Sunday, February 25, 2007

Front Page story in Burnaby Now newspaper

Almost 'no-cost' batteries appear in Electric Vehicles in Vancouver, BC, Canada..

Click on the image to zoom in. There are two levels of zooming.

Here's the front-page article written by Erin Hitchcock of Burnaby Now
regarding the use of Revived Batteries in an electric vehicle.

Click here to see online article in Burnaby Now's website.

Another article on this electric vehicle ran on the Burnaby News Leader.

Global TV evening news ran the story on this electric vehicle. Here is a link to the Global TV's Vancouver Sun promo ad, featuring revived battteries.

Below is the fulltext of this article:

Old truck runs on 17 batteries

Creative duo resurrect old Hydro vehicle and now it runs like "a little rocket"

By Erin Hitchcock

Staff Reporter

Rob Matthies and Gary Tang own a 1984 GMC Sierra S15 that can zip around just as fast as any other vehicle - and it runs off only batteries.

"I was going so fast, I wasn't looking at my speedometer," said Matthies, a sustainable-energy presenter with Solar Power Roadshow. "It goes faster than my Corolla. It's like a little rocket."

The truck, which currently runs off 17 "revived batteries," was modified about 14 years ago for B.C. Hydro.

Tang, a mechanical design engineer, a UBC mechanical engineer and BCIT mechanical technologist, said the truck was converted by the Canadian Electric Vehicle Association for B.C. Hydro.

He and Matthies met four to five years ago at a Perpetual Motion Amateur Inventors and Gadgeteers meeting.

Matthies, who had been looking for an electric vehicle, posted an advertisement online. AccelRate Power Systems Inc., which had since acquired the truck, saw Matthies's advertisement and donated the truck to him in December.

Matthies then contacted Tang.

"He called me one day and asked, 'Do you want to co-own the electric truck?' I agreed. It wasn't quite road-worthy yet," Tang said.

The truck had a few problems when Matthies got it.

The back brakes didn't work, there was rust and it was missing the battery pack.

With the help of Tang, the truck was soon repaired. Matthies has since placed 17 "revived batteries" into the pickup and plans to add more.

"These are revived batteries," Matthies said. "These batteries were going to the recycling process. We rescued them from that process and revived them. We are reusing dead batteries."

Matthies first wanted to build an electric vehicle 20 years ago after becoming interested in the subject.

His main interest is in revived batteries and uses a special process to bring old batteries back to life.

His main mode of transportation is an electric scooter, which has been running on revived batteries for three years.

Tang has been interested in mechanics since he was a kid. In elementary school, he was known as the neighbourhood bike mechanic.

"I would fix anybody's bike for fun. I was fascinated with bikes."

In Grade 9, Tang was inspired by the 1980s go-kart craze to build a lawnmower-powered go-kart by collecting spare parts using a budget of only $40.

Since then, he has created several low-budget projects, including a tandem bicycle made of two old bikes spliced together; three electric bikes; a recumbent trike, with its frame made from scrap metal; a computer numerical control router, made from mostly recycled parts; and wrought- iron furniture, made from inexpensive birch plywood and hot rolled steel.

Tang got interested in electric bikes in 2003 after he test-drove one at the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association's REV show.

A few months later he completed his first electric bike and now uses it to commute.

He said the electric bike costs less than seven cents in electricity for a round trip to work and saves him 20 minutes each way compared to a regular bike commute, with less effort.

Matthies's battery skills and Tang's mechanical expertise were key to getting the truck running. When they start it, it doesn't make a sound and takes off with a slight step on the pedal.

Since the truck only runs off batteries, it is fully electric, not requiring an ounce of gasoline and swiftly gliding down the streets.

"There's no sound. You turn on the engine, there's no sound. It was a very strange feeling (to drive it) because it's very, very quiet. You don't even know if it is on or not."

Tang said the truck can run for 60 to 80 kilometres per charge and can reach a top speed of 120 km/h.

"It's still in the works. There's a lot of development in batteries."

He said electric vehicles are usually created from those with manual transmissions, but once converted they almost feel like automatics.

This truck runs on a manual transmission, but because the truck can reach a high speed in first gear, it runs similar to an automatic. Matthies said most people who drive an electric vehicle keep it in second gear most of the time.

"It's a common model for conversion. Certain truck bodies are easier to work with."

Since the batteries are already used, Matthies and Tang are further helping the environment.

"We're talking about free energy," Matthies said. "We're taking something out of the scrap bin. This is a vehicle that is basically a free ride."

Both Matthies and Tang are fans of Who Killed the Electric Car? and Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth.

"I think GM had to kill its own baby because it's just too sweet of a ride," Matthies said, adding that electric vehicles rarely require repairs so car companies are hesitant to produce them.

He said the RAV 4 electric vehicle was sold for US $30,000 when new. Now, that same vehicle costs US $60,000 used and current new electric vehicles cost about US $100,000.

Matthies said some electric vehicles can be bought for less at about US $70,000, although there are other electric vehicles that aren't as fast, known as "neighbourhood electric vehicles," that can only go about 40 km/h. Those, Matthies said, cost between US $20,000 and $25,000.

"If we are to believe Al Gore, saving the planet has incalculable benefits," he said, adding that people have to be ready to reduce carbon emissions by 90 per cent.

"This is an obvious necessity to save this planet from massive extinction."

Tang said that GM has an electric vehicle, although it's still in the "prototype stage."

"The imported cars are pretty well driving them out of business. U.S. auto companies are feeling this."

He said that, although he isn't sure if electric cars will be the solution to reducing emissions, once better technologies become more mainstream, the cost of electric cars will come down like any other invention.

"The government's going to have to step up and emphasize efficiency."

Those interested in learning more about how to make their own electric vehicles can drop in at the Vancouver Electric Association meeting at BCIT every third Wednesday from 7:30 to 11 p.m.

One man, noted Matthies, has even created an electric sofa.

"It's a totally different technology. You have to forget everything you know about gas cars."

published on 02/23/2007


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mark said...

Electric Bicycles and Electric Scooters

Elmo The Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Guy

This is an excellent blog for electric bicycles. There are not too many around like this. Thanks for making this such an interesting subject. Oh, by the way, Wired Magazine has a great article on hybrid cars this month. (Jan 2008 issue).

God Bless,

mark said...

I just heard a report on the radio that either there was going to be a very high tax or a ban completely on electric scooters and bicycles. I got so damn mad I thought my head was going to break open. The reason for the ban was because of studies showing that the batteries on these vehicles were too volatile and were prone to explosions.

I think they are initially going to say there is a ban when there really isn't one, so that the tax on them won't seem so bad.

Anyway, I wrote an article on the story on my blog at

Murali said...

Good attempt for educating related electric vehicles...

best regards

HEROIC said...

I respect your work very much. Well worded talent goes far in the journalism career. Keep up the good work, so far I've clearly understood and followed up with your writings and I just want to throw some kudos at you, very good to hear people putting their mind to words the clear way :)
Anyways, until the next time I run across your page, c ya' ciao!
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