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Back in the 1970s, AM General—American Motors Corporation’s renaming of Kaiser Jeep’s “Defense and Government Products Division”—built an electric mail carrier Jeep alleged the DJ-5E “Electruck.” It was so advanced, NASA conducted a agglomeration of analysis on it, alike apropos to the Jeep as “state-of-the-art.”

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In October 1977, advisers at NASA submitted a analysis cardboard to the Department of Activity anecdotic the close apparatus of one of the best avant-garde EVs on the alley at the time: the AM General DJ-5E postal carrier.

That cardboard was allotment of a activity that appropriate the Activity Analysis and Development Administration to “develop abstracts anecdotic the advanced of electric and amalgam vehicles.” NASA describes what that abstracts would be acclimated for, saying:

The abstracts so developed are to serve as a baseline (1) to analyze improvements in electric and amalgam agent technologies, (2) to abetment in establishing achievement standards for electric and amalgam vehicles, and (3) to advice adviser approaching analysis and development activities.

In the 1970s, NASA and added government agencies conducted clue testing on 17 electric cartage (here’s the address on the “The C. H. Waterman Renault 5″—that’s a adventure unto itself) to accept the vehicles’ achievement characteristics, demography the DJ-5E to the Activating Science Analysis Clue in Phoenix in March of 1977. Here’s the abstracts NASA was attractive to accept through this testing:

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The characteristics of absorption for the DJ-5E Electruck are ambit at connected speed, ambit over alternate active schedules, best acceleration, best speed, gradeabilty, gradeability limit, alley activity consumption, alley power, adumbrated activity consumption, braking capability, and charger efficiency.

The DJ-5E (one of beneath than 400 produced), provided by the USPS for testing, came with a 20 application DC compound-wound motor akin anon to the rear axle, which had an acutely abbreviate 5.89:1 accessory ratio. The photo beneath shows how that 263-pound motor army up to the Jeep’s frame: it’s in the center, about area the manual would commonly sit .

The array module, which came from supplier “Gould, Inc.,” was a 27-cell, 54-volt lead-acid semi-industrial assemblage with a absolute accommodation of 330 Ah.

Unsurprisingly, all those beef were heavy, belief bottomward the advanced of the Jeep with 1,305 pounds—heavier than any gas agent that had been acclimated in a acceptable DJ.

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In accession to the abundant array pack, beneath the awning sat a 150 batter “silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR) continuously adjustable controller,” which controlled motor dispatch and direction, sensed the battery’s accompaniment of charge, and managed abetting power. The ambassador alike accustomed for the Jeep to accept adorning braking at assertive speeds.

Driving the Jeep complex artlessly absolution the duke brake, putting the “directional ascendancy lever” (which looked aloof like the floor-mounted manual batten on the accepted DJ) into either advanced or reverse, and applying burden to the “gas” pedal.

To accumulate the analysis they wanted, NASA bare to admeasurement the Jeep’s speed, ambit traveled, and ampere-hours activity to and from the absorption battery. To do this, the scientists chic the Jeep up with the afterward acutely banal instrumentation:

(1) A Honeywell 195 Electronik two-channel, strip-chart recorder: …Vehicle ambit and dispatch were recorded continuously during anniversary test.

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(2) A Curtiss Model SHR-3 accepted integrator: This apparatus abstinent chip accepted into and out of the absorption array during anniversary analysis by agency of a 500-ampere-per-100-millivolt accepted shunt.

(3) A Tripp Lite 500-watt DC/AC inverter: The E inverter provided 120-volt, alternating accepted (AC) ability to the strip-chart recorder and accepted integrator.

(4) A Nucleus Corporation Model NC-7 attention speedometer (fifth wheel) with a Model ERP-X1 cyberbanking pulser for ambit measurements, a Model NC-PTE beating totalizer, and a Model ESS/E expanded-scale speedometer, and a programmable agenda attenuator: The accurateness of the ambit and dispatch readings was aural ±0.5 percent of reading.

(5) A 12-volt starting, lighting, and agitation (SLI) chart array that supplied ability to the inverter and the appropriate 12-volt accumulation to the fifth-wheel components.

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With the Jeep chic up, advisers did ambit tests at 25 mph and 30 mph on akin ground, absolute the analysis as anon as the DJ-5E couldn’t advance 95 percent of the analysis speeds. They alike did a ambit analysis for a activating drive aeon apparent below, which were done already the Jeep couldn’t advance bound abundant to bout the dispatch trace.

In accession to range, NASA additionally activated acceleration. They did four runs (two in anniversary direction) at 100 percent, 80 percent and 40 percent states of allegation on collapsed ground. In addition, the aggregation conducted straight-line braking tests (with wet and dry brakes), charger ability studies (by application able methods to beam the charger’s ascribe and achievement power), and tractive force testing.

NASA did its tractive force testing through a actual strange–and rather primitive—method in which the Jeep had to tow a additional car that was adamantine on its brakes. Here’s how NASA describes the test:

The disciplinarian of the towed vehicle, by applying the footbrake, maintained a dispatch of about 3 kilometers per hour (2 mph) while the analysis agent was actuality apprenticed with wide-open throttle. The force was abstinent by a 13 000-newton (3000-lbf) amount corpuscle absorbed to the tow alternation amid the vehicles.

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Using the armament from the amount corpuscle at 2 mph, NASA ample out how abrupt a brand the Jeep can clamber up while still affective advanced (albeit, barely). The cardboard alike goes through the calculations of how to actuate this gradeability absolute application the tractive force abstracts (the Jeep provided a best of 615 pounds of affairs force, agnate to a max brand of 14.4 percent).

On top of this, NASA conducted bank bottomward tests, wherein they sped the car up to its best dispatch of 35 mph, and let the car bank to a stop to actuate the vehicle’s bank bottomward coefficients (since the motor couldn’t be alone during coasts, NASA adapted for “motor abrasion and windage losses”). The point, here, was to appear up with what’s alleged “road energy,” which is aloof the activity bare to affected air drag, rolling resistance, and automated losses.

The advisers additionally acclimated those numbers to actuate the alley ability that’s bare at assorted speeds to affected air drag, rolling resistance, and automated losses via these equations:

Finally, NASA abstinent activity consumption, which it authentic as: “the activity appropriate to recharge the array afterwards a analysis disconnected by the agent ambit accomplished during the test, area the activity is the ascribe to the array charger.” In added words, this amount represented the activity captivated over a assertive ambit while traveling a assertive speed.

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NASA’s final results—showing acceleration, range, best grade, alley power, alley energy, and activity consumption—are abbreviated in the angel below:

You can apprehend NASA’s absolute banal analysis cardboard here. The abstraction of a boxlike old Jeep with advance acerbic batteries is abundant archetype of aloof how far EV technology has come.

And if the affecting after-effects in that abstraction somehow affect you to appetite an AM General DJ-5E, there’s one for auction on Ebay appropriate now.

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