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#1154 Hey, car giants, this 14-year-old built a cheap electric car. Your turn

1972 VW Beetle

Same vintage (but not the same vehicle) of VW Beetle Stark turned into an electric car; photo by Michael Spiller from Bradford, UK (1972 VW Beetle Uploaded by oxyman) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

So what’s all this nonsense from the big car manufacturers about super expensive electric cars? This 14-year-old made one out of his grandfather’s 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. According to Tree Hugger, the budding engineer spent about $4000 to turn the 40+-year-old bug into an electric car that can travel 50 miles (80 km) on 10 cents worth of electricity.

Ashton Stark was too young to drive when media caught wind of his coup back in 2010, but the Oregon teenager had figured out how to combine nine golf-cart batteries with a motorized shaft and transform the trusty old Beetle into an electric car. He told National Public Radio his electric vehicle could reach speeds of 45 miles per hour with a full charge and said, “You can convert almost any lightweight vehicle to electric. VWs and Porches work the best for electric, though.”

Stark rigged up the vehicle with an onboard computer to gather performance data, but I didn’t find any update on his findings. Still, I am struck by this young man’s green thinking and innovative tinkering. Ingenuity, a few thousand dollars, and an old Beetle turned a high school project into a clever DIY scheme.

If more do-it-yourselfers started engineering low-cost electric cars, the future of affordable, lower impact vehicles might actually start bringing them, and other kinds of transportation solutions, within reach of people without deep pockets.

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