RSS Entries ATOM Entries

Local EV conversion: building knowledge and negotiating hurdles

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on January 31st, 2013

Source: The Age

Photo courtesy the Age article.
Photo from
The Age article.

From “Hey, charger – an electric Capri that’s full of spark” by Deborah Gough.

MARIO Giannattilio’s dream to convert a petrol car with his son Michael has become an electric reality. The pair set themselves a goal to convert a clapped-out, petrol-thirsty Ford Capri into a silent, emission-free electric car. In its infancy, the project was featured by Fairfax Media last year, as the Giannattilios worked on the conversion in their home garage at Glen Iris. They are part of a small but growing number of backyard technology and environment enthusiasts who are converting petrol cars to electric power in their sheds and garages.

Armed with advice on potential pitfalls from the Alternative Technology Association’s electric vehicles interest group, the Giannattilios set themselves a deadline of 100 weekends to complete their project. The car itself was ready in 96 weekends and, after a few bureaucratic hurdles, it is now registered for the road. ”I think it’s because authorities are used to dealing with petrol cars and used to dealing with hybrid cars, but not with fully electric cars,” Mr Giannattilio said. ”There was a lot of head scratching because it is unusual to have a fully electric car.” When new cars are built, manufacturers place a serial number on a combustion engine, but replacing the original motor with an electric motor poses challenges with the number. ”We were aware that it would come up as an issue and kept the [electric] engine’s serial number, which was accepted as part of the registration,” Mr Giannattilio said.

The last hurdle was at a VicRoads office, where Mr Giannattilio tried to claim $100 off the registration cost, a benefit hybrid car owners enjoy. ”They weren’t going to give me the $100 off, which is ridiculous because my car uses no petrol and a hybrid still uses some petrol,” Mr Giannattilio said. He eventually got the discount, but only after registering the car as a hybrid.

Michael, 13, hopes to be an engineer and will study physics at high school next year. Mr Giannattilio said the project gave his son hands-on experience of how physics is applied in the real world. Michael will already know about LED refracted light, used in newer BMWs, after the pair put it into their Ford Capri’s bumper bar. ”Michael can’t wait to drive it, but he is only 13, so it will have to be on a track,” Mr Giannattilio said. He said he was close to his son and the joint project gave them an opportunity to talk about much more than electricity and mechanics. ”When you are working together and talking about the work you are doing, you get to talk about things that happen in life outside the garage. The bond obviously becomes stronger,” he said.

>>> You can read the original article on The Age website.
>>> You can learn more about the Alternative Technology Association’s electric vehicles interest group on their website.

Comments are closed.