Jeep M38 Military 4x4 Goes Greener: The
(Photos by Mike and Ellen
Mike Picard is an avid Jeep enthusiast. He has worked with vintage Jeep
iron for 35 years. Interested in building an electric vehicle, Mike found a classic 1952 M38 Willys military model
in rough condition. He set out to transform that Jeep into a "green", electrified
The story began in 2008, when fuel prices went through the
Mike's words, "In the summer of 2008, when diesel fuel prices hit $5 a gallon, I decided it was time to make myself
an electric commuter car. Rebuilding old Willys Jeep 4x4s as a hobby influenced my vehicle choice. Everybody
else on the internet is converting Volkswagens, mini-pickups and Porsches, and I decided to do something
very different...The Willys Jeep is a very good candidate for an electric conversion with one exception:
While these are beautiful machines, they have the aerodynamics of a brick! Approaching highway speeds, this has a
big influence on the size of the battery pack and the size of the motor needed for a Willys
for Mike's conversion is a 1952 Willys M38 military Jeep. This 1/4-ton rated truck came with all the markings of a
well-worn Colorado 4x4. Mike had his work cut out!
The WarP 11
DC motor puts out enough torque to power the vehicle through an original Willys transmission and transfer case.
Torque output of the motor is less than the L134 four-cylinder gas engine but still adequate for moving and
operating the Jeep through its original geartrain. The charge range and the size of the battery packs
For those unfamiliar with electric vehicle motor dynamics, the WarP 11
is a popular conversion choice. Mike tried a smaller motor but realized that the combined weight of the Jeep and
the weighty battery packs demanded more torque.
Performance figures and details on popular NetGain Motors can be found at EV Source and other outlets
WarP 11 motor and a custom adapter plate mate with the stock Jeep flywheel and familiar vintage clutch assembly.
The system drives through the clutch in normal fashion.
operational, the motor's accessories include a thermal switch and two fans to keep high-amperage heat in check.
Note that the electric motor requires a torque-resisting forward support member, much like an internal combustion
engine. The rear of the motor is supported with a stock Jeep bellhousing, transmission and transfer case, just like
the original M38 Jeep!
Electrics are busy and involve high amperage circuits.
Electricity at this amperage requires careful routing, switching and monitoring. Deep cycle battery packs
weigh 1,500 pounds, offset a bit by eliminating the L-head 134 four-cylinder
has attracted considerable attention, including media coverage at Electric Vehicle TV. Mike Picard's hard
work and unique vehicle choice has paid off. This converted M38 Willys is currently one of
ten finalists out of 955 contestants in an international EV contest.
contest winner will upgrade his or her EV to the next level—under full television coverage! Mike has
plenty of ideas on taking the Willys to the next level, including LiFePO batteries that will extend the
driving range, add noticeable performance and reduce battery weight by 2/3rds!
Note: Visit the Electric
Vehicle TV website for details on Mike Picard's project and plans if he wins the
contest. Click here for access to Mike's EVTV profile. Willys and Jeep fans, here's your
chance to vote for Mike's electric vehicle project!
Mike has chronicled the project at the
Electro-Willys website. You can follow project plans, new developments, test results and improvements made
along the way. Interested in pursuing an
electric vehicle conversion? Mike has done R&D and shares it. Click here to reach the Electro-Willys website!