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Evolve Electrics - Denver's Local PHEV Upgrader and Kit Seller
FutureCars' Aaron Turpen attended the Denver Auto Show 2010 where he met some old friends in the electric vehicle conversion business: EVolve Electrics. Evolve is best known for its Prius upgrade kits that extend the electric range.
EVolve Electrics offers several things to the Denver, Colorado area EV enthusiast. Their biggest business is in parts and kit supply, selling everything from motors to batteries and controllers. In Colorado, however, they're best known for their Toyota Prius upgrade kits which give the Prius up to 40 miles of extended all-electric range without affecting the warranty on the car.
The company includes co-owners Luc Nadeu and Justin Dunn and is located in Longmont, Colorado. Both are EV enthusiasts, of course, and Aaron first met them last year at the Sustainability Fair in Fort Collins. At that time, they were working on a patent for a unit that was an all-in-one box with the electronics needed for EV conversions - something they are working on a second-generation of now, but with improved technology.
PHEV Upgrade Kits
The upgrade units are all-in-one boxes made by Enginer that come in 2, 4, 6, or 8kWh extension packs, giving the Prius up to 40 extra miles all-electric and raising mileage up to 100mpg.
EVolve sells the units at retail, but includes installation in that price, ensuring professional installs with minimal intrusion into the car. The units fit directly into the trunk of the Prius, over the top of the spare tire, and take up no extra trunk volume, fitting in a "dead zone" of space between the spare and the trunk floor.
The kit requires no rewiring of the car, no changes to its software, and is merely an additional battery bank for the vehicle, enhancing the Prius' built-in battery system. The kits include the controller, charger, lithium-iron phosphate cells, etc. all ready-to-go and in one stainless steel box.
The installs are especially popular in Colorado, which has a huge, 85% tax break on EV purchases and upgrades. Before tax breaks, the kits start at $1,995 (installed) and include a 2-year warranty. Kits weigh between 120 and 250 pounds, depending on battery options.
EV Builder Kits
Another thing that catches the eye at EVolve is their ready-to-rock EV conversion kits. These include all of the components needed to convert a vehicle (kits are sold by vehicle type and voltage) to all-electric mobility. Everything from motorcycles (and ATVs) to cars and pickup trucks or even boats can be converted with a one-purchase kit; rather than getting all of the components separately.
Prices begin under $2,000, not including the batteries, and kits can be customized for voltage, battery type, and include premium components throughout. Everything from the motor and controller to the instrumentation gauges, wiring, fuse holders, and so forth is included. Even transmission adapter plates and couplings for the motor so you can keep the gearing in your car or truck.
Those who have done an EV conversion know that most of the cost, outside of the batteries, is in the little things you don't think about until you're actually designing the build. The chargers, controllers, wiring and fuse junctions add up quickly. All of that is included here. The kits are designed with the expert consultation of Bob Batson of Electric Vehicles of America, one of the oldest and most recognizable names in EV conversions.
What we like
Small Company that is serving a specific need both nationally and locally. This kind of entrepreneurship is where things are really happening in electric vehicles today.
All-in-One Solutions that make it easier for garage mechanics to do it themselves. Enablers like this are a big encouragement to the potential DIY market of eco-enthusiasts.
What we don't
Over-emphasis of tax incentives is common in the alt-fuel and EV markets because of their perceived "savings." This savings often comes at a cost, including government regulation and the taxes having been collected to start with. Incentivizing behaviors like this, while it encourages the behavior (in this case alt-fuels), also has economic effects that are very hard to measure and generally negative.
Cottage industries and small businesses like EVolve are popping up around the country as more and more people become interested in converting, driving, building and owning electric vehicles. It's great to see the entrepreneurial spirit happening on such a level with eco-vehicles. Hopefully it's a trend that continues to grow and prosper!
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