EV Obsession

2006-03-15 23:49

My mind has a funny way of working at times. I’ll be reading something innocuous on the web and I’ll follow a couple links and stumble upon an interesting idea and start reading more about it and then BOOM! Suddenly I’m obsessed with it. I’ll spend all my free time reading up on the new subject until I’ve amassed a reasonable working knowledge of the topic at hand. That’s how my kayaking interest started a year and a half ago (still have some finishing work to do on my Sea Raider btw, but it’s definitely a functional kayak). This week’s obsession started when I stumbled across a mention of electric cars at 43 things.

It turns out that converting an internal combustion engine car (ICE to the electrical vehicle community) into an electrical vehicle is a pretty doable project if you’re mechanically inclined. It’s somewhat expensive, but far less than buying say a new Toyota Prius. You’re looking at probably 200 hours of labor all told, but for a guy like me that just adds to the appeal of the project.

From a weekly driving habits perspective, there’s no question I’m a good candidate for an electric vehicle. I rarely drive more than 20 miles a day during the week. Most low end EV conversions can easily accommodate twice my average daily driving requirements. The rising cost of gas irritates me, especially since a tank of gas for my Element runs $30 these days, but at most I need two trips to the pump a month. A year’s worth of gas for my Element is probably only one tenth the cost of a basic EV conversion. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but intuitively it doesn’t make a whole lot of economic sense at this point unless I were to sell my Element and that’s not even on the table because I’m planning to keep my Element for a long time (I could actually see converting it to an EV in 10 to 15 years though) and definitely need its cargo flexibility.

If I were to build an EV right now I’ve already found what could be the perfect vehicle on the Seattle Craigslist: an 86 Honda CRX with a dead engine for $350. Assuming the body is in decent condition this would be my dream EV. Before I owned my Element I drove an 88 Honda Accord LX that I loved for several years. The CRX from that era is basically a sportier subcompact version and would make really fun two person commuter vehicle. Unfortunately money is tight, the CRX is on the other side of the state and it would be a pain to transport over here. It’s fun to think about though and fits nicely onto my list of projects to accomplish at some point in the future.