We’ve all seen the electric cars that are starting to become more common on the highways and city streets. We are talking about the Nissan Leafs, Ford Focuses, the Teslas, and other hybrids or small smart cars. These simple, front-wheel drive cars are built for mileage and little else. So electric cars are only really good for driving around town to do errands and get groceries right? Not exactly.
Rich Rudman, the owner of Manzanita Micro out of Kingston, Washington, has a passion for two things: electronic vehicles and off-roading. As an engineer by profession and an inventor by character, Rich put together an impressive 4×4 1984 Toyota extra-cab pickup, that is all electric and powered by the same batteries used in the grocery-getting Nissan Leaf we mentioned earlier. He proves that an electric car can be more than a commuter.
Rich has also built electric hydroplanes, bikes, and quads — he is far from an amateur when it comes to electric vehicles. His Toyota is a prime example of what passion and experience can do. He gave us a short ride to show off the Toyota’s crawling capabilities and we had to find out more about what’s powering this unusual electric beast.
“No cam, no heads, no carb,” Rich explained. “No anything gas or fuel related.” Instead, this truck is powered by an Advanced 8-inch DC motor and cooled with a 2000cfm fan that Rich says is “not enough.” He used an adapter plate and motor coupler that mounts the electric motor directly to the stock 1984 Toyota transmission.
The main speed controller is one of his own designs: a Manzanita Micro Zilla 2k unit that is a 2000 amp DC speed controller. “2000 amps on the 8-incher makes over 400 lb-ft of torque at zero rpms,” Rich told us. The battery pack powering the whole system is made up of half of a Leaf battery pack. The battery pack puts out 200 volts at 12 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of stored energy. They are planning on tripling that to get 36 kWh. “The single wide pack is good for 12 kWh, or about 25 miles,” Rich detailed. “The single will give you about two hours of wheeling in low-range. The triple pack would get three times that.”
On top of the electric goodies this truck is packing, it also features Ruff Stuff four-link rear suspension and 37×14 Interco Iroks. The interior is the worn out stock equipment and the paint is a recent coat of flat black. Future upgrades include a light bar, a winch, and an aluminum exoskeleton. “We will see what I find or if I get sponsored,” Rich said.
Instead of a fuel gauge, Rich views his energy level on a Manzanita Micro RBD digital fuel gauge. This gauge shows the state of charge for the main battery pack. It’s also interesting to take 4×4 test ride and hear the motor almost silently pull the truck up over hills and straight through whatever it encounters.
Rich hopes to promote an idea of his that he calls “green-wheeling.” This concept’s basic idea would have people take their 4×4 electric vehicles out for the weekend with some solar panels for “free” and “environmentally friendly” off-roading!
What do you think of this unusual 4×4? Would you consider using an electric engine in your all-terrain vehicle? Are you already running a setup like this? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.