A lot of car buyers today are interested in cutting their carbon footprint – that’s why they want to purchase both hybrid and electric cars.
Hybrids (Karen writes about the pleasures of owning a Prius), are a combination of both a gasoline and electric power source.
Hybrids are becoming very popular in Israel, despite their higher costs. While these cars are more economical to drive, they do not completely solve the exhaust emissions problems as at least 70 -80% of the overall driving is still being done with the gasoline engine.
Then there are full electric cars: currently being developed by Israelis at the company Better Place, these guys have made agreements with both Renault and Nissan for developing full electric vehicles, which are being promoted at the COP 15 climate change conference now on. Full electric cars are still very expensive, however, and beyond the financial reach of many people.
With this in mind, if you don’t have the cash to lay down for a hybrid and can’t wait for a decent full electric solution why not build one of own?
You can convert your old polluting fossil fuel set of wheels to a totally electric one. I’m not referring to slapping a used electric motor from a washing machine onto a go-cart frame, or building a glorified golf cart from a set of plans taken from a back issue of Popular Mechanics (for those who are familiar with this popular American “how to do it” magazine).
A guide on converting a regular gasoline power car (in this case a ’95 Toyota Corolla) to on powered by electricity, appeared recently in an environmental website Residential Solar Power that told how to make this conversion, and on a limited “shoestring” budget at that.
The text there is a little hard to follow and it won’t be easy. Either you have to be mechanically inclined, and have the proper tools and a car lift: to remove the old gasoline engine and exhaust system, and replace it with a suitable electric motor (DC current recommended); and create a “cradle” large enough to accommodate several automobile batteries (that will supply the power).
You also have to alter the car’s hydraulic transmission bit to work with new engine, as well as install a special battery charging unit to recharge to batteries (or do the old way with jumper cables attached to each battery to recharge it once it goes flat).
Supposedly, if all goes well with the conversion, you should wind up having a car that will accelerate off the line much faster than a gasoline driven one, and which should go at least 200 miles (300 km) at a top speed of 50 mph (80 kmh).
That’s okay for city driving, but won’t be good for highway speeds, however. And like having a sexual transgender operation, it would be a bit difficult to revert back to what was before (in this case, what the power source was previously).
There is also the problem on convincing your local governmental authorities, such as the Public Safety Department or Transport Ministry to authorize a license to drive such a car on public streets and roads. The article itself didn’t mention anything on how to deal with this “minor technicality.”
You’re on your own in dealing with this matter. But people who’ve converted their cars to on biodiesel and natural gas, may very well have the same problem.
Other people are trying to convert their cars to run on electricity, including a man in the American state of Mississippi who converted an old VW Scirocco to run on battery power. But his model entails the use of no less than 15 ordinary car batteries to supply the needed power, and the conversion costs much more.
But if the Residential Solar Power article holds true, you may (hopefully) invest only a few hundred dollars, or the equivalent in your local currency, and wind up with an emissions-free car that, besides the cost of replacing worn out batteries, will be environmentally greener to drive and maybe more economical too.
If you have the money, however, it might be better to wait until Renault’s ZE Concept electric car line comes out around the end of 2012. Or to try the Z5 retrofit. Though the jury’s still out on that one if it actually works, or not.
[image via Green Autoblog]
This is serious stuff. Be warned.