By John DeFore
While this past weekend’s Los Angeles Auto Show had autophiles lusting after tomorrow’s hot wheels, a very different California event just celebrated a company working to make yesterday’s cars a lot greener.
The winner in the Transportation division of this month’s California Clean Tech Open was a San Francisco company called ElectraDrive whose products are aimed at drivers for whom electric vehicles can’t arrive quickly enough. The company’s “ElectraMount” is made to “rapidly and inexpensively adapt almost any passenger vehicle to electric drive.” Designed to fit in a variety of vehicles without custom welding or metalwork, the electric engine is simply installed in the place of a gas drivetrain and is said to “cut operating costs by a factor of ten,” translating to a cost of 3 to 4 cents per mile in city driving.
Initially, the company is targeting government and businesses that operate fleets of cars. Expected to be available next year, the conversion will cost $20,000 — a price that institutional customers may find desirable if they believe the company’s projection. Using their math, the cost of an electric drivetrain financed for five years at 7% interest would be cost-efficient; outweighed by monthly fuel savings. (For this example, the company used operating costs associated with an SUV. Further cost-projection details can be seen here.)
Eventually, the company intends to reach economies of scale allowing them to sell conversions to regular consumers for $10,000. Their progress toward that goal should be aided by the Clean Tech prize, a $100,000 “Start-up in a Box” package combining a cash award with business benefits from an array of local organizations.
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