Converting Old Cars Into Electric and Sustainable Vehicles

by Byron Sheardown

Byron and Monika Sheardown are the proud new owners of the latest electric vehicle in BC. They chose to convert a 2000 Dodge Neon to 100% fully electric. Randy Holmquist and the crew at Canadian Electric Vehicles in Errington BC on Vancouver Island meticulously converted the lame, tame ICE Neon into a Hi-Volt, street legal lighteningbolt.

Its power plant is a 168 volt, 1000 amp 9 inch DC motor with equivalent to 225 horse power. It can lay rubber like a hot rod. On the first installation the motor actually snapped the front axle when Randy punched the accelerator. Using the well-known Zilla brand motor controller Randy tuned down the amps so Byron wouldn’t be replacing future axles. Its chargers are the “brainy” Delta-Q units made in BC.

It plugs into any “home-dryer” outlet so Byron had a 240V outlet installed in his garage and at his work. It recharges in a zippy 2.5 hours! It can be slow charged by a normal 110V outlet if required. It costs about 2 cents per km or $.70 per “fill up.” He’s encouraging some retailers and business associates to install the 240V, 30 amp “dryer” plugs at their businesses where he frequents. The Great Bear Pub at 5665 Kingsway in Burnaby will host a plug for Byron to plug in while having lunch! RONA is also considering the simple installation in its parking lot.

Fourteen DC batteries generate enough power to commute to work, get to local “Green” events and take his 3 year old daughter to daycare. The range is roughly 40 km in the city and 50 km on the highway. The top speed is about 160 km/hr and the car has reached 110 km/hr in second gear during road tests.

Thinking of the future Randy also installed a data port so that a volt-meter can test the status of each battery. With a 12 volt battery charger each battery can be topped up as needed to maintain the battery system balance for long life and full use.

However, once lithium ion batteries are being mass produced, the batteries can simply be replaced and the range should increase to 120 km per charge. The infrastructure to power electric vehicles already exists everywhere; it’s just a matter of accessibility. Most Canadian cities already have outlets in their parking lots at home and work for block heaters to get through the winter. Some stores in Vancouver offer power outlets for EVs and the trend is on for more.

For under $30,000 ($23,000 for the conversion and labour and $6000 for the vehicle) this car proves that “green” powered vehicles are possible now. Conversions are an alternate way to get more electric vehicles on the road and reduce our emissions immediately. EVs are the way of the future for clean, quiet, zero emission vehicles. Byron says, “If my wife and I can do this, then it’s time to start demanding EVs from the large car makers.”

“It’s reassuring to know that I will never need to take this car to a gas station to fill up and further to that I can “refuel” with solar energy, micro hydro, a bio-diesel generator or hell, even a bicycle generator!”


Byron Sheardown manages Horizon Publications, where the Watershed Sentinel is printed on 100% recycled, process-chlorine free paper.

[From WS November/December 2007]

5 Issues/yr — $25 print; $15 digital