[top]Troy Lentz, of Lee's Summit, standing by his 1969 Bradley GT II Electra-25
By Dave Eckert, Tribune Lifestyle Editor
Troy Lentz, of Lee's Summit, standing by his 1969 Bradley GT II Electra-25
Tribune Photo/Fred Poese
The Los Angeles Auto Show, often viewed as an indicator of the direction of the world’s auto industry, concludes tomorrow. Pardon the pun, but this year’s show has been “electric.” Alternative fuel cars and trucks, at least in prototypical form, have been around for decades. But this year, in the midst of the continuing recession and with gas prices hovering around $2.50 a gallon, the idea of electric cars is gaining new momentum. The Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, both 100% electric cars with zero emissions, are inching closer to market, and many other manufacturers and models are sure to follow.
All of that’s fine by Lee’s Summit’s Troy Lentz who already owns an electric car (an EV, or electric vehicle, in the vernacular), belongs to a local EV club, and is a partner in a company, EVInstruments, that, among other things, creates software for EV Battery Management Systems
I spoke with Lentz the other day to talk about his love of electric vehicles and the future of EVs in the U.S. and beyond.
“I used to race electric cars when I was a kid, and the technology is basically the same from a smaller car to a larger one, just bigger and more expensive,” Lentz told me. “After my kids were grown and left the house, I started looking for something else to do. I tossed around some ideas with my friends and EV's came up. I wanted to see if I could do this on a larger scale.”
So, Lentz went to Southern Missouri and bought a Bradley GT2, hauled it back to Lee’s Summit, and started assembling his electric vehicle.
“I got in trouble with the city for working on the car in my front yard, so I moved it out to White Tail Pumpkin Farm, and that’s where we built it,” Lentz told me.
“I worked out a deal with Batteries Plus, and had the car painted by Dave's Roe Body Shop, two Lee’s Summit businesses. I bought parts from all over Lee’s Summit, basically everything but the engine, which I purchased in Kansas. I’m a Lee’s Summit kid, so it was important for me that as much of the money I spent on the car stayed in town. There were so many people who helped me make this happen, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who pitched in. The car turned out GREAT!”
"When I was developing the Bradley and thinking through what I should include in it, I came up with the idea for the MiMod EV, which is primarily the battery and electrical control and monitoring system for the car. Because it’s PC-based, it can control many other onboard systems besides the batteries including satellite radio and GPS. But its main function is monitoring and control of the batteries, which are the heart of any EV,” Lentz told me.
That led me to the idea of making MiMod EV into a commercially viable product. We’ve now done that thorough our new company EVInstruments. In fact we had MiMod installed in an exotic new high performance sportscar called the ECOS Harbinger that was displayed in early November at the big auto show in Las Vegas. It really drew a lot of attention and has gotten a lot of press from all over the world ,” Lentz says.
We’re now working with other EV manufacturers to put MiMod EV in their card. We’re also working on a version of MiMod for commercial EV trucks, which are now becoming very popular as delivery and urban transit trucks. In fact, Kansas City has a new company called Smith Electric Vehicles that’s now building these electric trucks out near the airport,” Lentz told me.
It took about a year to get the car up and running. Lentz says he uses it primarily as alternate transportation-trips into town and the like. “I take it to a lot of "green" functions, and attend a lot of parades,” Lentz says.
Along with the lack of emissions, and the fact you don’t have to plunk down $40 or $50 in gas every week, Lentz says there are other advantages to his EV. “It has great torque, and it’s silent, so you can hear and really appreciate the things around you when you drive it.” As for drawbacks, there’s the 40-50 mile limit to the batteries he is using and the fact that there aren’t a lot of places to recharge EVs. “People think you’re using a lot of energy when you recharge an EV, but you’re really not,” Lentz claims. “A dollar or two a day would be about the maximum you’d spend to keep your battery charged.”
As for the big boys getting into the EV business, Lentz says he’s curious as to the response they’re going to get, but hopeful it will help in one big area. “I would think with the bigger manufacturers getting involved, that we’d wind up with more charging stations where we can recharge our vehicles efficiently and inexpensively,” Lentz concluded. Until then, Troy and the other EV aficionados will be plugging in at home, and for Lentz, that means his home, Lee’s Summit. Visit www.evorbust.com
for more information.