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Innovation & Startups

ChargeCar hits the road running, let the conversion to electric begin


Illah Nourbakhsh is standing in the high bay of the Planetary Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon, talking about the electric-powered Rav4 he's been driving for years.

"I'll be in my electric car, driving along at 65 mph, listening to NPR about how electric cars can't reach highway speeds," he laughs. "It's hilarious. The press just hasn't caught on to the fact that they've been reliable now for 10 years!"

Carnegie Mellon's ChargeCar Project wants to revolutionize urban commuting one converted car at a time. This month it unveiled an all-electric, converted Scion xB. Next up, possibly a Honda Civic. With the help of local mechanics, educators, students and drivers, ChargeCar hopes to move the electric conversions from the campus to local garages where the real work of building an electric-powered commuting community will begin. But first, we need to push for legislation that will help to subsidize the cost of converting cars from gas to electric-- about $6,000--as well as sponsorships and funding, says Nourbakhsh.

ChargeCar will convert a second car this spring, which will serve as a prototype for subsequent conversions. A handful of local mechanics have signed up so far. Once local mechanics are up to speed on the conversion process, commercial garages will begin conversions in the Pittsburgh area, says Nourbakhsh.

Everyone is invited to participate--artists and designers, programmers and engineers, scientists and sponsors. Contact ChargeCar.

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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Illah Nourbakhsh, ChargeCar

Image of the Scion xB courtesy of ChargeCar

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