I hate driving. Hate it. Haaate itttt. I hate that the infrastructure of my little corner of the South is not set up for public transpo (yaaaaay urban sprawl!). So, by extension, I kind of hate cars. They’re dirty, noisy, expensive, and bad for the environment. Most of the cars on the road today are too damn big, too damn heavy, and horrible on gas mileage. I mean, really, people. Nothing triggers my gag reflex faster than seeing a.) A Hummer on the road, and b.) Topless pictures of Danny Bonaduce. So, when Who Killed the Electric Car? showed up in my mailbox from Netflix the other week, it was only natural that I’d become a fervent EV activist.

If you wanna see the movie, but don’t want to wait for Netflix, the whole thing can be viewed here through Google videos. I highly reccommend that anyone into the “green” thing check out this documentary. Granted, it’s not a perfect doc. It has some moments that feel a little Michael-Mooreish and willing-suspension-of-disbelief-y, but that’s beside the point. The thing that really got my blood boiling about the EV situation is when, towards the end of the film, one of the men who worked on GM’s EV project said something along the lines of, “The car companies will never give us EVs. They’re using hybrids and the prospect of hydrogen fuel cell cars to string us along.” And it’s true. It’s totally true. The car companies stand to gain nothing from folks buying and driving EVs. And the thing that is SO frustrating, so wrong and insulting about this is that EVs are not the “cars of the future”. EVs are NOW. The technology may not be perfected (when is anything ever perfect anyway?), but it exists. They’re rolling out EVs in Japan and India, but, for some unexplained reason, not in the US. It’s about time people knew that they don’t have to wait on the car companies here in the States to make EVs available for purchase. You can do it your damn self. After the jump, EV conversion made real!

Now, I’m sure a lot of you out there are probably intimidated by the idea of literally hollowing out your car and converting it to an EV. Yeah, the idea is scary. But, you don’t have to do it alone. There are countless EV communities on the interwebs, and a wealth of information to help you on this mission should you choose to undertake it. By far, my favorite EV conversion site is http://www.evconvert.com/. If you can think of a question regarding how to convert a car to electric, the answer is somewhere in this site. Proprietor Jerry Halstead has been living the EV dream since 1995, with 3 gas-to-electric conversions under his belt. Don’t let the fact that Jerry is an engineer and lifelong car-tinkerer deter you. There are plenty of other folks out there doing it, too. Hell, you can even watch people’s conversions on youtube. On an impossibly tight budget? OK! Try taking a cue from project ForkenSwift. The poster child for “electric car conversion on a beer budget”, ForkenSwift is the marriage of reclaimed forklift engines and a couple of limping Geo’s to create a cheap and zippy EV.

Still scurred? Read through the Your First EV page, and see if EV is for you. Now, (given what my job is) I do know a thing or two about electronics. I’m far from an expert or even a whiz, but the fact that I can actually make heads and tails of the basic EV schematics means you can too, folks! Have a look at the basic tools list:

Here’s my rough tool list (to own/borrow/rent):

  • socket set
  • wire stripper and crimper (low voltage)
  • big crimper (high voltage, picture here)
  • volt meter
  • hack saw
  • welding gear

Aside from the welding gear, which I still haven’t fully gotten the hang of, child’s play.

But again, EV conversions are not for everyone. If you want a big car, a road trippin’ car, a heavy haulin’ car, maybe don’t try it. You also have to sacrifice some performance expectations with your electric ride. The Holy Trinity of car expectations is Cheap, Fast, and Good. With an EV, pick two. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s cheap and fast, it won’t be good. If it’s good and fast, it won’t be cheap. Nobody ever said saving the world was easy. But, it may not have to be all on you: If you can’t do the conversion yourself (and have a slightly bigger budget), I’m sure you can find a garage willing to convert a car for a fee. You may have to look for a time to find a mechanic you trust, and someone who will actually take on the project (as these are difficult to insure).

As for me, I can’t wait to get started. After all the wedding hoopla has died down and I’ve managed to save some coin (and read several EV books), I plan on hollowing out an old Cabrio and telling GM and Big Oil to kiss. my. ass. Leave me comments!!

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