The Chibi-Mikuvan, Or A Power Wheels With A Ford Fusion Battery

At all the big Maker Faires, the Power Racing Series makes an appearance, turning old Power Wheels into race cars that whip around the track at dozens of miles an hour. [Charles] is somewhat famous in the scene – there’s even a clause in the official rules named after him – so of course anything he brings to race day will be amazing. It was. It used a battery pack from a Ford Fusion plugin hybrid, a custom body, and a water cooling unit from a dead Mac G5.

A few months ago, we saw [Charles] tear into the battery pack he picked up for $300. This is the kind of equipment that will kill you before you know you’ve made a mistake, but [Charles] was able to take the pack apart and make a few battery packs – 28.8v and 16Ah – enough to get him around the track a few times.

The chassis for the Chibi-Mikuvan was built from steel, and the bodywork was built from machined pink foam, fiberglassed, and finished using a few tips [Charles] gleaned from [Burt Rutan]’s book, Moldless Composite Sandwich Aircraft Construction. The motor? That’s an enormous brushless motor meant for a 1/5th scale RC boat. The transmission is from an angle grinder, and the electronics are a work of art.

The result? A nearly perfect Power Wheels racer that has a curb weight of 110 pounds and tops out at 25 mph. It handles well, too: in the videos below, it overtakes the entire field of hacky racers in the Power Wheels Racing competition at Maker Faire NYC, and afterwards still had enough juice to tear around the faire.

19 thoughts on “The Chibi-Mikuvan, Or A Power Wheels With A Ford Fusion Battery

  1. i have a love/hate relationship with his website. it’s awesome and obscenely full of EV information, but it also makes me green with envy. those brushless motor cans are incredible and the stuff he gets to make at MIT is unreal!

      1. I love those rules. “We at the PPPRS take rule breaking very seriously, and we don’t like people who half-ass things. If you are going to break one of our rules, we encourage you to go full ass”

        1. A.3.1 | Crash and Burn Award

          Congratulations! You have chosen to build an off-road vehicle. The only problem is that the PPPRS is an on-road racing series, which means you’ve spent more laps on the tire wall than actually on the track. You also might be Australian and have spent most of your time upside down. Luckily, there’s an award for that.

    1. Why did you choose to go to all the effort of making an open differential when you could have used a smaller motor for each rear wheel and achieved the equivalent of a torque sensing limited slip differential?

      1. This kart doesn’t have a differential at all, with a single motor, which I chose to do for simplicity, budgetary reasons, and to guarantee power availability through turns.

        Two independent motors is not quite the same as a torque-sensing LSD. In the case of the rear inside wheel losing traction in a turn, you will only have 50% torque available (the outside wheel). Torque sensing LSDs can in principle give you 100% driveline torque.

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