Tesla Electric Citroen H Van

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【Summary】Summary: Phil Ward, a Citroen enthusiast, is restoring and electrifying his 1969 Citroen H van using a Tesla Model 3 electric motor. Ward has spent the past two years rebuilding the van and plans to install a Tesla battery for a range of about 400 km. He chose Tesla due to its superior user interface and range compared to other electric vehicles available in Australia. Ward's wife is supportive of the project, and he hopes to finish the conversion in a few years.

FutureCar Staff    Nov 05, 2023 10:18 PM PT
Tesla Electric Citroen H Van

Phil Ward, a passionate Citroen enthusiast, is currently restoring and electrifying his 1969 Citroen H van in his Sunshine Coast hinterland workshop. Having been fascinated by Citroens since childhood, Phil has owned and driven various models throughout his life. However, his white Tesla Model 3 is the first non-Citroen car he has purchased. Despite the expenses of renovating the van, Phil remains dedicated to his project.

Over the past two years, Phil has meticulously stripped down and rebuilt the van in his garage. He even went as far as reupholstering the leather seats. Positioned behind his Tesla Model 3 and adjacent to a Tesla battery, the van offers a stunning view of Mt Cooroy and the ocean. Phil, a designer with a keen eye for quality, is not only a skilled mechanic and auto electrical technician but also a jewelry maker.

Phil shares the history of his beloved van, which he originally bought in 1979. The van had already traveled the world before arriving in Australia. After restoring and driving it for 15 years, he sold it to a neighbor who neglected its use, leaving it parked in their driveway for nearly three decades. Unable to bear the sight of its deterioration, Phil persisted until the neighbor agreed to sell it back to him. He then had the van shipped to Queensland from Adelaide.

During the restoration process, sandblasting revealed extensive rust in every panel of the van. Phil had to order new panels from Germany since the country is renowned for its DIY and restoration culture. He explains that the side panels of the H van were inspired by the design of "Luftwaffe" Junkers airplanes, known for their strength and lightness.

Phil is now ready to install his electric motor, salvaged from a wrecked 2021 Tesla Model 3 with low mileage. He is currently searching for a suitable charging system and a Tesla battery to power the van. Once the battery is installed, the project will be near completion. Phil plans to achieve a range of approximately 400 km, acknowledging that the H van's square and non-aerodynamic shape will make it an ideal camper.

In the next 12 months, Phil and his wife Wendy intend to move closer to the coast. Phil hopes to have the subframe installed to facilitate the van's transportation. He will require a spacious workshop at their new location. The most challenging part of the process, according to Phil, was orienting the Tesla motor in the frame, as it had to be installed backward. After an unsuccessful Google search, he disassembled the motor and reconfigured it to trick it into functioning in reverse. Despite the extensive work involved, Phil's love for Citroens, the H van, and electric vehicles keeps him motivated.

Phil's passion for design and dismantling objects began at the age of 8 when he fell in love with the shape of the Citroen DS and purchased a model car. His enthusiasm even led his father to acquire the local Citroen dealership, allowing Phil to immerse himself in his favorite car. He admires Citroen's combination of technological advancements and creative designs, drawing parallels between the early DS models and Tesla vehicles.

When asked why he chose a Tesla Model 3 over an electric Citroen, Phil explains that electric Citroens are not yet available in Australia, and he couldn't wait. He also believes that Tesla offers superior user interfaces and range compared to other electric vehicles on the market. Although Phil had considered converting one of his seven Citroens to electric, he decided against it due to their exceptional condition. However, the extensively rusty state of the H van allowed him the freedom to modify it as he pleased.

During the visit to Phil's workshop, the deconstructed H van was on display, consisting of the body shell, chassis (the only remaining original part), and the Tesla motor with a foot pedal for testing purposes. Phil admits that he is improvising as he goes along with the project. The H van, originally a delivery vehicle, possesses a lightweight and sturdy construction, making it suitable for modernization with an electric motor, power brakes, and electric power steering.

Phil sourced the T2-C controller for the motor from EV Controls in Canada, with assistance from the Western Australian distributor Lithium Power. EV Controls provided valuable support during the setup process, despite the time zone differences. The H van is primarily controlled through an app on an iPad.

Addressing the subject of time commitment and Wendy's opinion on the project, Phil reveals that his wife is fully supportive and shares his passion for Citroens. Their mutual interests extend beyond cars and encompass environmental conservation. Although it may take several years for the project to reach completion, a return visit to witness the progress is already planned.

Please note that I have previously covered restoration projects.

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