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Electric vehicle conversions?

June 29, 2011

HONESDALE, PA — Many laud the growing interest in electric cars, but do they want to drive one? Or even more, would they build one from their own gas-driven cars, as some are doing today?

That’s what Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support (SEEDS) wants to find out before it is going to hold training workshops on converting people’s gas guzzlers to electric.

SEEDS is a community-based organization in Northeastern Pennsylvania committed to developing a local renewable energy infrastructure and promoting more sustainable living. In the last two years, the group has held workshops that train mechanics to install photovoltaics, wind turbines and geothermal HVAC systems in local buildings. These events have been well attended, providing free information to over 800 residents of the area.

To achieve another level of sustainability, they may now turn to one of the prime polluter of all—the automobile. Automobiles may not reach the heights of pollution, a dubious distinction, as coal-driven power plants but they’re right up there fighting for second or third place.

The meeting, held on June 21 at the Wayne County Conservation District office, was called “Electric Vehicle Conversion: Putting a Plug in Ordinary Cars, Tractors and Vans” and was attended by 25 people.

Speakers included Jenny Isaacs, whose nonprofit Bucks County Renewables Company sponsors EVC electric vehicle conversion (EVC) seminars and hands-on workshops through Bucks County Community College; Brandon Hollinger, owner of BH Electrics, a professional conversion shop in Lancaster, PA, who spoke on converting ordinary gas vehicles to electric plug-ins; John Conway, a Sullivan County automotive engineer and owner of Buzz Equipment of Sullivan County, who spoke on converting gas and diesel tractors and fleet vehicles, and Margaret Bakker and Rob Lewis of Shaverton, PA, who showcased their Prius plug-in that they have been driving for three years.

Bakker and Lewis’s plug-in Prius, which stood outside the building, was being charged by means of a long yellow electric cord that was plugged into a normal electric outlet in the building.

“It has a normal Prius gas engine but switches to electricity much more frequently than normal because of the powerful lithium battery that gets charged regularly. It sits in the trunk were the spare tire used to be,” said Lewis.

Electric vehicle conversions?