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Ampare Electric Car Conversion Kit Cover

In the rapidly evolving landscape of electric vehicles (EVs), Ampere EV stands out as a trailblazer, driven by innovation and a commitment to simplifying the conversion process.

At the forefront of this revolution is Lawson Sumner, the Chief Engineer behind Ampere EV’s groundbreaking Atom Drive System.

In this exclusive interview with Automotive Industries, Sumner sheds light on the system’s modularity, compatibility, safety features, and the future developments that will further reshape the electric vehicle conversion market.

Modularity for seamless integration

The Atom Drive System takes a unique ground-up approach, tailoring its EV drivetrains specifically for the conversion market.

Sumner explains that converting combustion engine vehicles demands a different set of considerations than manufacturing new EVs. Ampere EV addresses this challenge through a modular design, utilizing standardized components.

This modularity allows enthusiasts and conversion companies to select different battery pack sizes, motors, and accessories, streamlining the integration process and significantly reducing development time and costs.

Innovation in battery design

E.C.D Automotive Design specializes in low-volume restoration of British classics (including the E-Type Jaguar on our cover).

The Atom Drive Battery Module boasts a cell-to-pack design, a departure from traditional submodule configurations. Sumner emphasizes how this innovation simplifies installation while enhancing energy density and thermal efficiency.

By assembling cells directly within the pack, the Atom Drive System achieves a compact design crucial for retrofitting older, smaller vehicles with larger batteries, extending their range and overall performance.

“There are companies out there trying to invent the mouse trap and cobble together parts or hire engineers – but there’s only so much bandwidth……we are the only company in the U.S. with a plug-and-play deliverable system. Matt White, CEO of Ampere EV

Thermal performance for longevity

Sumner delves into the critical role of heat management in ensuring battery health. The Atom Drive Battery Module employs an asymmetric regression cooling plate, designed through computational fluid dynamics optimization.

This technology ensures even cooling or heating throughout the battery pack, maintaining peak performance in diverse conditions and extending the battery life of converted vehicles.

Safety measures for peace of mind

Safety is paramount for Ampere EV, and the Atom Drive System reflects this commitment.

The system incorporates UL94 V-0 or better components, TouchSafe Connections, and integrated contactors. Sumner highlights these features, emphasizing the peace of mind they bring to installers and end-users alike, ensuring the vehicle remains in a safe condition in any scenario.

In-house development for control and customization

Ampere EV’s in-house development approach sets it apart, giving the company full control over the product’s direction. Sumner illustrates how this strategy allows Ampere EV to prioritize customization, performance, and reliability in the Atom Drive System, delivering a plug-and-play solution with modern features expected from new cars.

Battery management system for optimal performance

Sumner details the integration of a custom Battery Management System (BMS) into each module, enhancing real-time communication with the Vehicle Control Unit (VCU).

This integration ensures optimal performance, longevity, and safety of the battery pack by monitoring individual cell health and enabling dynamic adjustments based on real-time information.

North American charging standard ports integration

Ampere EV takes a forward-thinking step by integrating North American Charging Standard Ports, contributing to hassle-free charging and a better user experience.

Sumner explains that standardizing charging ports across EVs ensures interoperability, fostering a more convenient and efficient charging infra

structure.

Unique selling proposition for commercial fleets

The Atom Drive System emerges as an ideal solution for commercial fleets aiming to electrify. Sumner highlights the system’s readiness, installer support, and user-friendly operation as key advantages. With no development investment needed, the Atom Drive System simplifies fleet electrification, offering a seamless transition to clean, efficient electric vehicles.

Future developments: pioneering the next era

As the interview concludes (full text below), Sumner provides a glimpse into Ampere EV’s future developments.

These include NACS support, sub-ambient battery cooling, OBD2 diagnostics, new motor options, remote telemetry, and Over-The-Air updates. Ampere EV remains dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in EV conversions, promising continuous improvements in technology, compatibility, and innovative solutions for the evolving electric vehicle market.

Automotive Industries (AI) interview with Lawson Sumner, Chief Engineer at Ampere EV.

Automotive Industries: Modularity and compatibility: The Atom Drive System emphasizes modularity for EV conversion. How does Ampere EV ensure that its modular components seamlessly integrate with a wide range of vehicles, providing a plug-and-play solution for enthusiasts and conversion companies?

Lawson Sumner Chief Engineer at Ampere EV

Sumner: The Atom Drive System is unique in its approach by being one of the only ground-up EV drivetrains designed specifically for the conversion market.

The needs of converting combustion engine vehicles to electric are different than building a new production electric vehicle.

Space constraints are tighter, and it is required that the drivetrain interfaces with at least some of the original vehicle components.

The Atom Drive system approaches this through a modular design. Using standardized parts, different battery pack sizes, different motors, and various accessories can be selected to configure the system for a specific platform.

Every vehicle can leverage the same engineering and testing effort that goes into the standardized components, significantly reducing the installation effort, development time, and costs of converting a vehicle.

AI: Innovation in battery design: The Atom Drive Battery Module boasts a cell-to-pack design for increased energy density and thermal efficiency. Could you elaborate on how this innovative design not only simplifies installation but also enhances the overall performance and safety of the EV conversion?

Sumner: Traditionally, EV battery packs have had battery cells configured into submodules before being assembled into a final battery pack.

While this can simplify manufacturing processes, it adds additional parts, weight, and volume to a battery pack design.

The Atom Drive Battery Module utilizes an innovative cell-to-pack design which means the cells are assembled directly within the pack without additional structure or grouping.

This is achieved by utilizing some of the market’s most innovative adhesive products, thermal barriers, and assembly techniques.

Southfield Classics represents the direction of 21st century Hot Rodding, recently shifting to volume restoration and conversion of classic vehicles. They have embraced EV conversions and have essentially recreated themselves as a manufacturer. After trying different EV conversion systems, Southfield chose Ampere’s Atom Drive System for all of its conversions, like this classic 1950 Chevy 3100 pickup pictured, dubbed the SC31T.

The end result is a battery pack that is extremely compact, which is important when trying to fit the largest battery possible into older, smaller vehicles.

AI: Thermal performance: Heat management is critical for battery health. How does the asymmetric regression cooling plate and computational fluid dynamics optimization contribute to maintaining optimal temperatures within the Atom Drive Battery Module, ensuring longevity and reliability?

Sumner: Like people, batteries only operate well within a very narrow temperature range. This means that for peak performance in all conditions, battery temperatures must be closely monitored and regulated.

Inside every Atom Drive Battery Module is Ampere EV’s in-house designed asymmetric regression cooling plate.

This plate was designed using CFD flow optimization to blend the two most common cooling plate designs, S-channel and “perforations”, to create an efficient design that can cool or heat battery cells evenly throughout the battery pack.

Having this capability allows for the battery pack to maintain peak performance in a wide range of conditions and extends the battery life of the vehicle by keeping the battery cells in their ideal temperature range.

AI: Safety measures: Safety is a top priority, and the Atom Drive System incorporates UL94 V-0 or better components and TouchSafe Connections. Can you discuss how these features, along with integrated contactors, make the Atom Drive Battery Module one of the safest options for both installers and end-users?

Sumner: Safety, or the lack of safety, in the conversion market several years ago was one of the defining problems the lead to the creation of Ampere EV.

Our goal was to bring the safety features present in OEM-built electric vehicles to the conversion market. These features include UL94-V0 fire-resistant components, high voltage interlock monitoring on HV connections, and automated system-level diagnostics and shutdown.

We also designed installer-specific safety features such as our TouchSafe connection system for the battery modules that disconnects power from the battery module ports when the system is not turned on and active.

Many of these safety features go unnoticed in the background, and most customers may not even know they all exist, but the peace of mind that the vehicle will remain in a safe condition in any scenario is hard to put a price on.

AI: In-house development: Ampere EV develops key components like battery modules, high voltage switching components, and vehicle software in-house. How does this in-house approach contribute to the customization, performance, and reliability of the Atom Drive System?

Sumner: The biggest benefit of in-house design is that it allows Ampere EV to have full control of the development direction of the product. For instance, the Atom Drive Battery Module could have been built using many more off the shelf components.

Perhaps utilizing a standard battery submodule, cooling plate, and battery management system.

Ampere EV Chief Engineer Lawson Sumner is all smiles in the Ampere EV DeLorean, one of the company’s in-house development vehicles.

This approach, however, would’ve resulted in a product that lacked all the innovations that made it perfect for the conversion market.

The same goes for our VCU software. Software is a huge part of modern vehicles and plays an important role in making all the vehicle systems operate together.

Ampere EV prioritized software development so that every Atom Drive-equipped vehicle is plug-and-play for installers and has all the modern features you’d expect from a new car such as drive modes, cruise control, HVAC controls, charging settings, and more.

AI: Battery management system (BMS): The custom BMS plays a crucial role in monitoring individual cell health. How does the integration of BMS into each module enhance real-time communication with the Vehicle Control Unit (VCU), ensuring optimal performance, longevity, and safety of the battery pack?

Sumner: The BMS is responsible for collecting information such as battery cell voltage and temperature. This information is critical to ensuring the safe operation of the vehicle.

Ampere EV integrates our in-house BMS into every battery module so that it is assembled and fully tested before arriving at the customer.

This was a giant departure from previous EV conversion systems that required the customer manually wire over a hundred cell voltage tap wires and temperature sensors between their BMS and battery pack.

Having this BMS in each battery allows the VCU to see real-time information on the condition of every battery cell.

Using this information, the VCU can take action to manage battery temperatures or manage charge/discharge rates on the fly so that you are always able to extract the maximum performance from the battery while keeping it within the proper operating conditions.

AI: North American charging standard ports integration: Ampere EV is the first to integrate North American Charging Standard Ports with an aftermarket conversion system. How does this contribute to hassle-free charging for converted vehicles and enhance the overall user experience?

Sumner: The movement to NACS, also known as the Tesla plug, has been a swift and powerful change sweeping the US EV market in 2023.

Previously, every US automaker besides Tesla had adopted the J1772 port for AC charging and the CCS1 port for DC fast charging.

This led to a split ecosystem where the highest volume EV manufacturer and charging infrastructure installer was operating on a standard that was incompatible with everyone else.

Moving forward, having every EV on the same port standard will allow for better interoperability. Imagine pulling up to a gas station just to find ou

From classic pickups to iconic Porsches, the modular design of Ampere EV’s Atom Drive System provides a solution for converting an ICE vehicle to electric propulsion. EV conversion specialists The Current Exchange chose the Atom Drive System to convert this 1989 Porsche 911 to electric power after trying a different manufacturer’s EV system without success.

t that your car uses a different nozzle type, that would be crazy!

This move was something that made sense for the whole market, and Ampere EV is dedicated to making sure that we help move it in this direction.

AI: Unique selling proposition for commercial fleets: The Atom Drive System is positioned as an ideal solution for converting commercial fleets to comply with local emissions standards. What unique advantages does Ampere EV offer to businesses looking to electrify their fleets compared to other conversion options?

Sumner: Fleet conversions are a perfect application for the Atom Drive System.

One big differentiator of the Atom Drive System is that there is no development investment needed to create the conversion kit.

Our modular system can fit almost every platform, so the product is ready-to-ship and works out of the box. The system also comes with extensive installer documentation and support so that any fleet could be at ease knowing they have help when they need it to make sure the conversion process proceeds smoothly.

Finally, the Atom Drive System has been designed such that the operators do not need any special training to operate the vehicle. It’s intuitive and simple to operate for both vehicle drivers and fleet maintenance personnel.

AI: Future developments: As the EV industry rapidly evolves, what future developments can we expect from Ampere EV in terms of technology enhancements, expanded compatibility, and perhaps new solutions for the electric vehicle conversion market?

Sumner: Ampere EV is constantly trying to raise the bar of what’s possible in the EV conversion space.

Recently, we announced several new features that just launched or are coming in 2024 such as NACS support, sub-ambient battery cooling, OBD2 diagnostics, and several new motor options.

Looking forward, we are continuously improving our vehicle software and are hoping to roll out some huge new features such as remote telemetry and Over-The-Air updates.

We are also developing hardware improvements that will elevate our battery packs, junction boxes, and BMS products to the next level.

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