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Ken Albright had a gutted-out 1986 VW Scirocco GTX in his garage a few months ago. After $8,000 and 100 hours of labor, he now has an electric car. He figures it costs about 3 cents per mile to drive. He hopes the reduced operating costs will pay for the conversion in four years. Albright's design has five batteries under the hood and 10 more in back, making up a total of 120 volts. A video found on this link has Albright explaining that he built the car with a 40-mile range since his daily commute is 12 miles.
[Source: Nicole Wade / Missourian]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      12 mile daily commute times 250 work days per year equals 3000 miles driven per year.

      15 batteries every 3 years at $80 per battery equals $400 per year for batteries.

      3000 miles divided by 30 mpg that the Scirroco used to get is 100 gallons of gas. 100 gallons of gas at $3 per gallon costs $300 dollars.

      Even without considering the cost of electricity to recharge the batteries this is a bad deal for the owner.

      I figure that this project will NEVER pay for itself.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Chris, go build yourself an electric car if it makes you happy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why can so few see that electricity has the abilityto be made from other things than carbon based fuels. I would gladly pay the same if not a small percentage more to be free of the middle east's hold on our economy. Electricity can be made at home. Can you make gasoline in your basement or garage, I urge caution if you try. Electricity is as free as you want it to be, or how much effort you put into how you receive it. Like air and water, there also is electricity, as free as the wind blows, or as free as sunshine. Carbon fuels: I couldn't start to tally up the cost, in cluding the loss of life in the countless wars throughout history. Please be smart, forget carbon based fuels, the answer is electric.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Considering that lead has a melting point of 327.46 °C (621.43 °F) and iron has a melting point of 1538 °C (2800 °F), I'd say it takes a lot less energy to recycle 15 car batteries than to recycle one cast iron engine block.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mark, to harness the wind and sunshine takes equipment. Equipment is not free. It takes energy to manufacture equipment. It takes money to buy the equipment. The equipment to harness the wind and sun requires maintenance and wears out and must be replaced. Also, please consider that batteries are made of lead or nickel or cadmium -- all very bad for the environment.

        The point of the article - as I recall - was about how the owner was going to save money by converting his car to run on batteries. My comment was to point out that he will NOT save money by doing so.

        Mark, I agree with you that electricity may be more socially conscious but it is NOT economically valid at this point. I wish it were.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The flaw with your argument is the assumption that the batteries would have to be replaced every 3 years. The lifespan of lead acid batteries is strongly affected by the depth of discharge, and how long they remain in a discharged state. Shallow discharge and fairly prompt recharging will mean a much longer lifespan.

        Since he has designed for a 40 mile range, and his typical daily drive is only 12 miles, I'd say he'd get a lot more than 3 years from those batteries. Moreover, it would still be usable even when the capacity had dropped to 25 miles.

        Also, lead is valuable enough that some places will actually buy spent lead acid batteries for recycling. I once got $5 for an old car battery, that would be $75 for recycling 15 old batteries when replacement time finally comes.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ok, since we're getting picky. First add in the $8,000 it cost him to do the project. Don't forget to add the opportunity cost of his personal time. I'll give you six years on the batteries and $10 per battery when they are traded in. Now, please also consider the electricity bill for charging the car nightly (I realize that this may not be that much money). You could even add $1.50 per gallon gas into the formula and it still wouldn't make economic sense.

        If the guy likes tinkering around with cars, it's fine with me. But don't spout off BS numbers like $.02 per mile operating cost without backing it up - it gets the ignorant hippies needlessly excited.

        Also, why not look into how much energy it takes to recycle a lead acid battery?
      • 6 Years Ago
      You Guys should continue building electric cars....

      Never mind gas being $10/gallon in 2010, here in Europe (im in the UK) where driving distances are generally shorter, we are paying £1.25 for a litre of gas (or petrol as we call it)...thats £5.60 per (UK) gallon....which is already over $10 per gallon....& they say it will rise a further 10% to 20% by the end of 2008 !
      • 6 Years Ago
      Electric cars will not alone get us off the oil "tit" as it was referred to. What most people do not have the forward to think about is where do we get majority of our electricity, from oil and gas power plants! Now to do a complete 180 we do need electric cars mass produced but also, more power to charge those cars on coming from solar, wind, and natural energy(IE hydrothermal, rivers)
      • 7 Years Ago
      Electric is to get us off the oil tit. That's all. It is also better than a gas burner because the amount of consumables is much less. No engine oil to worry about and if you have regen you're brake system will last for just about forever. What, maybe 20 moving parts on an electric vs gas. You do the math. One thing I always see in these blasts on economy and cost compare remarks is that no one ever includes the cost to maintain the system. That can get pretty damn high over the life of the vehicle. If you are wanting to go total green then go naked, walk, and keep youre mouth shut as you will be wasting energy. Only uncooked meals for you so you don't pollute the air and what to do with your waste (poop). Mmmmm. Maybe Humans are not that green after all.


      xraytech
      • 6 Years Ago
      An article in a recent issue of Hot VW's magazine told of someone in 1959 who converted an old VW Karmann Ghia over to electric motors. It had two electric motors of only 11 H.P. each and four 1959 circa batteries and went 55mph for 80 miles! How come 50 years later we still can't beat that much less get some on the road? Fifty years of DC motor and battery development has got to be able to do this cheaply and easily! Another question -- why does everyone seem to shy away from using tranmisions to allow smaller motors of less electrical drain?
        • 5 Years Ago
        There is no free ride because of a transmission James, but it does allow optimum torque at a ;particular speed, now if speed is all over the place, then yes a transmission is helpful but it does cause friction too, also electric motors having a wide torque band don't need 5 and six sp transmissions only one or two, so is it WORTH the weight oil gears etc as opposed to operating your electric motor slightly outside the torque band for a while ? The twin motor idea is interesting as you can double or half torque dependant on speed rpm, so at highre sppeds you could use one and when starting or hills use two, BUT if this really is more efficient I am sure it can in 2009 be equalled by modern ac motors or even a dual winding motor but because the US will not allow the engineering to advance because of politics, the useless DOT and the currupted EPA , goes on and on we need to do it my ourselves, its a crying shame that our engineering capability is so crippled and our gov't so sick and misguided that oil still rules its iron hand, sorry to get of fthe subject, but energy storage devices need to be explored , buttoo, can you imagine all the kenetic energy you throw away that could be captured in many forms to help batt life, but WHO is working on this, just a few nuts around the world who's voices are never heard !
      • 3 Years Ago
      just looking into electric motors,not much time into subject ,but installing a set of fins with magnets sides postions as to push againts one another{one row fixed with reverse lock] could help add power to the motor useing perment magnet .lock could prevent caneling out added power once going{ hallfive]
      • 6 Years Ago
      i'd rather be using those 8000$ and all that battery money to buy renewable fuel (closed carbon cycle) than adding yet more dead batteries to landfills.
      Electric cars with lead-acid batteries are of doubtful benefit to our environment.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Veritas07 said:

      "look at the toyota prius. its rated at 55 miles per gallon. i have a 91 metro that gets 60. so whats the deal."

      Oh, that's easy. The 91 metro is actually *rated* at 45 MPG on the highway. You have only proven that the EPA rating is wrong for your particular vehicle. Many prius drivers also report higher gas milage than the 55 MPG that it's rated at.

      Now, as I see it, the difference between driving a gas vehicle and driving an electric, is that no matter *what* the fuel efficiency, you're not fixing the environmental problems of car ownership. You're just contributing to the problem *less*.

      Now, if you live where I do, where 90% of electricity production is hydroelectric, then you can honestly say that driving an electric car nearly eliminates the problem. That is, when I'm not riding my bike or taking the train, which does an even better job.
        • 5 Years Ago
        happy to say our Metro, loaded withall my personal belongings including a 20 inch tv set, from VA to Il. and 2 adults, 60 count em 60 MPG. The Metro is now deceased after 200,00 miles. I buried in my back yard with a head stone. Lotsa respect for a a dear friend. NOW stupid Detriot and Washington cant figure out to build a higher than 35 mpg. DA, go back 18 years and revive a great little workhorse. R.I.P Geo.
      • 8 Years Ago
      ^ what he said!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ah, one day we'll have access to affordable ni-mh or li-po/li-ion, and I'll think about doing this, my commute is 90 miles both ways.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My plan is to build a light weight electric car that would get around 100 miles per charge. I drive only 12.5 highway miles to work and another 12.5 highway miles home from work. 25 miles a day would keep from killing the batteries and with a regenerative breaking system along with a decent sized solar cell on the roof to trickle charge the batteries during the day, the batteries should last much longer. Sure the car will only have about 50HP and a top speed of around 90mph, but who cares if it gets me from point A to B. Heck its specs might not be that good, but because it's full electric I already have better torque and because it will be a lightweight car built mostly of polycarbonates, its power to weight ratio will be that of a regular sports car or better. For you ignorant people out there, it will have good acceleration.
      On top of that I plan to have wind turbines and solar panels tied into my houses grid back feeding the utility company to offset my power bill. I have worked out many numbers and taken days with little wind and sun into account, and even so I would still be powering my house and charging my car with a negative amount (-$2.57) power bill at the end of the month. The system would also pay itself off in just under 2.5 years. In that short time span nothing should have broken down. Total cost of car, wind turbines and solar cells... $12,000. All home built (other than solar cells)
      I'm only 21 years old and have never taken mechanical engineering or electrical classes. I teach myself everything I know and I'm still able to pull this off. Why won’t all of you give it a shot?
      For everybody who wants to hate on Ken Albrights idea of a full electric car just because it doesn’t have great specs, shut up. At least he’s making an effort to cut ties with the oil companies. Sure he might divert the power offset and fuel usage to the power company, but the power companies run way more efficient than our cars. The more efficient they are, the more money they make. The less efficient car companies make our cars, the more money they make. Now who wants an electric car?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thanks
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