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Electric Porsche: The end of a sad saga.

Discussion in 'EV (Electric Vehicle) Discussion' started by daniel, Oct 14, 2011.

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  1. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    In June of 2008 I bought a 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera and contracted with a guy in Florida to convert it to electric. He botched the job. Then I got the president of the local EV club (who also has an EV conversion business) to agree to fix it, which required completely dismantling, re-designing, and re-doing the conversion.

    The first and second parts of the saga are told in my Electric Porsche thread, and in my http://priuschat.com/forums/ev-electric-vehicle-discussion/74581-electric-porsche-update.html thread.

    Now for the sad ending:

    I finally got the car back. The year estimate for the fix turned into more like two, as more and more things turned out to be screwed up from the original botched conversion. For a while it looked as though I might have the Porsche before the Nissan Leaf arrived, and they seemed neck and neck for a while, as both the Nissan and the Porsche were delayed. Back in June, when I finally got sick of waiting for both cars, and the frustration level had become intolerable, I flew to Seattle on a whim and test-drove a Tesla Roadster. The production Roadster turned out to be so much nicer in every respect than the prototype I had ridden in 4 years ago, that I bought one and canceled my Leaf order.

    Now the Porsche is here, the local guy finally having finished it.

    But there's a vibration in the motor at high rpms, because it's out of balance. That's probably fixable fairly easily, just a matter of rebalancing.

    There's a bigger problem: We learned fairly recently, from the original battery importer, that the original conversion guy damaged the batteries BEFORE installing them. True to his behavior throughout this project, he never told me, and he just went ahead and installed the damaged batteries, perhaps hoping I would never notice. LiFePO4 batteries have come way down in price, but it would still cost a sh!tload of money to replace the pack.

    And here's my dilemma:

    Three years ago, when I was originally supposed to be in this car, it would have been one of a tiny number of hundred-mile freeway-capable EVs on the road. It would have been a showcase for what an electric car can do. It would have been a huge step up from my Zap Xebra. And it would have been worth what it cost, in a market where there was just about nothing like it.

    But today even if it had a balanced motor and a brand-new battery pack it has insignificant resale value because anybody who wants a commuter EV can buy a Leaf, and anybody who wants an electric sports car can buy a Tesla Roadster. Add to that, that I don't even want to drive it now that I have the Tesla, which is less comfortable to sit in, but vastly superior in every other way. The Porsche is three years too late to be of interest to me or value in the market. And without a new battery pack, it is a beautiful junker. (Though it still handles like the car it was. Everything Paul didn't touch is still impeccable German engineering.)

    And so...

    I've decided I'm not willing to put any more money into a car that I would not want to drive and wouldn't be able to sell. It was a mistake to buy it, a mistake to pay Paul to convert it, and a mistake to pay Gordy to fix Paul's botched conversion. I will list the car for sale, but I know I'm not going to get an offer I'd accept. Gordy has offered to garage it over the winter, but I imagine in a year or two it will end up in my outside parking area, under a tarp, until I die and my estate sells it for $50.

    It's not the worst mistake I've ever made. I'd say it's around my third worst mistake of my life. But now I'm going to forget about it and move on. I'm enjoying driving the Roadster. I have the EV I've wanted for so long. And it's a far better car than the Porsche ever could have been, and while it lacks the size and comfort of the Leaf, it goes almost 3 times farther, and for acceleration, it blows away pretty much anything else on the road other than another Tesla. For the range and fun factor, I don't mind a few contortions getting in and out.
    Cristino and JMD like this.
  2. efusco

    efusco Troll Slayer Staff Member

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    Daniel,
    You appreciate that you probably can't sell it for anything near it's value, but having it sitting around unused is silly.

    Why not call around to some local colleges and/or high schools and see if any of them want to take it on as a project car. you can donate it, take it as a tax deduction (probably a pretty decent one) and at least get some value out of it that way and you're helping the EV community by putting a car like that in the hands of students who want/need it.

    I realize the students in the link below are a long ways away from you, but they clearly have the talent to fix up your EV and probably make it much better:
    West Philly Hybrid X Team
  3. efusco

    efusco Troll Slayer Staff Member

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    I still think, btw, and wish that you'd have sued the original converter guy--he screwed you and he'll screw someone else, too, if he thinks he can get away with it again.
  4. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    There are times I want to sue Paul. But it would probably mean spending a considerable amount of time in Florida, spending a lot of money on a lawyer and on getting Gordy (who worked on it here) to go down there and testify, and then after I got a judgement, being unable to actually collect anything.

    The guy is a crook. The world is full of crooks. If I were to sue everyone who has cheated me I'd be spending the rest of my life in court, instead of mountain hiking, scuba diving, freediving, visiting art galleries, etc.

    I know that you will disagree with what follows, and I know that virtually everyone on this board will disagree as well, but capitalism is one huge, organized con game, which serves primarily to steal from people who work and give to people who don't, or in some cases who work, but are compensated a thousand times more than those who work just as hard or harder. What Paul did to me is such a tiny part of that, it matters to nobody but me and the very tiny community of people interested in electric cars. The word has gone out: Nobody in the know trusts Paul any more. And the courts are notoriously incapable of stopping scammers, who just close up shop and open again under another name.

    The time has come for me to deal with the fact that I was robbed one more time, and move on. As for the car, I'll revisit its fate after some of the present anger has worn off. Three years ago, EV conversion was a very progressive and environmental thing to do. Now the Leaf and the Tesla are on the road, with more to come. Once the Leaf goes into full-scale production in Tennessee, I'm not sure that conversion will any longer be viable.
  5. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Right you are. Enjoy the tesla!

    I know that I had this presumption that EVs are relatively simple machines, but I have wised up, in part due to reported experiences like yours. Thanks for sharing
  6. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    This is a stretch....

    But when I was young, I made a fair amount of mistakes simply buying (used) cars.

    I'd buy a vehicle that I thought I wanted, discover I'd been ripped off, then oddly I'd invest a lot of time, effort and money fixing the vehicle BUT then be so disenchanted with the whole thing that I would just want to get rid of the vehicle. (until I wised up and grew older the cycle had a tendency to repeat).

    No use throwing good money after bad. And if you are now happy with other options? Then I agree, I'd just let the saga end. But I do think, if you are at the point where recouping losses doesn't matter to you, then there has to be donation options available.

    In a weird way, when I was young I felt I was almost doing automotive charity work. I'd usually invest way too much money, just get the vehicle running good, and then.....sell at a loss...

    But I felt like I was making the world a little better place....I was ripped off...but the person buying from me? They got a good deal. It was almost like paying it forward...or at least I hope so..

    Good Luck.
  7. efusco

    efusco Troll Slayer Staff Member

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    I understand your stance Daniel, and don't intend to belabor the point, but engaging an attorney to at least send a letter with a financial demand and threat of suit would cost you little, wouldn't involve travel, you could pick a reasonable number (ie. just the cost of his work, the added repairs and the bad batteries). Worst case is he calls your bluff and pays nothing, best case he pays it all. If the guy has a real job they might be able to get a judge to garnish his pay. In any of those cases you are out little or nothing, would have the satisfaction of at least letting the guy know that you have not forgotten the slight, an dmaybe you'd get a bit of $$ back.

    And I do hope you'll consider donating the car either to a charitable group like the one I provided the link to above, a school, or an EV club that could use it as a project vehicle--then something positive will come out of this sad saga and you'll have some satisfaction that it wasn't a complete waste.
  8. KK6PD

    KK6PD _ . _ . / _ _ . _

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    Daniel, wow what can I say, that's just wrong getting screwed like you did. You went into this project with the thought of getting into the EV realm early, but it appears the mechanic was just a scam artist. I happen to agree with many of the points you brought up. When people finally admit the Social Security System is just a Government run Ponzi scheme, maybe things will change. Yeah, right after the day I die!

    On the positive side, I think you ending up with a Tesla is fitting, and it sounds like you really enjoy driving it!
    I know I would have liked to have one, just a bit pricey for me..... maybe Lotto Time!
  9. GrumpyCabbie

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    I think you're doing the right thing. You now have what you want, spending money on lawyers is throwing good money after bad - and only the lawyer wins. Move on, dontate the Porsche to a good cause so some good can be made of it and it'll make you feel good too.

    Life's too short.
  10. Skoorbmax

    Skoorbmax Senior Member

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    Interesting story, OP. I'll review your other threads. You know better than anyone about whether it's worth going after Paul or not. It's your time/money and you're obviously not stupid so I've no advise there.

    I must say you have to do something with this Porsche, though. You can either pay to finish the project or sell it or donate it, but you need to do something. The idea about a college was good, but only if it's a college that has the expertise to really do something with it; you don't want a bunch of fresh high school kids destined to end up as no more than lube changers messing it up.

    That's still a nice Porsche. And even though Leafs are around very few people have a Porsche, let alone an electric (I saw an older EV Porsche around here a couple years ago).

    I'm frankly surprised it's so hard to convert a vehicle to EV.
  11. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    I had to do one last thing to put this behind me: I had to phone Paul and ask him to give me my money back. I remained calm and courteous. I listed the major defects of the car as he sent it to me, some of which were things we had discussed at the time, many of which I was not aware of until later.

    Basically he denied everything. Calmly, and apparently with a straight face, he denied everything. The batteries, he said must have been bad when he got them. The motor, he said, could not possibly vibrate even if it had been mounted off-center. Bolts, he said, can work themselves loose in a matter of weeks. The power brakes, he insisted, worked fine when the car left his shop. One by one he insisted that he did nothing wrong: Either it went bad after I had the car, or it was not really a problem. Live battery contacts one millimeter from grounded frame was no problem because they never actually shorted out.

    He also said he could not refund my money because he didn't have any. That part I believe.

    None of this surprised me. I just needed to make the request before letting it all go. After fifteen minutes or so (not really sure), he said that being Friday he had to leave and could we continue the conversation later. I had really said and heard what I needed to, so I agreed that he could call me on Monday.

    As for the car getting donated, that could possibly happen at some point, though the only things it really needs now are balancing of the motor and a new battery pack, and a new pack will cost more than any club or school class has. Basically, this is a project nobody is going to want to invest in. But I'll revisit the issue when I've calmed down.

    Oh, when I mentioned my disappointment that the car has really passed its window of usefulness, with mass-produced EVs now available, he said that the Porsche could still be just about the best EV on the road. I replied, "Have you ever driven a Tesla Roadster?" And he said, "I've never liked the Lotus." Basically he pooh-poohed the most amazing EV on the road today.
  12. Skoorbmax

    Skoorbmax Senior Member

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    That's the best part of what I read. By that I mean, he screwed you but he's still worse off than you despite that.

    What does a battery pack cost? Is it possible to pay a small amount (?) to get the motor repaired which leaves only the battery outstanding and borrow one from somebody to drive it, see how you like it? Even if the thing was flawless from the get go the battery would need replacing at some point anyway.

    I'm sure that if you do not finish this project it will kill you to see that Porsche on a regular basis and you'd do well to be rid of it. I've been working myself on a long term project and it makes me sick sometimes to think about it. I know others who've gone through the same thing. It either has to be done or gone; having the Porsche kicking around in the garage will always be a hateful reminder of it.

    That is, assuming you don't borrow a battery pack from somewhere, find out that the Porsche is actually pretty nice, and get yourself another one :)
  13. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    It would be nice to borrow a battery pack to see how the car performs. The pack consists of 96 LiFePO4 cells and I can tell you for a fact that nobody in Spokane has one, would probably take ten to fifteen hours of work to install, with the BMS, which consists of a circuit board for every cell, and will probably cost between $12,000 and $15,000 dollars, new, shipped from China, which is the only place to get that battery chemistry without paying probably two or three times that much.

    It's not like the Prius NiCad battery that you could lift out intact and drop in. Those 96 cells are grouped into bundles of, I think, six cells, and those bundles are distributed throughout the car for weight distribution.

    I won't be looking at the Porsche. It is now parked about 250 feet from my house, in a lot where other residents of the association park their RVs. If Gordy does not take it for indoor storage in his new shop, I'll put a tarp over it for winter.
  14. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    Daniel, I have been looking at a Honda Ridgeline that was brought to me. It was an EMIS PHEV also done by Paul Liddle 3 years ago. It has a 22 kWh AGM lead acid pack that is basically shot, having been installed with NO BMS, no overcharge protection, and no method for providing an equalizing charge. Did I mention LEAD ACID??? The pack literally weighs a ton! The charger is only 110V -- pinché as we say here in Northern New Mexico. The driveline makes a clunking sound like a bad U-joint, because of the way the electric motor is integrated between the transmission and the rear axle.

    I still need to have a discussion with the owner about what to do, as fitting it with bms + new LiFePO4 is out of the question for him financially. It is good money after bad anyway. I have 12 of the 18 batteries holding a marginal charge, so he can get a few miles of PHEV for a few more months, perhaps long enough that he can demonstrate the technology to a potential buyer. Or I can pull everything, put a stock driveline back in, and he can sell the parts on ebay.

    Anyway, Daniel, you aren't alone in your suffering.
  15. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    Something like this may happen. I just need some time to cool off. Thanks to everyone who made similar suggestions.



    As soon as I started posting about the Porsche on EV forums, I began to get PMs from several people who had negative things to say about Paul. I won't repeat them because they are hearsay. But such messages erode my ability to believe what he says to me now, if the sheer number of problems with the Porsche didn't do that already.

    Four years ago, when I got the Xebra, I had the dealer install 7 big AGM batteries. This gave the car 84 volts rather than the stock 72, and with 750 pounds of lead, the thing had a range of 40 miles to dead empty. What I didn't realize, and what was not well understood in the Xebra community at the time, is that AGMs are powerful, but short-lived if not treated with kid gloves. I routinely drove it to 75% DoD, when I now know that 50% is as far as they should be discharged. After six months they were showing serious problems, and I had the dealer replace them with LiFePO4, which gave the same range to empty with 500 pounds less weight, and permits 80% DoD, but it was only a 72 volt pack, so the car no longer had the oomph it had before. I've had no problems with it since then. I drove it almost every day until I got the Tesla back in June. I'm hoping to sell it now.

    If you do put new AGMs in the Honda, educate the owner about their limitations. Floodies are much more robust, but need an irrigation system if you don't want to have to fill them by hand all the time. Some folks have had good luck with floodies in the Xebra PK, though I don't think anybody would want to put them in an SD. And they're not as powerful as the AGMs. If you want range, you need lithium. NiMH is somewhere between the two.
  16. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

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    Daniel, you have taken a course of action vastly better than making the legal system richer. You have taken the action of education instead of vengeance. That decision shows a integrity that many lack. Trying to make life better for others is such a better choice than trying to make life worse for one.
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  17. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    I don't know, I think Daniel clearly has the freedom to react to this situation in whatever manner he wishes. But since it sounds to me like the product in it's current condition is certainly a long way from the product he was promised and has paid for, and I have no idea how much his total investment to date has been, I'm not going to default to the idea that he shouldn't seek legal or financial avenues of remedy.

    Since we are dealing with a very unique end product, and individual service of a "craftmanship" nature, that has been worked on by multiple people over a long period of time, determining damages or what should of been and how would be difficult.

    Sometimes emotionally and financially it's simply a better value to cut ones losses.

    But I wouldn't necessarily say don't seek legal advise. A good, ethical lawyer (Yes they exist) might be able to quickly and rather inexpensively tell you what is possible. He might just shake his head and say "That's too bad".

    At the least it would be interesting. You're talking about a one of a kind vehicle and a one of a kind conversion. I'd think you'd have to prove his conversion however unique, was far below the standards promised or the standards that would be followed by others in his rather unique industry. But from what Daniel has revealed...I think that is possible, if difficult.
  18. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Daniel is special, no doubt about it.
    His Epitath can read: "the worse I did with my money was indulge in EVs"

    We should all strive to be as useful and non-destructive in our lifetimes.
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  19. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

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    Very true, but it appears he has made his decision. I just wanted to add a post of support. Walking away from situations where you have been wronged is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength.
  20. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    As strongly as I feel I was wronged in this transaction, readers of my posts have only heard my side of it. A judge and jury would hear both sides, and might be more convinced by Paul. Or to put it more realistically, Paul's lawyer might turn out to be more skilled than mine.

    I've never been in civil court, but I've been in criminal court, and I've been incarcerated with the victims of the criminal "justice" system, and I assure you that courts are not about law or truth, they are about procedure and which lawyer is more skilled in the abuse of that procedure. Since I was guilty, the only way for me to be convicted (as I was) was to forbid my lawyer from making a procedural motion, and insist on presenting the argument that nuclear weapons are a greater crime than was my peaceful, nonviolent act of protest against them.

    It is by no means certain that Paul (who I believe to be in the wrong) would lose in an argument before a court. I'd have to get the people who worked on the car after Paul to testify as to the condition of the car when they received it, and if Paul had a good enough lawyer, he could twist the words of my witnesses, and make them look like fools.



    Thank you. It's not true, but thank you anyway.



    Thank you, too.
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