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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A few of us in this forum live in Alberta, Canada. Those who are familiar with the Canadian EV market realize that sales of commercially-produced EVs are almost exclusively limited to provinces which subsidize them, which has never included Alberta. Some Nissan dealers have sold Leafs, and there are a few Teslas on the road, but EVs are still rare.

In this environment, it is interesting to see that an EV (used car) dealership has opened in Calgary. With essentially no cars in the local market to resell, they are importing stock. They also say in news coverage that they will offer conversions, but that looks more like an aspiration than an existing service.
GoElectric

News coverage:
Laid-off Calgary oilpatch engineer opens used electric car dealership

The TV news item shows a 1960's VW Type 3 Squareback conversion with a Volt battery, but it looks pretty bad - it has a very bulky battery installation occupying the entire rear cargo space with no proper housing. It's not clear if they actually did this conversion, or supported it, or just had it around for the TV interview.

I checked their current EV Inventory - it's very limited, and it includes plug-in hybrids (BMW i3 REX and Chevrolet Volt) so it's not purely battery-electric.

I don't have any recommendation about this business one way or the other, but it's interesting news for this area.
 

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They also say in news coverage that they will offer conversions
The way I interpreted it is that they're trying to be like a Makerspace or a Rent-a-Shop. They provide space and maybe tools, and you'd rent their garage to do your conversion.

with no proper housing
What are you talking about? It's clearly covered with one of grandma's blankets.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The way I interpreted it is that they're trying to be like a Makerspace or a Rent-a-Shop. They provide space and maybe tools, and you'd rent their garage to do your conversion.
It does sound like that. It would be an interesting model - how would they value their expertise, and how much market is there in Calgary (where most people live in suburban houses with garages) for a place to putter on their conversion?

What are you talking about? It's clearly covered with one of grandma's blankets.
:D LOL
 

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It does sound like that. It would be an interesting model - how would they value their expertise,
Oh I don't think they're helping. The model would be literally renting the garage and tools, while, presumably up front the used dealership sells. Maybe the business itself will wrench on some used vehicles?

and how much market is there in Calgary (where most people live in suburban houses with garages) for a place to putter on their conversion?
Tons. Tons and tons.

Every city bigger than about 100k in Canada (and the US) has at least one Makerspace that does exactly that.

Going coast-to-coast off of memory...

Victoria has "Victoria Makerspace"
Vancouver has "Vancouver Hacker Space" (VHS) and like 8 others.
Kamloops has "Kamloops Makerspace"
Calgary has "Protospace" and "Fuse33" and a few other smaller ones.
Edmonton has "Edmonton New Technology Society" (ENTS)
Saskatoon has "Saskatoon Techworks"
Regina had CrashBangLabs, but I think it went under.
Winnipeg has "Skullspace" (more of a hackerspace) and "Assentworks" (more of a professional entrepreneurial fab space)
Thunder Bay has "Ohm Base"
Kitchener has "Kwartzlab"
London has "UnLondon" (UnLab?)
Toronto has "Hacklab.TO" and "Site3" and many others.
Montreal has "Foulab" and others.
Quebec City has "HCB"
Halifax has "Halifax Makerspace"

... I'm probably forgetting a couple dozen.

https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/Canada

Most of these places have ~250 members per million people.

Cars are one of the things those spaces generally don't allow or allow on an case-by-case basis, because cars are physically large, can't be put away or taken home, and are large projects in that they take a long time.

When you get into the Rustbelt of the US, the land and warehouse space is so cheap that 40-person non-profits can afford a 40,000 square feet to themselves, all the 3-phase equipment that they can truck out of wherever just wants it gone, and do whatever they want.

Generally, those that want to or only can afford to live in an apartment enjoy having build space. But even those in suburbia often find that, young kids go to bed shortly after they commute home from work and eat supper, and neighbors don't want to listen to a grinder at 10pm when you're in the middle of a project.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The article says
GoElectric also converts clients’ conventional vehicles to electric and hopes to soon be helping others complete do-it-yourself conversion projects.
... so the DIY thing is supposed to be coming, but they claim to be already doing conversions.

I get the idea of "maker" spaces, but a car needs an automotive garage. A bunch of 3D printers and other shared tech (whatever is popular these days in these places) doesn't help, and a place that doesn't allow cars is useless. Specifically for cars, there are do-it-yourself garages - I used one long ago when I lived in an apartment - but I don't think many people would take on a conversion project without their own space.

Of course some specific tasks can be done without an automotive garage. For instance, if someone wants to build their own motor controller, that's an electronic project not needing an auto shop until installation time.

If they're not providing expertise to the DIY people in their "workshop", it's hard for me to see how they would be better than any rental automotive space, which makes the space relatively pointless. Although I suppose they could have some shared EV-specific equipment... a charging station, and perhaps some instrumentation?

Here's an interesting scenario:
A DIY customer puts together some bits in the workshop, including some salvaged EV battery modules. The modules are somewhat damaged, and not enclosed in any kind of housing (just stacked in the trunk or whatever). There's no monitoring system of any kind. The builder plugs a charging source into the pack and leaves, expecting a full charge to take several hours. Several of the cells are faulty, and so the others get massively overcharged. Is the company offering the workshop space going to provide advice? Are they responsible for the ensuing fire?
 

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I get the idea of "maker" spaces, but a car needs an automotive garage. A bunch of 3D printers and other shared tech (whatever is popular these days in these places) doesn't help,
Most "hackerspaces" are computer/electronic/3d printer focused. They tend to be, because all you need is a room.

Most "makerspaces" will have woodshops and metal shops, with plasma cutters, welders, grinders, etc.

At least, that's how the self-identity tends to go.

An automotive shop isn't different than a metal shop. A lift isn't necessary, and most wouldn't have one at home. All that's needed is space and time.

But you're right, most Makerspaces will be quite restrictive on space and time for large projects. I'd say just about every Makerspace has had at least one conversion attempt at it, which, probably shaped future policy as to under what conditions it should ever be allowed again.

I don't think rent-a-garages are commonplace enough. Maybe just because I haven't done much automotive work, but, the ones I do know of charged as much per hour as a makerspace membership for a whole month.

Anyway, my point wasn't that makerspaces are a suitable place to do an EV conversion, my point was that there is certainly significant demand for people in just about any city to want somewhere to do conversions and not have the space at home for one reason or another.

I can see it as a viable business model.

Here's an interesting scenario:
A DIY customer puts together some bits in the workshop, including some salvaged EV battery modules. The modules are somewhat damaged, and not enclosed in any kind of housing (just stacked in the trunk or whatever). There's no monitoring system of any kind. The builder plugs a charging source into the pack and leaves, expecting a full charge to take several hours. Several of the cells are faulty, and so the others get massively overcharged. Is the company offering the workshop space going to provide advice? Are they responsible for the ensuing fire?
Judging by existing Makerspace insurance profiles and waivers...

The space would probably be liable but would try to push it onto the renter.

The renter would have signed a ton of waivers and gone through a mandatory safety introduction so that they couldn't sue the space.

Third parties affected would attempt to sue both and see what sticks.

The fire potential of a vehicle is related to the energy it stores, and a full gas tank and a car routed with fluids is a hell of a lot more energy than an EV battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't think rent-a-garages are commonplace enough. Maybe just because I haven't done much automotive work, but, the ones I do know of charged as much per hour as a makerspace membership for a whole month..
Lots of commercial space means lots of money. U-Wrench in Calgary is $115/day. Maybe GoElectric thinks that renting out surplus space at less than typical DIY rates is marketable and better than leaving the space empty.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The fire potential of a vehicle is related to the energy it stores, and a full gas tank and a car routed with fluids is a hell of a lot more energy than an EV battery.
It's not just the energy. A wood-framed house is huge pile of firewood, but few people would consider the structure hazardous by itself.

Gasoline certainly presents a substantial risk, but almost no one would put a running burner under an open bucket of gasoline and leave it unattended for a few hours to warm up, because they have enough common sense to recognize the risk. Batteries are not so well understood by most people.
 

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The makerspace market is pretty limited. Before Techshop went under we were members. We used it to bootstrap a small batch manufacturing company. There is a smaller makerspace in town that is not for profit. Depending on how busy the makerspace is you can't always get the machine/space you want. The for profit makerspaces have a tough time making a go of it. There is also a garage rental/DIY auto shop in town. It's US$35/hr to rent a bay and tools, $50/hr for them to help you diagnose and fix and $85/hr for them to just fix your car.

The market for DIY EV conversion shops just doesn't and likely will never exist. First, most people don't work on their own cars these days. People have been restoring classic cars for decades now yet there is still no market for DIY restoration shops. EV conversions are a minuscule fraction of what the restoration business is. By the time you source the parts and pay for the EV makerspace membership you're past what you could buy most entry level plug in EVs off the showroom. EV specific makerspaces just aren't a viable business option.
 
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