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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Company Turns Familiar Gas Cars Into Electric Vehicles

Hybrid Technologies Mashup

How would you like to drive an all-electric Mini? An EV Smart Car? A PT Cruiser? With the help of Hybrid Technologies, you can. They’ve taken many familiar vehicles, ripped out their engines, and replaced them with lithium batteries and electric motors.

On the surface it makes great sense and it seems there would be a huge demand for this sort of thing. Electric cars are nearly maintenance free. They don’t need oil changes and they have 90% fewer parts than gas cars. Plus, these EVs look like the normal cars that are already popular with many folks.

Cool. How much will it cost? Glad you asked. How about a slick $40,000 for an all electric Toyota Yaris hatchback? Or $60,000 for the Mini? Come on now, I know you wanted that Beemer, but let’s be realistic, the price of gas is only rising and you never liked going to get oil changes anyways.

Given the savings on fuel and maintenance, the company states that they believe their prices are “competitive” with other vehicles when looked at over a 7 to 10 year time frame. Although this is probably true, I see some issues with their business model.

To start with, I’m guessing that coming up with $60,000 all at once (or even paying $1,200 a month on a 5 year loan at 7% interest) would be out of the realm of “doable” for the demographic typically interested in buying a Yaris, a PT Cruiser, or a Mini.

Secondly, at $60,000, you’re 60% of the way to buying yourself a Tesla Roadster with much better stats (not to mention a status factor light years beyond a mere all-electric PT Cruiser). Chances are, if you have $60,000 you can throw at a vehicle, you probably can manage the stretch to $100,000 as well.

Lastly, I think the company has missed a bigger consumer demand for converting cars that people already own into all-electric vehicles. If you’ve owned something like a PT cruiser for 6 years, you’ve probably paid it off and you might be thinking of buying a new car.

Buying a new car would cost you around $25,000. If the conversion to all-electric costs around $25,000, why not just do that instead? In the process they remove all the parts that tend to break down, you end up with a car that costs pennies per mile to operate, and you’ve essentially recycled your old car.

In 4 years time, I’d do that with my 2007 Yaris in a heartbeat.