By Bill Moore
DIY means "Do It Yourself" and that may become the only way you can own a battery electric vehicle, at leastin the USA. With the weakening of the California ZEV mandate's requirement for carmakers to build modest numbers of road-capable zero emission vehicles, there are only a handful of options left for people want to free themselves of their oil addiction; and that is to yank out their gasoline engines and replace them with quiet, clean, efficient electric drive systems.
The process isn't as daunting as it might sound, but neither is it inexpensive. According to Victor Tikhonov of Metric Mind in Portland, Oregon, it can cost as little a few thousand dollars to as much as $15 thousand, not including the "donor" vehicle. But for that $15K you get a vehicle that can usually out perform the stock gasoline vehicle, and if you can afford the new lithium ion batteries just entering the market, Tikhonov estimates you can get ranges up to 200 miles between charges.
Tikhonov is a native of St. Petersburg and a Russian-trained electrical engineer, who took a keen interest in electric vehicles (EVs) after reading Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brandt. Taking his cue from another EV-pioneer, Alan Cocconi, Tikhonov converted a 1991 Honda CRX to a DC motor-driven EV.
But when he discovered an affordable AC-powered drive system by Siemens in Europe, he realized he may have stumbled onto a real business. We talk about that business and what it takes to convert vehicles to electric drive in this 36 minute-long interview.
To listen to the two-part interview, click the Play Audio links at the top right. You will need the FREE RealPlayer plugin available from Real.Com.