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Old 01-19-2011, 12:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Need Feedback on starting a vehicle conversion shop (EV's, PHEV, bio-diesel etc.)

I am looking at getting a conversion shop/center started and I need feedback/suggestions on whether or not my business plan is accurate, economical, or even possible.

My Goal is to have a mechanic shop that can convert regular vehicles to either, EV's, Diesel Hybrids, Gas Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrids. A Bio-diesel Plug in Hybrid would be the best model, but are such conversions possible, economically?

To cut down costs I would try to manufacture as many custom parts as possible.

Government Grants will be ideal, to help with start up costs and technology innovations. Having University Co-op programs available for engineering students will help with getting the rants. Also hiring recently graduated students in this field will not only benefit the shop with cutting-edge knowledge it would again help with funding from organizations.

Before I get started with a serious business plan and start applying for more funding than I already have, I want to know if this is at all possible, or at least a good idea and worth a shot.

Problems/difficulties I am aware of already:
Cost and availability of diesel engines
Labor/time costs
Custom machinist difficulties
Hiring/Finding a Head Engineer Mechanic (an expert)
Market Economics (will it even be worth the conversion costs with current hybrids and EV's now being sold on the market today and in the near future)

I know there are many more difficulties and challenges. I would appreciate as much feedback, help, criticism an I can get.

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Old 01-19-2011, 12:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Have you done any of these conversions yet yourself? That would give you a pretty good idea of the cost & complexities involved.

You can research EV conversion costs fairly comprehensively by studying the data in the EV Album: EV Photo Album: Our Electric Cars on the Web

There is likely a lot of information available to the Googler about bio-diesel conversions available as well, since those kits are commercially available already and lots of people have documented their own conversions.
Honda mods: Ecomodding my $800 Honda Fit 5-speed beater
Mitsu mods: Oops, I did it again! Bought another cheap, 3-cylinder Mirage. Mods in progress...
Ecodriving test: Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown

has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage
www.MetroMPG.com - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners
www.ForkenSwift.com - electric car conversion on a beer budget
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm currently looking into working with the local University in their hybrid vehicle engineering program, which will give me more experience. This spring I plan on converting my own vehicle myself. But I'm more interested in opinions concerning whether or not this is a good idea economically, since the conversion costs will be competing with current, and more importantly future hybrids and EV's being sold on the market. This may not be a sustainable business, since future technology advances may make conversions not even worth the effort. Though converting older hybrid/EV vehicles to more efficient hybrid/EV vehicles could and will have to be the next step in the business.
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Old 01-24-2011, 06:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I would agree with the already stated comments you need to have done several projects yourself before anyone will trust you to work on theirs. Most custom shops start with one thing and branch out from there.

Pick a specialty and go with it, for example I just purchased a custom exhaust for a 97 Landcrusier the shop emspowered.com started with a guy that was on the Toyota forum that made a system for himself and a friend tested came out with a better design and solda few to people on the forums. Several years pass he still has his jig and builds them he has branched out and does other LC and Mr2 items. emspowered.com is who I am talking about look at their site and you can see the pattern of where they started and where they are now.

Maybe start with a normal shop doing basic repairs call it an Eco-tune and have your EV project or Bio project in progress. Make sure you know your state laws, some states don't allow motor swaps like that. In my area you must guarntee inspection after doing a motorswap.

Good luck to you
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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How do you even know that your ideas will work? it's easy to put something down on paper but you need to know that you can put ideas in to action.
like my electric motorcycle project, I plan to start with one brand/model of motorcycle and more or less make a kit that only works with that motorcycle but has upgrade options, you could easily do something like that with cars, pick a car that is popular with people who want to get better mileage, learn everything you can about that car and the options for modifications that can be made to it, as time goes on do that for other models of car as well.
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would also add that you need to know what the emissions laws are regarding the kind of work you plan to do. Installing a diesel engine that was never approved by the government in a gasoline vehicle is probably a violation of the Clean Air Act. You might get away with it as an individual who operates their car in a state that has no inspections, but once you start doing it on a commercial basis things change. After all, the US EPA is concerned with NoX emissions changes far more than it is CO2 and diesel tends to have higher NOX than gas.
No green technology will ever make a substantive environmental impact until it is economically viable for most people to use it. This must be from a reduction in net cost of the new technology, not an increase in the cost of the old technology through taxation

(Note: the car sees 100% city driving and is EPA rated at 37 mpg city)
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I pick a VW ALH TDI engine in a plug-in Toyota Prius. Make sure to include a coolant heater to maintain engine temperature when the diesel is off.
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I would look at putting other kits/engines that are alreay made into peoples cars and having the only custom part be the installation.

Tons of Jeep/offroad shops drop in Hemis/ wacko suspension setups etc. but all the parts are generally commercially available, just getting them to fit is the hard part.

I think being able to source your parts and focus on the installation opposed to fabrication will be better for you.

that way your customers are paying for parts (engines transmissions etc. + 30-40 hours labor) instead of 200-400 hours of labor which quickly gets out of peoples price range. It also minimizes your turnaround time which means more happy customers driving instead of waiting vehicle-less...
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Old 03-10-2011, 01:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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ev shop, greetings,

i've got a 2001 chevy s-10 for your first vehicle, i live here in the binghamton,ny area, i represent a renewable energy company ( renaissance developer's ) and a renewable energy group, called REIN - RENEWABLE ENERGY INFORMATIONAL NETWORK. we do alternative energy workshops & seminars in broome , chenango, tioga counties. libraries, waterman's conservation, earthfestivals,
in different cities, & towns, and i am in need of an ev. for displays only to show for seminars , and will give person vehicle in exchange for guarantee of shows. throughout the year.. thanks Q.

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