Converted a Fiat, starting a conversion/kit company



Since I was a kid, I was interested in everything electric. I remember wanting to build some kind of electric transportation when I was living in the Soviet Union as a fourteen year old. I started thinking about “real” electric cars again a few years ago when I first heard of Tesla motors. Being right out of grad school I could only dream of owning the $120K sports car beauty, but the idea was planted. In fact, about a year ago my wife and I got in line for Tesla Model S.

But our delivery date is sometime in 2013 and we want to drive electric now. After thinking about it a bit, we have decided not to march to someone else's drums and just do it ourselves. Last December, we bought our donor car - a 1977 Fiat 124 Spider. I have always had a soft spot for Italian cars and the right kind of rust-free, bright-red beauty just came along.

Being a performance car fan (my other car is a tuned 400hp BMW), I wanted to build something that I could show off and maybe even take to the race track now and then! I know that the majority of EV conversions are done on a tight budget and can therefore be underpowered relative to their gasoline donors. I think that the image of EVs suffers in some peoples' minds because of this, so I really wanted to make a car that people would look at and say "I WANT AN ELECTRIC CAR TOO!"

After a lot of online research, talking to a lot of people, and spending ~150 hours in my garage over 2.5 months (with the help of my friends), we now have a brand new high-performance electric car! As planned, it is way faster than a stock Fiat Spider. In fact, it is faster than 90% of the cars on the road – with 0-60 below 6 seconds. Using the latest lithium technology, it’s getting a 100 mile range from just 450lb of batteries! Building an electric car is definitely changing my life. Of course, there’s the pure joy of ‘sticking it’ to oil companies and saving money on fuel.

But the greatest impact is the realization that EV conversion may be a great alternative to buying a new car. If the conversion process is made easier, a lot of people will say ‘I love my current car – I just wish it was electric’ and act on it. In fact, my friends and I are launching a company that will do just that: turn-key conversions for performance-oriented car owners. We will start by targeting BMW owners in California. More details on our projects can be found here. I really hope that electric conversion will be the main "performance tuning" option for people like me who want to juice up their fossil fuel burners!