The MGA With An Attitude The Electric MGA, from UTA - ET-301I
Conversion of an MGA to Electric Power by engineering students at UTA


Transportation for the new millennium

500 W. First Street
Box 19023
Arlington, Texas 76019-0023

Electric Conversion Kit for 1957 MGA

Member Telephone E-mail Expertise
Steve Gillespie*  972-539-1567 Management/Fabrication
Jay Krueger 817-245-6020 Power Supply/Storage
Richard Bergs 817-436-4482 Power train/Motors
Chris Pickering 972-998-8889 Special Equipment/Design
Hank Danford 817-281-0578  Chassis Components

*Team Lead

MAE 4287
February 18, 2000

Executive Summary
The intent of the team is to convert a 1957 MGA into an electric vehicle. The project consists of researching the components, removing the fossil fuel drive train, and installing the electric drive train. The required modifications of the braking system and the suspension system will be part of this project. The main components to our electric conversion are batteries, controller, motor, and miscellaneous equipment and hardware. The electric drive train system will be designed and matched to allow the MGA to have range of 20-30 miles. The project budget is estimated at $115,068, this includes components and design engineering time.

In 1996 there were over 210 million cars registered in the United States alone. Of these, electric vehicles were a small percentage. The technology to make these vehicles more reliable and with a greater range is still in its infancy. Many do not welcome the styling of these vehicles; hence their availability and the vehicles themselves are not that popular.

In choosing a vehicle, many factors are considered: vehicle dimensions, power, safety, acceleration, top speed, range, and styling. Some of the criteria a prospective buyer considers may affect the others. In electric vehicles this becomes more important since the weight, aerodynamics, and system power greatly affect the stying and range. The vehicle weight is used to calculate the required power output of the motor, and the motor in turn determines the battery requirements. A light vehicle with low rolling resistance and air resistance will be a better performing vehicle.

Electric vehicles are more dependable because of fundamental differences between them and a fossil fuel equivalent. The electric power train has fewer moving parts and not as many mechanical dependencies. The system is more dependent on the wires and connections between the solid state components.

Electric vehicles are the transportation of the future. This is not to say that an electric vehicle is limited to future designs. Many late model vehicles have been successfully converted and are used safely every day.

There is no way around it; electric cars are the future. There are hurdles to overcome, but as with any emerging technology these problems will be resolved. The fossil fuel vehicles have become more powerful, efficient, and dependable. With the growing number of ozone alerts in some of the busiest cities in the United States, it is no wonder that alternative systems are now being considered.

Electric vehicles are not completely 100% pollution free. The electricity for the system still must be generated. The benefit of having an electric vehicle is that the pollution that is developed is centralized, and not in the downtown area of a major city. The pollution that is generated is centralized around a power plant that is located away from the public, and has strict government guidelines that it must adhere to. The pollution from this source can be minimized depending on the source. Solar, natural gas, geothermal, and wind power plants create little or no pollution.

There are alternatives to having a battery pack on the vehicle. One alternative is vehicles that are equipped with fuel cells. Although these systems are efficient and non polluting, the technology to make them dependable, safe, and cost effective for mass production is still on the horizon. Another alternative that is seeing mass production is the electric "hybrids." These systems employ a small fossil fuel engine that generates the power for the electric drive train. This system is more efficient than having just the fossil fuel system, but is still dependent on fossil fuel.

Sooner or later the world will run out of petroleum. It may take 100 years for the supply to run out, but there are the environmental considerations. How much longer can we, as a society, use fossil fuels before the pollution becomes too deadly? There are countries right now that need to wear facemasks to breathe in rush hour.

Technical Analysis
As with any vehicle, one considers many options before they decide what to purchase. Engine size, range, styling, and comfort all play an important role in the choice. The same is true for an electric vehicle. Let us consider the motor first.

There are two main types of electric motors: direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). Each has their own advantages. In direct current there are two styles; brushed and brushless. Brushed DC motors are widely used, but have inefficiencies that cannot be overcome. Also, brushed DC motors have a higher maintenance and are dirtier, because of the brushes. For this project, we are considering either a brushless DC, or an AC motor. Both of these motors are similar, but have their own advantages.

    Brushless DC motors have the following advantages
  • Long operating life. These motors have neither brushes nor a metallic commutator that wear out.
  • Highly responsive. The high torque to inertia ratio of brushless motors yield quick response.
  • High speed. Without the conventional commutation, these motors can run at speeds up to 80,000 rpm.
  • Low thermal resistance. The windings of brushless DC motors are located on stationary members. The heat generated can be carried away using direct conduction.
    AC motors have the following advantages:
  • The ability to use regenerative braking. The kinetic energy of the moving vehicle is translated through rotation of the motor, which generates electricity recharging the batteries.
  • Power density. The same frame size AC motor will be more powerful than an equally powered DC motor.
  • Rotor inertia. An AC motor has permanent magnets on the rotor. This difference can be a factor of four in favor of the AC motors. This adds to a faster acceleration.
  • Thermal resistance. The windings in an AC motor are located on the frame of the motor, making it easy to cool.
  • Efficiency. AC motors have efficiencies above 90%, because they are commuted electronically.
Both of these types of motors will work for this project. The choice will be determined by cost, reliability, and efficiency. The brushless DC is cheaper, but does not allow the ease of regenerative braking that an AC system does. AC motors are more powerful, but are also more complex. A compromise will have to be made between cost and performance in the case of the motor for this project.

Once the motor has been chosen, the batteries must be chosen to supply the correct amount of voltage and range to the vehicle. The batteries are rated in voltage and kilowatt-hours. The voltage that our system will have will be between 96 and 300 volts, 96 volts is the minimum recommended for electric vehicles, while 300 and higher becomes too dangerous. There are many types of "tried and trued" batteries, but there are new types that are coming to market.

With the ever-increasing push towards electric vehicles, batteries are being redesigned. Today rechargeable lead-acid batteries are the most popular, and will more than likely be used in this project. However, there are several other types that can be considered. Among these are (listed in increasing performance order):
  • Advanced Lead-Acid. The pricing for this type is $130 per kilowatt-hour.
  • Zinc-Air. The pricing for this type is $150 per kilowatt-hour.
  • Lithium-Ion. The pricing for this type is $1000 per kilowatt-hour.
  • Nickel-Metal-Hydride. The pricing for this type is $225 to 1000 per kilowatt-hour.
  • Lithium-Polymer. This technology is still under development.
The concern with the batteries is that they must be small in size, light, high storage capacity, low power discharge, low maintenance, long life, environmentally friendly, and cost effective. A compromise must be made to use these batteries to fill these requirements. Again, it will be a question of cost, performance, and weight.

There are concerns about the integrity of the chassis and suspension systems. The chassis has square tubing, which is known for its strength. The suspension and brake system will need to be upgraded, but will not be part of this project.

Task List
Phase 1:   Team Organization, Initial Problem Evaluation and Definition

Team Formation and Project Determination
The team is comprised of five mechanical engineering students at the University of Texas at Arlington. The intent of the team is to convert a 1957 MGA into an electric vehicle. The project consists of researching the components, removing the fossil fuel drivetrain, and installing the electric drive train. After determining the scope of the project, the logistics regarding the meeting times for the team and advisor for the project were decided to allow constant and effective communication between the members of the team. The team will meet with Dr. Woods on Wednesdays and the team lead will meet with Dr Lawley biweekly on Wednesdays. The team name is developed from the need for electric vehicles for the new millennium. Steve Gillespie is selected as the team leader to act as a contact between our company, Green, and our course instructor.

First Team Meeting with Dr. Lawley
First team meeting with Dr. Lawley to discuss the project selection. The scope of the project must be challenging enough and encompass multiple disciplines of engineering. Details of what the project is going to consist of, and the flow of the two-semester project are covered. The initial meeting with the customer was completed prior to our formation. During the meeting with Dr. Lawley, the scope of the project was defined.

Design Team Logo
A design team logo is designed to give the company name an identity that also states our mission.
Phase 2:   Research, Initial Project Proposals, and Technical Analysis

Research of Powertrain, Electrical Storage, and Chassis
The motor, controller, batteries, and miscellaneous equipment will be purchased. The team will use technical data about the car, the Internet to research data about the motors, controllers, and batteries needed for the car. The mounting brackets, adapter plates, and battery boxes will need to be designed and fabricated. These adapters will need to not interfere with the function of the driver, and movement of the vehicle. They most also provide safety for the owner and operator of the vehicle.
    Oral Presentation to Class
    An oral presentation is to be developed by a team member and presented by the whole team. The presentation is to define our project purpose and scope along with motivation and rational. All members are to be present to answer questions after the presentation.

    Gather Specification on Available Systems and Vehicle
    The team will determine which systems to be used in the vehicle. Decisions will have to be based on price, performance, weight and reliability for the system to achieve the goal of the team. Verification of the ability of the vehicle to handle the increase on loads must be determined.
Preparation of Project Proposal
The team will prepare a detailed project proposal as outlined by Dr. Lawley. The proposal will act as a contract between our company, our customer, and Dr. Lawley. The proposal will also provide and accountable and objective record for the first semester project completion and grade assessment.
    Write Project Proposal
    The project proposal is to include a cover letter, cover page, abstract, introduction, technical analysis, project task, Gantt chart, and a detailed budget..

    Develop Task and Gantt Charte
    The Gantt chart is developed to specific tasks, the time frame for a tack completion, and responsible team members. Major tasks will be broken into subsections with finite time requirements. Course requirements for presentations and reports are recorded as milestones. Dr. Lawley and Dr. Woods will monitor the progress on each task with the Gantt Chard, as will the team members.

    Project Proposal Due
    The proposal is submitted to Dr. Lawley for evaluation. The proposal is to be then forwarded to for evaluation from the customer.
Preparation for Oral Presentation
The team prepares for the mid-semester project review. The review is in the form of an oral presentation and will be presented by the team.
    Create Presentation on Challenges and Current Status
    The presentation discusses the challenges, limitations, status, and, if any, changes to the original proposal.

    Mid-semester Project Review
    Team lead Steve Gillespie presents the oral presentation to the design class. All members are to be present to answer questions.
Phase III:   Removal of Fossil Fuel Powertrain and Final Report Presentation

Removal of Fossil Fuel Powertrain
The team must remove all components associated with the fossil fuel powertrain currently on the vehicle. Once these components are removed, final measurements can be taken for the needed brackets, adapter plates, and battery boxes.

Preparation for Final Oral Presentation
The team prepares a final report that summarizes the projects goals and accomplishments.
    Finalize Written Report and Prepare Presentation
    Each area of research is addressed with achievements and problem areas. The team prepares and practices an oral presentation.

    Tape Rehearsal of Oral Presentation
    The team performs a tape rehearsal of the final presentation.

    Oral Presentation to Class
    The end-of semester oral presentation to the class is performed by the entire team with questions and answer session from the faculty and students throughout the presentation.

    Final Written Report
    The team submits a final written report summarizing the entire project and goals accomplished.

The schedule for the spring of 2000 is presented of the following pages.

Listed below is the budget for the project.
Project Cost


$     2,699      

Wiring Harness between motor and controller




Motor and Controller Subtotal

  $     8,799    


$     2,700      

Battery box fans


Battery charge equalizers


Power Pulse battery maintainer


Batteries and Components Subtotal

  $     3,690    

Motor adapter - material, or purchase

$       650      

Motor mount - material


Controller mount - material


Battery box, rear - material


Battery box, front - material


Mounts and Adapters Subtotal

  $       705    

Throttle pot box

$        85      

High voltage wiring


Sheet metal for belly pan and air control


Miscellaneous Hardware, Coatings and Shipping etc.


Miscellaneous Subtotal

  $     2,874    

Materials and Parts Total

    $    16,068  

Engineering - 800 man-hours @ $75/hr*

$        85      

Technicians - 600 man-hours @ $65/hr**


Total labor

    $    99,000  

Project total

    $   115,068  

* The engineering labor rate includes overhead and profit. It is estimated for five engineers working ten hours a week for the total engineering phase.
** The technicians labor rate includes overhead and profit. It is estimated for five technicians working ten hours a week for the total fabrication and building phase.

Terms and conditions:

The proposed budget is a good faith estimate per our understanding of the project's requirements. All of the hardware prices are good for 60 days from the date of the proposal submittal. Any changes will require material cost plus 10% overhead and 15% profit. Labor for changes will be charged at $75 for engineers and $65 for technicians plus any transportation costs. One copy of drawings and documentation is included in the budget estimate. An estimate of cost for additional copies of drawings or documentation will be provided on request.

30% of the total project cost will be due at the start of the project. 30% will be due after the end of the main engineering phase, at the project presentation. 30% will be due upon delivery of the project. 10% will be due 30 days after delivery of the project to allow the costumer time to inspect and test the project.

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