Me­chanic lives out his elec­tric dreams

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

THE move to elec­tric cars is com­ing and a Townsville busi­ness is at the fore­front of the lat­est de­vel­op­ments al­low­ing low- cost con­ver­sions of com­bus­tion en­gine ve­hi­cles.

EV North has be­gun op­er­at­ing at West End and is one of only a hand­ful of com­pa­nies pro­vid­ing con­ver­sion ser­vices in Aus­tralia as well as the only one in the coun­try op­er­at­ing from a stand- alone fully so­lar- pow­ered work­shop.

It is the busi­ness of me­chanic Michael Lunn who de­scribed it as his “dream job”.

“As far as I’m con­cerned I don’t work a day in my life,” he said.

Mr Lunn is a me­chanic who de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in elec­tric ve­hi­cles when he was team leader in a World So­lar Chal­lenge race en­try by the Bur­dekin Catholic High School at Ayr in 2001.

The low- bud­get en­try did not shat­ter any records but did fin­ish the 3000km race.

“Once I did this race, I thought, there’s a fu­ture in this. It def­i­nitely works,” Mr Lunn said.

The United States’ Tesla and China’s BYD are lead­ing the emerg­ing pas­sen­ger and trans­port elec­tric ve­hi­cle mar­kets but small com­pa­nies like Ev North could also be sig­nif­i­cant play­ers.

Mr Lunn said ad­vances in techno- logy and the avail­abil­ity of com­po­nents meant smaller play­ers were likely to emerge as peo­ple be­came more aware of what was avail­able.

EV North does cus­tom con­ver­sions. So far it has con­verted a PT Chrysler, a Mini Moke hire car, while the owner of an Audi TT coupe has ex­pressed in­ter­est.

Mr Lunn said the base con­ver­sion cost $ 14,500 where the car’s in­sides were stripped out and re­placed with parts in­clud­ing a 96- volt Nis­san Leaf cell DC bat­tery pack, an Aus­tralian­made Ba­trium bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tem and a Chi­nese- made Hepu three- phase AC di­rect drive mo­tor.

The con­verted ve­hi­cles pro­vide an easy- to- drive, cheap- to- run and main­tain, no- emis­sion car.

They have a range of 100km which can be ex­tended with larger bat­tery packs.

“I reckon once peo­ple drive an elec­tric ve­hi­cle they will never go back,” Mr Lunn said.

He has em­ployed his son Heath who is un­der­tak­ing school- based light ve­hi­cle me­chan­i­cal ap­pren­tice­ship with the busi­ness.

“I reckon there’s a fu­ture in it. Tesla has taken off,” Heath said.

Who knows, in years to come EV North could grow into multi- mil­lion­dol­lar busi­ness us­ing fac­tory- made chas­sis and al­low­ing peo­ple to choose not just the colour but the shape of the car they want.

Pic­ture: SHAE BE­PLATE

FU­TURE DRIVEN: EV North busi­ness owner Michael Lunn with his son Heath spe­cialise in cus­tom elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

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