BENJAMIN NELSON: Oconomowoc, WI
Converted a motorcycle and a car with no previous EV conversion experience
When I first saw "Who Killed the Electric Car?" I couldn’t help but cry a little. It was so sad to see not only all the wasted work that went into the EV-1 and other electric cars, but just how our culture is generally so wasteful and dependent on fossil fuels. Thus started my revenge.
I went to a summer energy fair and saw how easy it was to build an electric bicycle with a kit. A week later, I was cruising all over town on my E-bicycle instead of a car. Unfortunately, car drivers still gave me no respect, not realizing how fast I was riding on what looking like a grandma 10-speed. And pot holes weren’t fun with no suspension and the extra weight of the batteries... If only I had something that looked fast, had high visibility in traffic for safety, and had better suspension.
The next summer, I built my own electric motorcycle, using off-the-shelf parts, and painted it bright yellow to match the batteries. It had great acceleration and didn’t need mufflers! I even played around with building in some speakers to play various engine sound effects! My cycle could be as quite or loud as I wanted it to be. (I even had the George Jetson flying car sound effect loaded in there!) When winter hit, it meant I had to give up the EV motorcycle and go back to a gas car. But by then, I had the experience and confidence to convert a car to electric. Keep in mind that I never took an auto shop class in high school, and I had NO background in electronics, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me!
The following summer, I built my own electric car using salvaged and used parts, and an Open Source controller. With no experience and only $1300 total spent, I had my own electric car! I returned to the energy fair, this time as a presenter, teaching how ANYONE can build their own electric car. My presentation was the biggest single workshop at the biggest energy fair in the country!
Since then, I’ve given presentations all over on electric vehicle construction and have over 1.5 million views on my YouTube account, teaching from my driveway with a home camcorder. I’m a founding member of our local EV club, and routinely win prizes at car and motorcycle shows, usually in a category of all my own. My motorcycle has directly inspired no less than half a dozen people to build their own electric Kawasakis, Harleys, and Goldwings.
Folks have ordered hundreds of copies of my electric car and electric motorcycle instructional DVDs. I’m currently working on getting PV to charge my electric vehicles, and am using a salvaged UPS with my motorcycle to power my entire house in a blackout. I even once got a speeding ticket in my electric car, but that’s a different story.... Read more on my adventures in clean transportation on my blog! http://300mpg.org/