How drivers can convert their engines to become petrol-free

Rising petrol prices are driving record demand for electric vehicles in Australia, but many disappointed motorists are discovering a serious lack of supply.

Now innovative companies are offering conversions, turning old gas guzzlers into an all-electric motor.

“There’s no car that can’t be converted,” says Graeme Manietta of DIY Electric Vehicles, although costs can vary depending on your car.

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Rising petrol prices are driving record demand for electric vehicles in Australia, but many disappointed motorists are discovering a serious lack of supply.
Rising petrol prices are driving record demand for electric vehicles in Australia, but many disappointed motorists are discovering a serious lack of supply. (A current affair)

Manietta built his first electric car in his Logan workshop back in 2007 and interest quickly spread.

“People kept saying, ‘Oh, can you give me the pieces so I can do one,’ and it snowed to the point where it’s a business now,” Manietta said.

That business is booming now, with thousands of drivers looking to convert their engines to petrol-free, also removing the exhaust system and radiator, but adding batteries to power the car.

"There is no car that cannot be converted," according to Graeme Manietta of DIY Electric Vehicles, though the cost may vary depending on your car.
“There’s no car that can’t be converted,” said Graeme Manietta of DIY Electric Vehicles, although costs can vary depending on your car.v (A Current Affair)

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“In 10 years I think it will be that cheap to put in a 1000km battery range because the technology is improving exponentially,” he said.

The cost of a conversion starts at $16,000, which gives you a range of 100 kilometers.

Longer range means more batteries, increasing costs, and newer cars can also be more expensive to switch.

Diesel prices are skyrocketing in the outback and solar energy is plentiful, meaning the owner runs it for free.
Diesel prices are skyrocketing in the outback and solar energy is plentiful, meaning the owner runs it for free. (A current affair)

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The batteries should last at least 10 years and possibly up to 18 years depending on how much you drive.

“I am fully convinced that in ten years’ time people will look at a person driving a diesel car with a little bit of disdain the way we look at a smoker today,” he said.

“Regardless of what the naysayers and the coal-huggers are all doing, we need clean air, we need a clean environment.”

Brendan Poole is one who is glad he made the switch after rescuing a Nissan Tiida from the scrap yard.

“It would run, then stop and I was like, ‘Great, that won’t be a problem for me, I’ll take the motor out and put an electric in it,'” Poole said.

Now he cruises the streets of Brisbane without giving a damn about where gas prices have risen.

“It was a petrol car that was blowing smoke and now it’s not, so it still has a second life,” Poole said.

Manietta said it’s known as the “EV grin” when electric vehicle owners drive past a gas station and smile at the money they’re saving.

He also built what could be Australia’s first electric Landcruiser with a 300 horsepower engine that can pull a 3.5-ton float for over 200 kilometers on a single charge.

It was needed in the outback, where diesel prices are skyrocketing and solar energy is abundant, meaning the owner runs it for free.

“Because we have solar, we don’t have fuel costs, we don’t have electricity costs, so we’re so far ahead of the curve,” Manietta said.

Manietta built his first electric car in his Logan workshop back in 2007 and interest quickly spread.
Manietta built his first electric car in his Logan workshop back in 2007 and interest quickly spread. (A current affair)

“And we’re not rocket scientists, this is just common sense.”

But the trained mechanic downplays how smart he is, with his team creating their own vehicle control unit so they can work with existing electric cars that have run out of battery life.

He now also recycles the vehicle batteries into powerwalls that you can attach to your solar installation at home, where the required ampere is lower.

“The future for our company is to take out old expired batteries, recycle them in the powerwalls and put new ones in and double the range,” he said.

Australian motorists have suffered from the “climate wars” that have plagued federal politics for more than a decade, slowing the arrival of electric cars, which make up just 3 percent of new car sales.

Conversions are now slowly filling the void with companies similar to Oz DIY Electric Vehicles popping up all over Australia.

He will be one of hundreds of companies showcasing their wares at the Electric Dreams exhibition at Brisbane Showgrounds from July 2 to 3, with more dates across the country.

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