This story is not about “peak oil” or running out of finite resources. It’s about gearheads. EV gearheads are relatively few and far between, but they are growing in numbers by the day. Whether or not we’re going to run out of oil is irrelevant. It should be painfully obvious by now that the price of fuel is only headed one direction – up. Eventually, we’ll reach a point where our thirsty playthings only come out to play on the weekend or for special occasions. But that doesn’t mean we’ll have to buy some US$50,000 EV. We’re gearheads. We can make our own.
Recently, I saw something about Honda working with Tesla to release an electric RAV4 (Hat Tip: TTAC). It will be about US$50,000 (€38,000), have a top speed around 75mph, a range of 100-120 miles (160-190km), and only be sold in California. In all fairness, I think this is pretty cool, because more people driving EVs will mean better EV technology at better prices – hopefully increasing demand for renewable power to charge them. But much like the Chevy Volt, I think gearheads can do better.
I quickly hit Google to track down some of the DIY EV RAV4 conversions I’ve seen over the years. Unfortunately, the automotive press has since flooded Google with thousands of paraphrased press releases in pursuit of the almighty pageview (they sell advertising based on pageviews – we don’t, in case you hadn’t noticed).
Searching for “EV RAV4” all I got was a bunch of press release bullshit. If I didn’t already KNOW there are thousands of people out there building their own EVs, I might think the only way to get an electric RAV4 would be to come up with fifty grand and make a trip to California. If you ask me, that is NOT OK.
So I did some digging around. There’s this website called EVAlbum, which has almost 3,500 DIY EV conversions cataloged. Some are done by professional shops (the hot rod shops of the future, by the way), most are done by regular gearheads just like us. You can search by make or location. It’s really cool. You should totally check it out.
In the meantime, here’s some of the electric RAV4s already on the road I found on EVAlbum.
A couple of these, above, might have originally been converted by Toyota, but that’s not the point. The point is, we have the ability to make our own EVs right now. Regardless your view of oil supply and demand, it’s a safe bet to expect fuel prices to continue to climb, while EV and renewable energy technology gets better and cheaper.
20 years ago, radio controlled cars ran for 4-5 minutes on an hour’s battery charge. Today, everyone’s running brushless motors, digital controllers, and lithium ion battery packs. Those same toys now run for the better part of an hour on a single charge, faster and more reliably than ever before. That’s exciting. And it’s coming to our driveways relatively soon.
- At what fuel price do you think you would look into driving an EV?
- Would you buy or build an EV? Which one?