Building a solar-powered off-road truck (based on a 712M Pinzgauer)

Build projects, things that guys have come up with to make a Pinz better (or worse?) and aftermarket add-ons.
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Project Ecarus
Austria
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Building a solar-powered off-road truck (based on a 712M Pinzgauer)

Post by Project Ecarus » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:54 am

Starting a separate thread for our project, as suggested by @VinceAtReal4x4s:

We wanted to let you guys know that we are currently developing a solar-electric Pinzgauer. Right now, Hannes and Francois Duez (of AVS, France, AKA tech mastermind behind the electric Pinz) are burning the midnight oil to start testing the first prototype as soon as possible. Once the base vehicle is electrified and fully kitted out, we will do a major overland test expedition. Imagine the kind of autonomy you could achieve with a solar-powered 4x4 or 6x6 (in our case), away from roads and electricity grids. That's the dream we are chasing. Is it possible? Only one way to find out ;)

You may be interested in the specs of our solar system: We have developed a rig that makes a massive 13Kw solar system portable and flexibly deployable when you are parked, but fits into the Pinz weight and size wise when rolling. Our ambition and hence the system size is to recharge the 85KWh battery pack in one single (sunny) day.

There's just over 1 Kw permanently exposed (roof and one side) for a nice trickle charge and auxiliary power, and ca. 12Kw fold-out when you set up camp. Assembling this design, testing and integrating it with other charging/BMS software is the challenge we embark on right now. The panels arrived safely last week, which is a big step in the right direction.

Of course, travelling on sunshine will mean embracing a new kind of travel and really finding out the meaning behind the old saying "the journey is the reward". We'll need to plan carefully and select our camp sites accordingly, as we'll need natural "real estate" that can accommodate our chunky solar plant.

Last but not least, in case you are into automotive history: we just posted an interview with one of the "fathers" of the Haflinger and Pinzgauer - Dr. Rudolf, who was at Steyr-Puch 1955-1987 and was key to the development of both of these legends, as well as the G. (In fact, one of the first drawings of the Haflinger was his!) Yes, the gentlemen is still alive and kicking at 92, and lives not far from us here in the home of Steyr-Puch in Austria.) Spoiler alert: he is pro EVs ;)

You can check out the interview here: https://projectecarus.com/blog/meeting-mr-pinzgauer

I'm attaching pics of the test vehicle and some working designs and will keep this thread updated as progress continues. For more regular updates, you can check out our website at www.projectecarus.com and/or subscribe to our newsletter here: https://projectecarus.com/signup.

That's it for now, more to come. Please let us know what you think of Project Ecarus.

All the best,

Lisa & Hannes

PS: Please note that there are two vehicles on the pics – there's ECARUS, our yellow 712 (6x6), and there is a 710 (4x4), the test vehicle, used to configure the electric motor, battery and management system. This helps us make sure the kit will work seamlessly as a "plug and play" system in other Pinzis and also allows us to work on ECARUS' expedition shelter and foldable solar system while Francois works on the electric drive.

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5_ECARUS_Prototype_FRONT.png
5_ECARUS_Prototype_FRONT.png (541.92 KiB) Viewed 349 times

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VinceAtReal4x4s
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Re: Building a solar-powered off-road truck (based on a 712M Pinzgauer)

Post by VinceAtReal4x4s » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:48 pm

Wow your page has some great photos and interview information on it! Everyone should go to it and take a look. I haven't seen some of that before.

What kind of range are you seeing with the prototype? The conversions I've seen on other cars so far seem to hit an average 125 mile (200km) mark. Why is this do you think? Maybe I'm being naive but with the SUV/Pick-up, Pinz and Syncro/Vanagon conversions, it looks like you have the option to easily carry double or more the amount of batteries compared to the common car conversions. Can't you simply add as many batteries as can be carried? The Pinz has a lot of weight capacity and room for such a small vehicle so why not double it up, or triple it? A 712 could fit so much more. Could you build sort of a false floor in the back, made of batteries, as an additional "tank"? A battery pack that raises the floor maybe 10cm so it still usable as the floor?

I think you have to hit 300 mile ranges for any 4x4 electric to start being attractive to the general market. For me, I could use that range practically, even going deep into the USA's SW desert region because I could drive there easily on the initial charge from home, then "fuel up" at one of several charging stations that are popping up in many small towns, mostly being pushed by Tesla. Of course with your solar set-up, you could do much more remote 3rd world trips, etc. but I'm curious to see how much weight you are dealing with and if you have cargo room left over for all the things you need to carry on those trips.
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Project Ecarus
Austria
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:44 pm
Contact:

Re: Building a solar-powered off-road truck (based on a 712M Pinzgauer)

Post by Project Ecarus » Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:27 am

You're exactly right, hitting a range of over 300 miles would be a game-changer. The reason most EV conversions hover around the 200-mile marker in terms of range is that at some point the weight of any additional batteries actually reduces the efficiency and performance of the car IE carrying the weight of extra batteries costs too much energy. And since we need to also fit a cabin and a solar system onto the truck, we need to leave room for those elements, too. We'll have sleeping berths for 3, a kitchen, a bathroom, a seating area plus the solar panels and a lot of other equipment, so, as you can imagine, the whole thing takes some thought.

The configuration we've arrived at now leaves us with enough range to travel overland (at a different pace and with more forward planning than usual) but also retains and in some areas even boosts the Pinzgauer's off-road performance. We're trying to keep as much of the original vehicle intact but are also looking forward to having instant torque, more horsepower and easier handling. It'll also be interesting to see how electrification affects overall noise levels. It won't be silent, of course, but we're hoping for a serious reduction. The prototype isn't rolling just yet, but the countdown is on and we'll know more very soon.

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