Anybody who lives in Los Angeles knows that you are dependent upon your car. You eat, drink, put on your make-up, write your emails, text your friends, and make your business phone calls all while stuck in your five-mile/45 minute commute. Imagine if you could do all that in your Mercedes or BMW and not have to burn one ounce of gas.
Well, that is a possibility. I came across this company called AC Propulsion. They have been taking gas-fueled cars and converting them to electric. They have converted Volkswagens, BMW's, and pick-up trucks, but their most popular conversion has been the Scion xB to the eBox. The eBox looks exactly like the gas version of the Scion xB on the outside, but the internal parts are very different.
AC Propulsion takes out the gas tank, exhausts system, entire fuel system, and engine and replaces it with an electric motor, power electronics unit, and a big battery. That's it. All of a sudden you are driving an electric car. What sets these electric cars apart from the others is the range.
"The eBox can easily go 120 miles on a full charge. That's just driving it normally on the street or freeway. If you're a really good driver, careful driver, and efficient driver, the record so far is 170 miles," says AC Propulsion's CEO Tom Gage.
One of the problems with other electric cars is that on a full charge, the range was only about 50 miles. The eBox is able to go the extra mile because of regenerative braking, which is similar to the system in a Prius. This basically means that the car slows down by using the electric motor, which then generates electricity and recharges the battery. I was actually able to drive one of these cars, and at first I felt like the worst driver in the world because it takes a minute to get used to not having to ever use the brake. But after five minutes, it's as if you have been driving that way your whole life.
The eBox uses laptop computer batteries to make up the main electronic unit. These are the best and cheapest batteries because they are made at such a high volume.
Tom Gage says, "These batteries have a lot of energy, they're very light, they give very good power and they don't cost too much compared to other batteries... and we take 5,000 of those and put them in a certain specific way so that they're strong and all connected."
Probably one of the best things about the eBox is how easy it is to charge. The car plugs into any household jack. If you get stuck somewhere, you could pull into any store or gas station, plug in your vehicle for 30 minutes and get enough power for 50 more miles.
Eco-friendly actor, Tom Hanks, is one of the only celebrities to have this car. He was also one of the first people to own this car.
"I have almost 5,000 miles on this car and that's 5,000 miles without a penny going to an oil company or out of my pocket," Tom Hanks says. "I don't want to pay money for gas. It's as simple as that. A huge number of households in America are 2 or 3 car families, such as mine. Why wouldn't one of those be an electric car, which you never pay a dollar for gasoline? The only reason you stop at a gas station is to get a big gulp or beef jerky."
Electric cars are extremely reliable. There are only three moving parts. Not much can go wrong with only three parts except for a possible glitch in the software somewhere. That means less money and hassle for you in long run. Imagine never having to go to a Jiffy Lube ever again? Freedom!
There are some people out there that believe that driving an electric car or hybrid isn't actually helping save the planet or "going green" because of the batteries. Once the batteries die, what happens to them? Contrary to popular belief, companies are focusing on ways to recycle them. One example is with the Tesla's Electric Roadster batteries. According to treehugger.com, the batteries were made in Japan under very strict environmental laws. Technically, they could be land filled, even though they are not. They do not contain any heavy metals or toxic materials.
Treehugger.com says, "In practice, the cells are sent to a hammer mill that turns them into pulp. They then separate the elements and re-use what can be re-used (cobalt, aluminum, nickel, and copper, etc). So the battery pack saves thousands of gallons of gasoline/diesel over the life of the vehicle, it is less toxic than the lead-acid batteries that are in regular cars, and at the end of its life it is recycled."
The eBox uses computer batteries, which are more eco-friendly than your generic AAA battery. It may just be the cleanest car out there.
Unfortunately, it's pretty expensive to convert your car. It costs $55,000 for the conversion, but that includes a one-year warranty. Just like anything else in this world, if the demand is high, the price will lower. Obviously the average American can't afford to convert their car, but there is a lot of interest in it. Numerous people have said that they would convert their car in a second if it were more affordable.
The majority of the planet is not going to be driving electric cars next year or even in 20 years. So for all those gas companies, auto shops, and car part manufacturers who are worried about going out of business, it's not going to happen anytime soon. There's no reason to kill another electric car.
Watch this story with video here.