They will convert your fuel consumer into an EV. But be prepared to wait

Los Angeles: Mark Wagner wasn’t sure what he enjoyed more: the look he gets when he pulls his old Volkswagen head into an EV charger parking lot, or the look he gets because of what he does next.

A Wagner rolled off the Volkswagen Beetle assembly line in 1962, the year Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev played nuclear brinkmanship with President Kennedy.

But Wagner’s Bug no longer carries an upgraded Cold War-era engine with 40 horsepower and a 12.5-gallon fuel tank. It has been replaced by a Curtis C-50 Brushless electric motor and part of an 85 kWh battery pack that was flushed from a Tesla Model S.

“People see a classic car like this pulling into the cargo space, it’s like, ‘Okay, this hoopla gets in the way of the charger,'” said Wagner, 46. But then I open the back, pull the charging cord and plug it in, and then it’s like, ‘Wait – that’s an electrician? Can I see it?’

With gasoline prices soaring to nosebleed levels and concerns about climate change and pollution, interest in electric cars is greater than ever based on Google search trends. Mike Spaniola, chief executive of the specialty equipment market at Assn, said supply chain problems have led to a shortage of new electric vehicles, driving up prices for used cars.

As a result, Spaniola said, converting internal combustion-engine cars to electric vehicles is “more common,” particularly for classic car owners. “It’s a market that will continue to grow in 2022.”

“These are people who love their cars and want to keep driving them, without worrying about the scarcity of parts for these old cars,” said Spaniola. “It’s about extending their life, and sometimes, it’s about having less impact on the environment.”

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk can probably buy any car on the market, and he already owns a Tesla Model S and Lucid Air, among others. But he said one of his favorites is the 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, a black with red interior, which he got in 2004, after retiring from skateboard competitions.

“It was the first great looking sports car I saw when I was little, and it reminded me of a Batmobile,” Hawk said. “I told myself I would buy one when I got older if I could afford it.” But lately, driving a car has become an exercise in frustration, so Hawk decided to convert the car to electric.

“As much as I love the Mopar transmission, it was always a hassle to start with, and I couldn’t drive it more than 20 miles without worrying about it breaking,” he said.

Car enthusiasts like Wagner and Hawk are fueling a boom in electric vehicle conversion, but there aren’t enough companies to meet demand. Sometimes the waiting lists are for two years.

For EV West, one of the West Coast’s most popular electric and internal combustion vehicle stores, it’s much longer than that.

“Our store has a five-year waiting list,” said Michael Brim, owner of EV West, who started his company 13 years ago, partly inspired—you guessed it—from an earlier jump in fuel prices.

“If you call us and say, ‘Hey, Michael. I totally want to convert this car. “We can’t get you in, so we’ll have to send you to one of our sister stores” that EV West works with on a collaborative basis, Brim said.

One recent afternoon, Hawk’s car was in a car lift at EV West’s San Marcos headquarters outside San Diego. This is also where the conversion of Wagner’s 62 Beetle took place at a cost of $32,000 (RM139,312).

A typical transfer starts around US$18,000 (RM78,363), Bream said. Some of the more expensive versions, for high performance, can exceed 30 thousand US dollars (130,605 MYR).

For comparison, the price of the 2022 Toyota Prius starts at 24,625 USD (107,204 MYR); 2022 Chevrolet Bolt starting at $31,500 USD (RM137,135); The 2022 Tesla Model 3 starts at $41,940 (RM182,585). But supply chain problems have led to a shortage of semiconductors, which means it is difficult to find new electric vehicles in some markets.

After the conversion, Bream said, maintenance became primarily a matter of maintaining the old parts of the car, which can be handled by the average car mechanic.

Converting an electric vehicle is complex and time-consuming; It’s not just about dropping an electric motor and battery and sending the customer on his way. Each type of car, truck or van requires its own complex solution.

Bream assembled a large number of parts on site and uses 3D printers to manufacture other parts and finishes that give a sense that everything belongs. Some analog fuel tank gauges exist, but now “F” to “E” reports how much battery charge is left.

For example, “This Corvette is fiberglass,” Brim said of the Hawk. “You don’t want to cut it. You don’t want to alter it. You want to keep it as original as possible.”

Bream said the company’s engineers and technicians used a bolt-on assembly that contained the Tesla Model S motor for part of the installation.

“This way you can also go back to burning,” he said. “It’s important that we keep the transfers reversible. So we didn’t take any value from the car.”

Customers seeking to convert at EV West have an initial decision to make. One option is to get a hot rod conversion, like that of the Hawk.

“We’ve pulled the whole rear out,” Brim said. “We’re doing a bunch of different things on the front of the car. We’re swapping out the entire drivetrain.”

“But the majority of what we do is convert the classic car,” which sharply limits the amount of new components and keeps as much of the original as possible, he said, using the 1969 Karmann Ghia as an example.

“The majority of the drivetrain on this car will be original, like the clutch system, and the transmission, so you can still change gears,” Brim said. “We’re doing this for a lot of customers who want to keep as much of the original platform as possible.”

Bream is a tough guy to spot. He drives an electric car, has solar panels on the rooftop and enough storage batteries inside that generates more energy than his business needs, but don’t call him an environmentalist. Putting electric vehicles on the road is a secondary or possibly a third effect.

“I care about the environment,” Prem said. “But I’m a fan of spicy food, and I’m the son of a hot guy.” “We are not environmentalists. We are here to save the cars.

“I can’t come forward as an environmental activist while we’re still out doing a 200-foot burn. If we’re environmentalists, I tell my client what to do. We’re just going to let the dessert relax on the table and let people sink in for their own reasons.”

With the shortage continuing to affect most aspects of the supply chain, it may seem likely that there will be stiff competition among conversion companies for the most valuable batteries, which Tesla makes. But there seems to be no shortage of Tesla owners who have gone out and seriously damaged their cars, while managing not to damage the batteries.

“There’s no competition, because everyone is really busy,” Brim said. “We’ve helped the other stores in their first buildings to help them get into this business.” “We’re on good terms with most other stores. We’re all on the same page, just trying to make fun electric cars.”

The lure of electrification is also strong for owners of diesel commercial vehicles, which remains well above the average price per gallon of regular gasoline. Diesel averaged $6.36 a gallon in California on Friday compared to regular gasoline at $5.69 (RM24.77), according to the AAA.

Ralph Biasi, perhaps best known for his work as a producer and host of the television show I got back On Motor Trend, he has more work than he can do at Titan Car Restoration in Commerce.

“I have a backlog of two years of work,” Biasi said. “I’m not taking any new clients at the moment, because I already have a lot on deck, in line waiting for the restoration to finish.”

Most of his company’s electric vehicle conversions are for commercial vehicles, with customers including Adidas and Nike.

For a recent conversion of a Canadian mining company pickup truck, “they needed the batteries to fit between the frame rails under the truck’s trunk, but there was no commercially available one,” Biasi said. “Everything had to be scanned in 3D. I had all the (computer aided design) drawings for the space between the frame rails, and I had, basically, a custom battery box for that.”

For the Beetle ragtop, Mark Wagner wanted to imitate the original as closely as possible, and the interior was carefully upgraded.

“The gas gauge is now the battery monitor,” Wagner, 46, said. “They also gave me these knobs that have a real vintage feel to them.” Bream said there is about a third of a Tesla battery pack in VW.

The vehicle’s 100-mile range, when driven discreetly, is sufficient for use as a daily driver, to and from work and errands. He’s gone to Big Bear from his home in Irvine. A single charge takes him to the base of the mountain, where he stops to eat and relax a bit while charging his car for the last 30 miles uphill.

“It’s my forever car,” Wagner said.

Tony Hawk has some very specific plans for the first thing he wants to do with his final Corvette Stingray conversion. Asked where he might lead it first, Hawk said “To and from my half-pipe!” – Los Angeles Times/News-Tribune Service

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