Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
Minn. ó A Minnesota mechanic is touting the viability of electric vehicles at
the State Fair.
Roberts, who owns The Foreign Service repair shop in Roseville, is displaying a
black 2003 Ford Ranger at the fairgrounds, which he's converted to 100 percent
sports a new wax job and a bunch of slogans painted on the shiny surface, such
as "100-percent electric vehicle conversion" and "40-miles per
charge," a rough approximation of how far you can travel on a charge.
it says 'no more blood for oil,' a little political statement there,"
Roberts said. "That's on the gas door. And look at that, there's a gas cap
there, but if you take the gas cap off, you can see the ground down
stacked up on top of that," Roberts continues, "is the controller,
that allows you to apply the throttle and have a normal acceleration rate. And
then there's various controls for generating 12-volt power to run the lights,
the heater, the windshield wipers and things like that, that you need on a
normal vehicle. And sitting on top of all that, because it's kind of
neat-looking, is the battery charger."
under the hood are three big 12-volt lead-acid batteries. Nine more are in the
truck bed, taking up a little more than a quarter of the cargo space.
converted the truck for Todd Seabury-Kolod. The truck cost $3,000 used, plus
another $15,000 for the conversion.
Todd Seabury-Kolod says he'll save some money
charging his car with electricity instead of
filling it with gas. But he says
important thing to him is reducing
his contribution to global warming.
(MPR Photo/Stephanie Hemphill)
"I like to think of myself as a mild-mannered person, but I
seem to be overcome with this mad-as-hell-not-going-to-take-it-anymore
feeling," Kolod said.
He's mad because the technology to make an electric truck like
this has been around for more than twenty years, but he says the big automakers
and the government have ignored the potential of electric vehicles.
"You get $4,500 for Cash for Clunkers but you don't get one
penny for an electric conversion like this," he said.
Since the conversion, Kolod's electric bill is going up, but he
thinks his overall costs will go down.
"Especially with gas prices hovering at around $2.50, there
is a little bit of savings, but I think more importantly, the carbon footprint
is less, and that's probably what I care most about," he said.
Studies show that, even factoring in the coal-fired power plants
producing the electricity, electric cars put out about 25 percent less global
warming pollution than gasoline cars.
That climate change advantage will improve as we add more wind
power to our electric energy mix. Roberts says electric vehicles can help even
out the demand for electricity.
The Ford emblem flips aside to accommodate a
household plug. It takes eight to ten
hours to charge the twelve lead-acid
that will go for about 40 miles.
(MPR Photo/Stephanie Hemphill)
"We can be charging our batteries for our
electric cars at night when there's surplus of electricity; we can also be
turning on chargers during the day if it's a windy day and there's a surplus of
It takes eight to ten hours on standard household current to fully
charge the batteries. That'll get you 35 to 40 miles the next day.
Members of the
Minnesota Electric Auto Association have electrified all sorts of vehicles,
from trucks to VW bugs to sports cars. (MPR Photo/Stepanie Hemphill)
The truck rides smooth, and very quiet. Roberts says the truck
will go 70 miles an hour, but he doesn't recommend it.
"It's really not a good idea to drive at high speeds because
it's not good for the batteries. And there's no reason to; it's an
around-the-town vehicle, where our speed limits are all 60, maybe 65 at the
This is his second conversion project. He says it's easy to
convert trucks, because it's obvious where to put the batteries.
The Ford Ranger and a bunch of other electric cars are on display
at the State Fair. There are other conversions, and a couple of cars made to be
electric at the factory.
All Things Considered, 08/28/2009,
Mechanic's electric truck gets State Fair debut (feature