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Green Conversions on Used Cars: More Logical for Fleets

Although the sticker price on new EVs and hybrids still causes many to balk, the idea of converting existing gasoline powered vehicles to pure electric or plug-in hybrids might appear to make sense.

At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, a team has come up with a relatively straightforward ChargeCar conversion kit that can transform a 2001-05 Honda Civic into a pure EV. According to the team that engineered it, the package can be installed by a mechanic in less than two days, plus you can then flog your old gasoline four cylinder engine and transmission to help cover the cost.

However, there’s a catch. Although converting your car might save you over the long term, the cost of the conversion is $24,000 sans donor vehicle, plus unlike new EVs it doesn’t qualify for the federal $7,500 tax credit.

So, even if the donor vehicle costs $6-$7,000, by the time all’s said and done your wallet will still be $30,000 lighter, which means financially, buying a new Nissan Leaf probably makes better sense, at least right now.

Illah Nourbakhsh, co director for the ChargeCar project said that the price of the kit would come down as volume goes up; the problem; is that due to the high purchase cost, that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.


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