|E-fficient: Mechanic converts car engine to electric power|
|Thursday, 04 March 2010 16:08|
Despite decades of research, automakers across the globe are still struggling with the development of an electric automobile that is completely functional and practical.
Maybe the manufacturers need to take a lesson from a local mechanic right here in the Turks and Caicos Islands who has created the island’s first electric car.
It might not seem evident at first sight, but Tibor Gula Jr. of Tibor’s Machine Shop has converted a 1998 Chevrolet Metro to run completely electric on battery power. He converted the 1.4 litre engine of his Chevy to a 96 volt electrically powered vehicle.
“It took about 100 hours to install the electric motor and batteries, which involved testing, fabricating and modifications of a few components.” Gula explains.
Gula was able to replace the Chevy’s engine with a more environmentally friendly model, running completely on regular car batteries.
“Ideally, electric vehicle specific batteries should be used, which would increase the range and power, but I used these batteries to provide a means of testing motor/voltage and vehicle compatibility.” Efficiency is reduced due to the automatic transmission, but it all still provides plenty of power to pull into traffic and cruise at 50 mph comfortably.
“This vehicle will go from Tibor’s Machine Shop to Long Bay Hills and back on a single charge,” Gula said. This model could work on a small island such as Providenciales for people who have a regular commute across the island.
Gula says he has had the wish to experiment with an electric car for a long time. With his family having lived on the island for more than 20 years, Gula is intimately familiar with environmental concerns created by the growing number of vehicles in TCI. At the same time, he has been intrigued by the financial efficiency of an electric vehicle.
“Virtually maintenance free, an electric vehicle is environmentally friendly, creates no waste, and can be built to out-muscle most internal combustion engines,” he explained.
Although there is an up-front investment required to convert a vehicle to electric, the long term benefits outweigh this investment considerably. The electric car requires minimal maintenance, saves on gas, oil and service costs — and reduces the problem of disposing of used engine oil, which is an environmental hazard.
For his short 14-mile commute, factoring in only the cost of energy to recharge the car, Gula calculated that he can save an estimated $2,400 per year.
“All the parts purchased for the conversion are not vehicle specific and can be easily transferred to other similarly sized vehicles with relative ease,” Gula said.
An electric vehicle does not make any engine noise, so the biggest adjustment is getting used to the quiet ride.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 06 March 2010 17:46|
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