Can't afford a hybrid? How about a car conversion?

Gone out to kick the tires, or perhaps test drive a Prius, Volt, or LEAF? In some areas of the country you may not have been able to find one; In those where you could, the sticker price may have you rethinking this whole “going green” thing. Even with various state and federal tax incentives, a new hybrid or electric vehicle will likely set you back over $20,000. So maybe this time you buy the conventional subcompact and hope the prices come down next time you’re on the car market?

That’s one approach, but there’s another: car conversion. That’s right. Convert your current vehicle (or an old gas guzzler you pick up  cheap) into a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or even fully electric car. There seems to be a whole cottage industry rising around this option. Protean Electric, for instance, makes an in-wheel motor that the company’s vice president of sales and marketing calls “the closest thing to a ‘bolt-on’ hybrid system.” Other companies will either do the conversion for you, or show you how to do it yourself. And I’m aware of one company that plans to offer converted “clunkers” for sale. (Though primarily as a social enterprise venture. Those lower on the socioeconomic ladder could most benefit from the “fueling” costs of hybrid and fully electric vehicles.) Greenspark EVs note that they can do the conversion for around $10,000 – so, an electric vehicle for the price of that subcompact.

CalCars, a non-profit organization (that made the video above) has been pushing this idea for years, claiming it will get lower-emissions cars on the road much faster than waiting for the auto industry. Strike you as attractive alternative to buying new and paying two to three times as much? Let us know if this is an option you’ve explored.

via Fast Company and @JimHarris


Image credit: Bob n Renee at Flickr under a Creative Commons license