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|Electro Automotive, the oldest electric vehicle conversion parts supplier, is celebrating its 30th year in business this year.|
|Electro Automotive was founded during the second gas crisis of 1979 by Michael P. Brown and his business partner, Roger Denault, who later sold his share of the business to Brown. At a time when conversions were built using surplus parts from other applications, such as aircraft starter/generators, Electro Automotive pioneered sourcing and providing current production, purpose built components for home EV conversions. When existing products could not be found, Electro Automotive approached manufacturers about building to suit, such as automotive quality gauges calibrated for EV volts and amps, with a top-pivot needle for improved readability. Shari Prange became a partner in the business in 1983.|
|In 1989, Electro Automotive bought the motor/transmission adaptor business from John Wasylina, one of the elder statesmen of the Electric Auto Association. Over the years, Brown refined the taperlock hub design Wasylina had originated, and expanded his library to well over a hundred model year patterns. From hand drafting, the patterns have progressed to digital capture CADD files and CNC production components unmatched by any other supplier. In fact, Electro Automotive provides adaptors for some of its competitors.|
|Also in 1989, Brown and Prange authored Convert It: A Step-By-Step Manual for Converting An Internal Combustion Vehicle to Electric Power. Now in its third edition, Convert It continues to be the “bible” of electric car conversions, and is often used by schools as a text. During the ‘90s, Electro Automotive produced a line of EV videos as well.|
|In 1991, Electro Automotive produced the first complete custom bolt-in conversion kit, the Voltsrabbit. Unlike the universal kits Electro Automotive also sells, the custom kits are designed to fit a specific chassis, and include all mounting brackets, battery rack and boxes, hardware, wiring and connectors, suspension upgrades, and even some special tools. (Batteries are specified but not included, as local sourcing for batteries is more practical.) No design, fabrication, or welding is needed and the donor vehicle can be completely converted in approximately one week.|
|The prototype Voltsrabbit is still in service, as are hundreds of other Voltsrabbits that followed. It was the first car in the state of California certified to receive certification for the tax credits in place at that time. The certification sticker was personally affixed by California Assemblyman Sam Farr, who had sponsored the incentive legislation.|
|Electro Automotive next produced a custom bolt-in kit for the popular Porsche 914 conversion. The Voltsporsche was later expanded to include both AC and DC versions. Brown is currently starting design work on the next custom bolt-in kit for the Saturn S-Series for anticipated launch next winter.|
|During the ‘90s, Brown also pioneered how-to conversion classes, ranging from one-day classroom sessions to week-long hands-on workshops, during which students take a chassis from stripped donor to runner. Brown continues these workshops today assisted by his wife and business partner, Shari Prange.|
|In the same time period, Electro Automotive was actively involved in EV rallying and racing, and produced a demonstration race car based on an SCCA D-Sports Racer chassis. The car, called the E-Sports Racer, could achieve speeds up to 100 mph, and was given its own class in SCCA.
Brown was tapped by the Department of Energy as a technical advisor for the Mid-Atlantic Electric Vehicle Challenge, and served on the President’s Federal Fleet Conversion Task Force.
|In 2004, Electro Automotive became the exclusive U.S. distributor for drive systems from Solectria (now Azure Dynamics) of Massachusetts. This brought current production, purpose built AC drive systems to the home conversion market, which had up until then been limited to DC systems.
Electro Automotive and its vehicles have been featured in numerous publications, including Kit Car Magazine, Street Rodder, Hot VWs, Mother Earth News, and many others, as well as on the NPR radio program Marketplace. Brown and Prange currently serve as Transportation Editors and occasional writers for Home Power magazine. In 2002, they were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Electric Auto Association.
Over the years, Electro Automotive has grown from a one-man operation to a contract staff of eight in addition to Brown and Prange, and dozens of specialty subcontract fabricators. Electro Automotive looks forward to many more years of growth and innovation.
For more info: Media Liaison Bill Lentfer, 831-429-1989 or [email protected]
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