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Homemade EV to beat Tesla record

Lundgren and Garcia's homemade Phoenix EV

Recycled EV dubbed “The Phoenix” is predicted to beat Tesla’s hypermiling record

As with many things in the EV sector, the current record for EV miles driven on a single charge is held by Tesla. This summer a modified Model S P100D went almost 700 miles without needing to be recharged.

While pretty impressive, that record may soon change hands.

The Phoenix is a homemade electric car made by hobbyists Eric Ludgren and Jehu Garcia. Ludgren is the owner of Waste Recycling and Disposal Company IT Asset Partners and Garcia is a youtuber, making videos where he turns old cars into electric vehicles and making DIY guides. The pair intend to beat the record of 700 miles by almost double with their homemade car, The Phoenix, made from recyclable materials.

“If we can do this, anybody can do this,” said Lundgren. “We’re not some mad scientists in a lab. We’re just trying to push this envelope to the max.”

The two men have created a car which, according to Ludgren and Garcia has already succeeded in breaking the standing record.

So-called hypermiling is made possible by driving the car at low speeds to optimise the battery conditions. The attempt made in the Model achieved 669.8 miles, but Ludgren and Garcia claim the Phoenix has already reached 748 miles in similar conditions.

However, they estimate that the car can go a further 550 miles, 1300 miles altogether, leaving the Tesla record a distant memory. The pair intend to make the attempt in the next few months.

Going the distance

The car reportedly cost Ludgren and Garcia a reasonable $13,800 – only a fraction of the cost of the Model S – and took the hobbyists only 35 days to build. They used materials that were to hand, but some items they have used date back over five years.

“The thing is not about making the best possible car,” Garcia admitted. “It’s really to show the best value in recycled technology.”

The frame of the car is a 1997 BMW 528i they bought for US$900. The industrial motor is typically used in mining equipment. They added some used lithium-ion 18650 cells, a laptop, and electric car batteries together totalling 130 kWh. Using all of these materials and more, Ludgren and Garcia have managed to create a car which is made up of 90% recycled materials.

Eric Langden explained the process: “The batteries all came from cable boxes for your home TV that had little 18650 batteries in them. 2,800 milliamp, 18650 batteries. We used those. Then we used laptop batteries from a well-known brand that I called up and said, ‘Hey, do you mind if I use your laptop batteries?’ Then we used EV batteries that the EV industry said ‘Nope. They’re dead.’”

“What we found was, when you open up the pack, 80% of the actual batteries are perfectly working. They’re perfect. The problem is that once over 20% degradation occurs in the pack, in America we say it’s trash. We aggregated all these batteries and made this giant 130-kilowatt power battery pack.”

Certainly, even if their record attempt fails, the Phoenix highlights the considerable possibilities of what can be achieved through recycling, and not just in terms of second-life EV technology. For now though we will be keeping an eye on the Phoenix to see if it really can go the distance.

You can learn more in a video posted by filmmaker Jehu who is documenting the attempt – but judging by the early footage, it’s entirely possible that The Phoenix can rise to the challenge.


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