Learning about Electric Vehicles – Conditioning and Power

We have now had our first allocation of Stealth Night Hawk Electric Utility Vehicles for three weeks.  We are trying to learn all we can about them before putting any in the hands of customers.

The first thing we have learned about is “Battery Conditioning” or “Battery Formatting.” It turns out that if a battery is charged about 25% at least 15 times, it gains more power and life.  A brand new battery that has not been conditioned will often have only 75% of the capacity of a  conditioned battery.  That means you will get a higher top end speed and more time of operation out of a battery that has been cycled at least 15 times.

Lead-Acid batteries are not like batteries on your cell phone.  They should never be run down to completely dead.  They do best when charged often.  Think of the battery in your car or truck.  It is charged by the alternator every time the engine is run.  similarly, your battery will work better and longer if you charge it each time it has used 15% or more of a charge.  The best thing to do is just to park it where it can be plugged in every day (or night).

The second thing we learned is the power of electric motors versus gas and diesel engines.  The Night Hawk’s 30 horsepower electric motor develops 140 foot pounds of torque.  For comparison, the largest John Deere Diesel Gator (with a 30 horse engine) develops about 40 foot pounds of torque.  Until we put a Night Hawk into use at local nurseries for testing, we didn’t really understand what that meant.  The nurseries used the Night Hawk to pull 3 wagons carrying 50 – 5 gallon trees each or about 4500 pounds.  All day long they hauled trees between different areas of the nurseries.  Without exception, the operators were ‘amazed’ at the power of the Night Hawk.  We shouldn’t be.  Power is the reason electric motors are used on locomotive engines that haul freight and on huge mine vehicles that haul tons of material.  In fact, the crawler transporter vehicle that moves rockets to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral is electric powered, all 6,000,000 pounds of it (not counting the load).

To be sure, we have been surprised at how much more powerful the Night Hawk is than any other side-by-side UTV like the Mule, Gator, RTV, etc.

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