Converting old cars to electric is pure genius


Electric cars are great as they consume much less energy and don’t rely on dirty foreign oil to transport people. They promise to be all the rage in the years and decades to come, but to date, we see very few of them.

But what if we transformed today’s cars into electric ones ? This is the question raised by Andrew Revkin’s article on Dot Earth. This got me thinking and I wanted to document myself on that promising matter.

To Gas 2.0 this has been the case many times over already with various kinds of cars such as a Corvette, a roadster or a VW Beetle to name but a few.

I even found there a great post dating from August 2009 giving further estimates of the cost and payback times. Here are some extracts :

Entrepreneurs have begun to retrofit ordinary combustion vehicles into all-electrics or plug-in hybrids. Here’s why this could be the “big fix” that the auto-industry needs.

Are we stuck with our oil addiction? What if millions of our middle-aged vehicles could be reincarnated as superior versions of their youthful selves, while developing new revenue streams for Detroit?

What if that “fix” could start reducing the billion a day we spend on imported oil, while creating tens of thousands of local jobs in communities and cutting greenhouse gases from fossil fuels?

Automakers could do all this—by thinking of vehicles as upgradable high-tech products. (…)

In volume, this conversion could sell for $10-15,000. Converting school and transit buses could cost $35,000, with three- to five-year paybacks and reduced diesel fumes. And delivery vans that stay on the road up to 300,000 miles, with engines replaced every 100,000, could instead get partly electrified.

(…) Why electrify transportation? Compared to combustion engines that waste most of their fuel in heat and friction, over the entire cycle from fuel extraction to use, electric motors are four times more efficient, making electric miles that much cheaper.

Another post – Gas 2.0 have been writing pretty extensively on the matter – estimates that costs would drop from $200 per month on gas to just $20 on electricity per car… That’s a factor ten reduction !

If the cost reduction in America is a factor ten, what about here in Europe where gas prices are much higher (but where cars are more efficient as well) ? Please refer to Could the US tax more gasoline ? for more on the differences of taxation on oil between here and there.

Spending $10,000 (or 7,000 €) on an old car might look foolish, but French people drive on average 10,000 kilometers per year. How long would this payback at gas prices at 1.50 to 1.60 € par liter ? (and soon even more with peak oil…)

France uses one million barrels per day on transportation. At today’s prices that’s over 85 million euros per day that are going abroad just to move our cars and trucks. Spending over half a billion per week is a lot…

What if we started converting our old cars to stop to electric ?

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