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USA; CL&P employee turns Ford Pinto into green car

Posted: Monday, June 11, 2012 10:10 am | Updated: 10:20 am, Mon Jun 11, 2012.
Daniel Jackson | 0 comments
Andrew Kasznay, an electrical engineer for Connecticut Light and Power, drives a Ford Pinto to work. The 1980 Pinto is a rare car on the roads these days because its design made its gas tank susceptible to exploding if rear-ended at high enough speeds.
But Kasznay does not worry about an exploding tank because he removed the gas tank about three years ago and converted his car to run off electricity.
Kasznay’s car was just one of several electric cars showcased in CL&P’s Electric Car Community Day June 1. The Ford Pinto sat alongside more modern electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.
CL&P invited the public to an informational session abut electric cars because they want to educate more people about the cars, “because it really is something new,” said Watson Collins, Manager of Business Development at Northeast Utilities.
Part of the message that day was tell the public electric cars can work as a commuting car and are one of the options in purchasing a car today, Collins said.
Collins said Connecticut was one of the early launch markets for electric cars because the state fits the profile of an ideal place to use an electric car. People in Connecticut generally have higher incomes and are concerned about the environment. The commutes to work are usually shorter, doable for the limited-rage of an electric car before it needs recharging.
While modern electric cars can travel hundreds of miles on one charge, Kasznay’s “homebrew” car can only go 40 miles.
“That’s all I need on a day to day basis,” said Kasznay.
He commutes from Middletown to CL&P in Berlin, where he works. There, he plugs into the charging stations the company provided for electric cars.
Three years ago, a friend tried to renovate the old Pinto but found that the engine wasn’t worth fixing. Kasznay took out the engine and the notorious gas tank and replaced it with batteries.
A look under the hood of his car shows 12, 12-volt batteries wired together and strapped in with zip-ties. His motor, peaking out under rows of batteries, is smaller than the average gas-powered behemoth: it’s slightly larger than a large watermelon.
Kasznay bought his batteries right here in Berlin, at RAE Storage Battery on Demming Road. The lead-acid batteries he installed are inexpensive as batteries go. He could have gone with lithium batteries, the kind commercial electric cars use, and made a more powerful electric car. Lithium batteries would have lightened his car by a third and given him five times the range and battery life.


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