The Solectria Sunrise

The Sunrise EV2 Project Homepage

Welcome! We are a group of dedicated electric vehicle enthusiasts whose goal is to create an affordable, high performance electric kit car that anyone of modest skill can assemble. The Sunrise EV2 is a four-passenger pure electric sports sedan, designed to meet all the safety, performance, and comfort requirements of a modern state-of-the-art automobile.

The original Sunrise was designed by Solectria Corp. using the Hypercar principles of Amory Lovins. It achieved remarkable efficiency and range, through the use of lightweight construction, innovative design, and superb aerodynamics. Unfortunately, only a handful were produced.

The Sunrise EV2 project began with the purchase of the last unfinished Sunrise from Solectria CEO James Worden. It is being redesigned as a kit car, along the lines followed by manufacturers of light plane kits for the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). The steps are:

  1. Build a working prototype, that interested parties can see and drive. Test the design and verify performance.
  2. Publish plans, sufficient to build the entire car from scratch, just as we are doing now.
  3. Provide key components produced from our molds and tooling, such as the fiberglass body and welded chassis parts, to simplify construction.
  4. Produce parts kits and subassemblies. For example, all the major parts needed to build the wiring harness, body hardware, rear subframe, etc.
  5. Offer a complete car kit. Combined with generic parts purchased new and those from a donor vehicle, anyone who can handle a screwdriver and wrench could put it together.
  6. Someday, perhaps a fully assembled production automobile. I doubt we will get to this point for years, due to the costly regulatory requirements.

Our goal is to make the Sunrise EV2 as modular and open source as possible; like a PC clone, where many different parts can be used, from many different vendors. We'll provide the basic "box". Builders can then use any motor, controller, batteries, charger, interior, and instrumentation they like. Depending on your budget and performance requirements, your Sunrise can be AC or DC, lead-acid or lithium batteries, etc.

We look forward to having a community of Sunrise EV2 builders, where members can exchange ideas, buy/sell/trade parts, and assist others in building their cars. Check this website out occasionally to see how we're doing.


Spring finally came to Minnesota. I was able to make molds from the donor car's rear wheel wells, and make parts from these molds. These are still rough, and need some finishing work. But the insides are smooth, and they precisely reproduce the mounting locations for the rear suspension subframe, springs, and shock absorbers.

Next, on to the front wheel wells. It will be the same process: Smooth the inside of the donor car's wheel wells, and make fiberglass molds from them. The molds will be used to make fender wells for the prototype, and become part of the production chassis mold.

And, I broke down and bought a gas furnace for the garage. It's winter again (still?) in Minnesota; but that won't stop me now!

Other recent updates:

The Membership Card and other 1802 Projects:

Lee's EVs

In this section, I'll be regularly posting EV tips and techniques to save you money, find parts, measure performance, and improve your EV. As new ones appear, the old ones will move to the Lee's EVs page. Purchases contribute to the Sunrise EV2 Project. If you like what you see and want me to write more of them, please click the "donate" button below. :-)

General Electric EV-1 SCR Motor Controller

SCR Motor Controllers -- The mighty GE EV-1

An interesting new power semiconductor came along in the 1970's -- the SCR (Silicon Controlled Rectifier). An SCR is a true on/off switch, with no linear region like transistors. When off, it's an open circuit; it does not conduct current for either polarity voltage. When on, it acts like a normal diode; it passes current in one direction, and blocks current in the other direction. SCRs are relatively inexpensive, and available in stupendous sizes that can switch thousands of amps and thousands of volts. The on-state voltage is low (about 1.5 volts) so they are efficient and produce little heat. They switch in a couple microseconds; much faster than power transistors at the time.

SCRs are easy to turn on; all it takes is a microsecond pulse on the gate of about 1 volt at 100ma. But there's a problem: Once on, it stays on! The gate can no longer turn it off. It will remain on until a) the voltage across it reverses, or b) the current through it falls to zero. That's no problem in an AC circuit -- it will turn off at the next zero-crossing of the AC line. SCRs are therefore widely used in AC powered light dimmers, battery chargers, and motor speed controls.

On DC, you need a special commutation circuit to turn the SCR off. One of the most popular of these is the Jones Chopper; a PWM motor controller built with SCRs. This circuit was used in many products, including the famous General Electric EV-1 series of electric vehicle motor controller. Many thousands of EV-1's were built, ranging from the little EV-1A for golf cart size vehicles up to the mighty EV-1D that could handle up to 144v and 1000 amps. EV-1 controllers are built like battleships, and very reliable. They were sold from the mid 1970's well into the 1990's, and it's not uncommon to find them still working today (and available on eBay). The photo shows my GE EV-1B, which is set up for 24-84v and 350 amps.

EV-1's were made in hundreds of different configurations, but they all tend to look pretty much like this one. Most are built on a 3/8" to 3/4" thick slab of aluminum called a "panel". The high power parts are encapsulated in massive black bakelite cases, with big screw terminals. These are wired together with bolted bus bars. You fix these controllers with a wrench, not a soldering iron!

The control logic is on a plug-in PC board, housed in a black plastic box called an "oscillator card" in EV-1 documentation. There are two rows of connectors on top (left pins L1-L10, and right pins R1-R10). These go to external wiring such as power, ground, control switches, etc. Flip two metal tabs on each side, and the card hinges up to reveal another connector with the wires to the "panel". Unplug this connector, and the card comes off. This makes servicing simple.

There are dozens of different oscillator cards, identified by a 3-character code. The code code identifies the card's features and the range of pack voltages it supports. Interestingly, to change the voltage of an EV-1, just install an appropriate oscillator card -- the panel mounted parts are good for any voltage. The cards I know of are:

There is also a little door; under it is a row of trimpots to adjust creep speed, current ramp-up rate, current limit, bypass contactor pickup and turn-off points, plug braking, field weakening pickup and dropout.

The EV-1 has the logic and safety interlocks to control the motor's forward, reverse, braking, field weakening, and full-on bypass contactors. However, external power transistors are needed to actually drive the contactor coils (see schematic). Note that the contactor coils must match the pack voltage.

Electric Vehicles in the News

Donations for the Sunrise EV2 Project

Interested? Want to get involved? There are several ways you can help.

Contact us: Questions or comments? Corrections or problems with this web site? Contact Lee A. Hart by phone at (320) 656-9574, by email, or by mail at 814 8th Ave N, Sartell MN 56377-2240.

Design: Producing the best possible EV requires the best possible minds. The Sunrise EV2 development team has over 100 years of combined EV experience, but we are still learning and improving as we go. If you have ideas for improvements, can help with vehicle design, construction, or testing; or have skills you think we can use, please contact us!

Labor: The Sunrise EV2 prototype is being assembled at our shop in Sartell MN. At present, we are building our prototype composite body and the molds to produce it. It's very labor intensive, so if you're in the area and have some time, please contact us about a visit. See and help build the prototype, and in the process learn how to build your own Sunrise EV2.

Components: Most of the parts and materials to build the Sunrise are being donated by our development team or interested individuals. Our motor, controller, and innumerable tools and shop time have been provided, but there is alway more. Do you have any EV related parts that could be of use? Contact us and see!

Donations: Developing a car is an expensive project. The project is entirely funded by our development team and donations from interested individuals and businesses. Donations will be credited toward future purchases of Sunrise EV2 products. Contributors are also given special attention by members of the EV2 team! Send donations to the Sunrise EV2 Project c/o Lee A. Hart at the above address. To contribute using Mastercard Visa or Paypal, use the "Donate" button below. Every penny helps!

Steven Taylor's Solectria Sunrise

The Sunrise EV2 Project, copyright 2007-2014 by Lee A. Hart. Website created 2/4/2008 by admin. Last update 12/25/2014 by Lee A. Hart
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