is a demand for a non-polluting, reliable and cheap way for personal travel. eCar does just that. When the public does not know of electric cars, there is no actual demand for them.

What is needed is just to coin the idea and ask people. - And Heureka! A latent demand is then turned into an active demand, even without showing any concrete product. That is why the visual and textual side has been and still is so important to the eCars - Now! project. It remains to be critical to the point when we have the first eCar prototype to show to the public.
(By eCar I here mean not just any EV, but a car that is able for mass electric conversion.)

I have a training for a social scientist. So making questionnaires is what I know something of. We made a questionnaire that created the actual, acute demand. I strongly recommend you do the same.

One beautiful thing of the questionnaire had, was that we asked people what kind of electric car would they want to have. This gave people the notion that their opinion had a way of affecting things. And it continues to do so, even after we have decided the first model to be eCorolla, people still want to say what they prefer, so that we can take their opinion into account when we consider the second car model to be converted. This willingness of people to show their wants gave us numbers; "1000 people have already answered our questionnaire…!" I believe that it also worked as a initiating phase to many who then became active in our electronic community.

We could translate the Finnish questionnaire into english and you could then translate it into your native language(s). That is one possibility. - Then again, there are different circumstances around the globe, so I tend to think not one global questionnaire will do.

We have been discussing with World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) with the possibility of creating a global questionnaire for the electric cars. One possibility is that we do that so that there would be let's say 10 global questions and each country could add their local questions as they like. They would all be in the same database, so that WWF could use the global data in their lobbying. Also with that, in each country you could have the local chapter of WWF to be your partner.

Also, even if we found that in Finland the second car to be converted should be let's say Renault Megane, if in Germany (having no active group for making a conversion prototype) had a questionnaire showing that there are lot of people wanting to have Wolksvagen Golf, we might better do that. Why? - Because 80 million people of Germany is more than 5 million people of Finland. All these conversion blueprints will be available through the whole world. So asking some of the questions in a uniform way globally makes sense.

10. Not all eCars - Now! countries need to have a conversion of their own

If we could have a three mass conversion schemes, we could create a huge global conversion markets. One would be middle class car, Toyota Corolla. Second could be a small city car, let's say Nissan Micra. The third one could be a family wagon capable of carrying seven persons.

Now let's say that in Finland we do the Corolla, Austria does the small car and USA does the family wagon. With these three options we can cover a very large portion of the car demand of the world. If we had two more, let's say Opel Corsa from the Danish project and some executive level car, say BMW, the hand would be quite full. This would require only five conversion projects.

For the conversion markets really to grow and glow we do need a hadfull of efficient, quality mass conversions. Three or four could be enough for that. But if these conversions just stay within those three or four countries, nothing great will happen.

So if you have appetite for the eCars - Now! project but are afraid if your car-making abilities are not good enough, don't be. Globally the demand side is more important than the supply side. Supply here meaning the supply of the conversion blueprints.

Supply of concrete conversion services will probably be essential in all the countries.

In the part 2 of How to start and eCars - Now! project, I will discuss:
- What could be the logistics of the global common purchases
- A story of how our project has gone along
- Translation of our questionnaire, so you will get some idea what kind of set of questions might work to you.
- Translation of eCars - Now! code of conduct
- What car to convert and on what basis to decide that?
- How will the buying of an eCar take place for an ordinary citizen

I thought of starting a global email list for discussing the matter on how to start an eCars - Now project. For the moment I feel though that it's best if you just spontaneously comment this blog posting. - I desperately need some feedback !!! ;-)

All the Best,

- Jiri