If you don’t feel up to a do-it-yourself conversion project but you still like the idea of driving an electric vehicle, consider buying a new or used factory-made EV instead. Here are a few worthy of a test drive.
EXV2 & ECV4. Minnesota-based E-ride Industries offers the EXV2 (a utility EV akin to a small pickup) and the ECV4 (a neighborhood electric vehicle, NEV, that resembles a mini-Hummer). A 72-volt lead-acid battery bank delivers a maximum range of 55 miles and a top speed of 35 mph. www.e-ride.com
GEMs. Global Electric Motorcars is well known for its curvy and futuristic fiberglass bodies. GEM vehicles have a range of about 30 miles and a top speed of 25 mph. Prices for GEMs range from $7,000 to $20,000, depending on passenger seating and options. www.gemcar.com
Tesla Roadster. The 2008 Tesla Roadster is newly in production—a great relief to those on the waiting list. The lithium-ion battery pack gives this all-electric sports car a purported 220-mile range on a single charge, with a top speed of 125 mph—but the $100,000 price tag is not for everyone. www.teslamotors.com
Factory-built rides. Chevy S10s, Ford Rangers, Toyota RAV4s, and Th!nk Citys are reliable and well-made vehicles that were manufactured during the mid-1990s through 2003. Vehicles in good working order can command prices between $30,000 and $40,000—or more.
Small-company production cars. EVs converted by small companies—including the Lectric Leopard and the Solectria Force (formerly the Renault LeCar and the Geo Metro, respectively) and Ford Escorts and Couriers converted by Jet Industries—have some operational quirks but make decent vehicles with some upgrades and reconfigurations.
Kit-built conversion cars. Vehicles converted by individuals with universal kits or custom kits—such as converted Chevy S10 trucks, Geo Metros, Dodge Neons, Volkswagen Rabbits, and Porsche 914s—range in price from a few hundred dollars to $10,000, depending on condition.
Custom-built EVs. A mishmash of old and new components come together in owner-built EV conversions that range in size, quality, and reliability. These can make great fixer-uppers, but it’s typically easier to do a conversion from scratch than to upgrade one of these cars.
Where To Shop
Craigslist • www.craigslist.org
eBay • www.motors.ebay.com
Electric Auto Association • www.eaaev.org
EV Finder • www.evfinder.com
EV Tradin’ Post • www.austinev.org/evtradinpost
For more information on used EVs, see “Finding & Buying a Used Electric Vehicle,” in HP119.