Grass Valley man transforms Porsche into electric ‘go-cart’
July 23, 2010
Terry Brown considers himself to be a pretty and#8220;green guy.and#8221; After seeing and#8220;An Inconvenient Truthand#8221; a couple of years ago, the Grass Valley financial advisor and musician, who has solar panels at his home and office, decided he wanted a completely electric vehicle.
Several years and many hours later, you’ll definitely see the bright yellow car sliding up next to you, but you won’t hear it.
and#8220;This is my baby,and#8221; Brown said of his now-100 percent-electric Porsche. and#8220;My big go-cart.and#8221;
When Brown began the project, resources were scarce: Hybrid and electric cars were just gaining popularity. The most viable way for him to obtain an electric vehicle was to build it himself.
and#8220;I’d never worked on a car in my life,and#8221; the former Executive Director of Music in the Mountains said. and#8220;It was a huge leap of faith.and#8221;
Hunting online, Brown found ElectroAuto, a Santa Cruz-based company that sells kits to make cars electric. Not a car aficionado, Brown chose the Porsche 914 kit over the generic version, thinking it would be easier to work with a specific model.
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Brown purchased a Porsche 914 for the transformation and#8211; the dismantled car would have been a nightmare for most, but perfect for Brown, who knew it would have to be torn apart in the conversion process.
After two years of working almost every weekend, the Porsche was electric.
Nicknamed the and#8220;Volts Porsche,and#8221; Brown’s commuter car runs on 18 batteries and boasts a bike rack (and#8220;My spare tire,and#8221; he joked), as well as a piece of wood for the emergency brake.
Driving a completely electric vehicle takes some adjusting.
On a flat road, the Porsche can reach speeds of 60 to 65 miles per hour, but it has a hard time on hills. Brown can detail the flattest way to get anywhere in Western Nevada County.
and#8220;It’s a Porsche. It’s supposed to be zippy,and#8221; Brown said of the funny stares he receives as he crawls along.
The car doesn’t provide heat, and needs to be charged for eight hours in order to cover 40 to 50 miles.
The only assistance Brown received with the vehicle was hiring a mechanic to work on the axles and wheels, as well as putting in stronger shock absorbers and#8211; the batteries Brown uses to power the car result in a 600 pound weight gain. The additional help was fine by Brown, who doesn’t like grease.
He thought his electric Porsche could make it easily to Sacramento or Tahoe, but the hills make that almost impossible, he said.
Brown hasn’t run into many problems with the Porsche, save for the speed and a 2009 corroded battery that kept it off the road for three months.
His electric bill went up $100 a year once he started charging the car; quite a discernible cost savings as opposed to fueling up regularly.
and#8220;All of my fellow Rotarians laugh at the green guy with the electric car,and#8221; he said jovially.
Knowing how big of a project it would be, would he do it again? and#8220;Probably not,and#8221; Brown admitted. But if he didn’t? Definitely.
and#8220;It’s the kind of guy I am,and#8221; Brown said, throwing a sheet from a thrift store over the open convertible top. and#8220;I believe there’s not much I can’t do.and#8221;