Woman from New Zealand builds her own electric car

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Woman from New Zealand builds her own electric car
Woman from New Zealand builds her own electric car

A 29-year-old wreck in New Zealand has been converted into a homemade electric vehicle “to show it can be done.”

For the past three years, Rosemary Penwarden has been driving her converted vehicle around South Island roads. It took her and a friend more than eight months of hard work and tinkering to complete the project. “You have to be a little crazy,” she said. “I’d like to thank the oil companies for providing motivation.”

Penwarden purchased a 1993 car body from a wrecker and removed the combustion engine herself. She replaced it with a new gearbox and electric engine, then packed batteries in the front and back of the car – 24 under the hood and 56 in the boot.

Penwarden spent $24,000 (£12,300) on the project in total, including labor. The vehicle has been fully signed off and warranted. Her project was recently brought to the attention of local reporters after several years on the road.

Hagen Bruggemann, a refrigeration engineer who assisted Penwarden in converting her car, has now converted about eight cars to electric engines. “You can talk all you want about the environment, but you have to do something about it,” he says.

He claims that without free labor, converting a car is not a financially viable option for most people – but there is a strong commercial case for converting trucks and larger vehicles, where the body is worth far more than the engine. He claims that converting a diesel truck will pay for itself in five years.

 

Penwarden spent $24,000 (£12,300) on the project in total, including labor. The vehicle has been fully signed off and warranted. Her project was recently brought to the attention of local reporters after several years on the road.

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Hagen Bruggemann, a refrigeration engineer who assisted Penwarden in converting her car, has now converted about eight cars to electric engines. “You can talk all you want about the environment, but you have to do something about it,” he says.

He claims that without free labor, converting a car is not a financially viable option for most people – but there is a strong commercial case for converting trucks and larger vehicles, where the body is worth far more than the engine. He claims that converting a diesel truck will pay for itself in five years.

 

Penwarden, a long-time environmental activist, says the time and money she spent converting her car aren’t for everyone – “I’m in a very privileged place” – but as the world adapts to the climate crisis, she wanted to demonstrate the possibility. She charges the car at her solar-powered residence.

While Penwarden believes the car will pay for itself (she used to spend up to $100 per week on gasoline for commuting), she claims it is not a cost-cutting exercise and has called on the government to support conversions. “Just to be able to demonstrate that it can be done is priceless,” she says. “The most important thing is to help stop the biggest polluters as soon as possible – and there is nothing we can do about it.”