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Old 06-27-2011, 12:07 PM
alexcrouse alexcrouse is offline
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Default Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

I am a 23 year old Electrical Engineering student about to graduate from California University of Pennsylvania. I've been a member here for years, and have learned an absolute ton about the development and construction of electric vehicles. I have extensive fabrication and design skills, and a strong automotive background. My first conversion was a 72volt Saturn, and cost under 2000$ including the donor.

I have been planning a conversion shop for a while, later developing our own production vehicle. But after seeing the below thread, I noticed a pretty big gap in my area, Pennsylvania. Maybe I should start sooner and beat the market?

http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums...ops-54096.html

I am still in the "looking for money" stage, and will be actively seeking Venture Capital soon, as I finish my business plan. I basically already have my staff. Many local mechanics are interested. I have a professional welder, professional CADD team, many engineers (I myself an Electrical Engineer) and access to all required equipment.

I want to make the technology accessible to the people, by keeping quality high, and prices low. Profit will happen, but isn't the driving force. (I shouldn't tell the investors that!) I plan to focus on both DC and AC drives, and have developed my own DC drive. I plan to develop an AC drive in the near future.

Any members in the area(south west PA,WV, or OH) who would like to help, or use our services? I would love to see what support the forum has in my town!
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:52 AM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

Hello, Alex. I live in the area and I was just wondering how far along you were on your venture. I have been bouncing around the idea of building a solar car (link in sig), hybridizing my Cavalier, or finding a cheap EV. The closest one that I can find for sale is in Michigan. It would be great to have a conversion shop in the area.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

The plan fell apart, as this thread shows, there is zero interest other than your own. I'd gladly help you with your conversion on weekends! I recently moved to Clarksburg, WV, but am usually home on weekends, at least for the coming months i will be as well.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

Just curious, can you make a decent living with a conversion shop? My wife really thinks I should start a conversion business since I've got that entrepreneurial bent, love cars, and am an electrical engineer by trade. It sounds sorta fun but I just don't know if I can support our family that way.

Right now I have a pretty lucrative career path at a large technology company doing work that is cutting edge and interesting to me... but on the other hand I think it'd be cool to be a part of history.

Back to that other hand, now that GM, Nissan, and soon to be many other large manufacturers are getting into EV production, seems like the convert-your-gasser route looks to be dying. As one member even says, no more waiting go buy one off the shelf! (Esp. since Americans love to finance things... but I digress).
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:42 AM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

I rather be like CroDriver(Mate Rimac) and just build EV's. But i want to build ones that people can actually afford....unlike GM, Nissan, everybody else...

I have lots of plans, and a nearly complete design. I need help with the exterior look, can't make one i like, not an artist.

Found a cheap source of big ac motors to start, that we can replicate/buy when supply runs out.

I just have no capital. I'm trying to buy a house and keep my gassers on the road. Not easy in this economy.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:57 AM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

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Originally Posted by notailpipe View Post
Just curious, can you make a decent living with a conversion shop?
I think like many small businesses, it would be best to start small and work up to full time. Doing conversions part-time on weekends etc. would also build a portfolio that you can market to expand in the future.
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Old 01-04-2012, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

I think the biggest problem is the lack of knowledge of renewable energy and EV's around here. How many people know about the EV chargers that are planned for I-376?

http://m.timesonline.com/mobile/news...a8e7c201e.html

Also, a lot of people I talk to have very little knowledge of the Chevy Volt, Tesla Roadster, or Nissan LEAF, or don't even know they exist. If perhaps there was more marketing done around here, You would have plenty of business. The LEAF will attract most of the DIY'ers, but many people like their current vehicle and not the LEAF, and the same with the Volt. Personally, I like the LEAF better than the Volt, but people look at the specs of the LEAF and don't have a full understanding of how it works. They also don't know much about the level 3 chargers, 80% in 30 minutes from dead. The Volt won't make it from Washington to Pittsburgh without using gas, but the LEAF will, and the LEAF will also cover almost all of the driving that I do. The problem is that I don't have $34,000 and I like my current car, so a conversion of my car would be cheaper, and I can add batteries for more range without the worry of a warranty being voided. With a local diy shop, people have the option of buying production Ev's when they are available here (volt is, LEAF available soon) or having their car converted. Which option is taken depends on that person's preference of the car itself, cost, and convenience. I think convenience is the biggest barrier to ev adoption, but widespread adoption will bring prices down, allowing bigger batteries, farther ranges, and faster charging. Maybe if solar roadways get installed, in-road inductive charging will remove the convenience barrier because of greatly increased range, and almost no hassle of charging since power is always delivered to the car as long as it's on a road, in a parking lot or driveway.

I'm starting to face the same problem as your idea with the business. Right now, my solar car project is ready to build and I have some of the stuff, but I keep getting distracted by EV's and hybrids. Maybe one day It'll finally be built.
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Last edited by Tm PV1; 01-04-2012 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 01-04-2012, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

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Originally Posted by alexcrouse View Post
I rather be like CroDriver(Mate Rimac) and just build EV's. But i want to build ones that people can actually afford....unlike GM, Nissan, everybody else...
Yeah, that'd be my dream too to design and build a production EV from scratch, but I think that's really just dreaming. No offense to you, but I dream of that too and even I think it's unrealistic. Go watch Revenge of the Electric Car and ask yourself, do you really want to be Elon Musk? He had the millions to keep it going too...

If you succeed, power to you.
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Old 01-04-2012, 03:58 PM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

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Originally Posted by Ziggythewiz View Post
I think like many small businesses, it would be best to start small and work up to full time. Doing conversions part-time on weekends etc. would also build a portfolio that you can market to expand in the future.
I agree, but my question is more along the lines of, can it even get to full-time? Or are the customers more like a couple every year? I definitely agree about starting part-time, confirmed that lesson when I tried to start my own small-business earlier this year...
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Old 01-04-2012, 04:02 PM
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Default Re: Startup Conversion Shop, Washington, PA area

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Originally Posted by Tm PV1 View Post
Also, a lot of people I talk to have very little knowledge of the Chevy Volt, Tesla Roadster, or Nissan LEAF, or don't even know they exist.
Prices coming down on OEM EVs will happen at the same time they start pumping more millions towards marketing them, probably latter, then former. By the time everyone is familiar with the Leaf/Volt/others and EV concepts, prices will have came down and they can either buy a now-$25K vehicle new or pay $15K to convert their old car by a guy and/or guys in a semi-professional-looking shop with no 50K/100K powertrain warranty... what do you think they will do?
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