EV MacGyver

Written by Erik Haltrecht
Five decades ago, my electrical engineer Father told me how inefficient these fossil fuel, dinosaur cars were and that an electric car would be way more efficient and so much easier to maintain. Together, we envisioned how we could build our own electric car, using the technology we had at our fingertips.

© Erik Haltrecht
© Erik Haltrecht

Fifty five years later, in 2009, I finally gave up waiting for the manufacturers to bring out an electric car, so I went ahead and converted my regular Prius hybrid into a Plug-in Hybrid by adding extra batteries.  My converted Prius now had an extra-large battery that I could plug-in to charge at home and a back-up gas tank that I could fill up at the gas station for longer trips. After this conversion we were only stopping at a gas station about once a month. In fact, last year, my wife went from April to October on the same tank of gas, just by plugging in every night!
Since my wife only drives about 30 Km a day, never ventures onto highways and never drives in the real cold (January to March), we knew that a pure electric vehicle would be perfect for her. We considered converting her Prius plug-in hybrid into a full electric vehicle, but then something big happened.
Tesla produced their magnificent, totally electric Roadster … and then their glorious Model “S”, the best car on the planet. Then Nissan introduced their all-electric LEAF and Mitsubishi started marketing their i-MiEV. Then along came Ford’s Electric Focus and the Smart ForTwo Electric and soon we’ll see BMW’s All Electric i3 and i8. So, I chickened out from spending some $10,000 on additional batteries for my Prius modifications and opted for a proven design from Nissan: a new 2012 Burgundy LEAF, model SL with Navigation, a small Photo Cell to charge my 12V battery, Bluetooth, “magic-entry” and even a fast 400 Volt DC Charger, which means when I find a fast charger I can recharge 80% of my battery in 20 minutes.
With a big incentive from the Ontario government, a recent price cut from Nissan, and some good bargaining with the dealer, I managed to get nearly $20,000 off the List Price, paying only $22,000 for my electric LEAF. How could I possibly walk away from that?
And, besides, the salesman offered me free oil changes for the life of the car, free exhaust system and even free gas for the life of this all-electric car!! (of course, none of these expenses or pollutants are actually needed with an EV).
With a range of 160 km, it turns out pure electric suits my lifestyle, so last July 2013, for my birthday, I took delivery of my birthday present from me to me. I drove home in absolute silence … no engine noise; no engine vibration. Just silent power from an absolutely silent but powerful electric motor. I even turned off the radio, just so that I could hear … nothing.
If you live in Toronto, don’t miss your opportunity to test drive an electric car on May 24 at Yonge and Dundas square www.evday.ca