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Mark Dutko with Model 286 Think city electric car
Mark Dutko poses with his latest electric car, an early model Th!nki city, which he acquired about the time he sold his Yaris conversion. He explains why in the accompanying MP3 audio available to our Premium subscribers.

How to Get a Brand New Electric Car

Audio interview with Mark Dutko on his year-long project to create the first Toyota Yaris electric car

By EV World

How many people do you know that will buy a brand new car, gut it of its gasoline engine system and replace it with electric drive?

Not many, I'd wager. Most folks who decide they either don't want to wait on car companies to offer electric vehicles (EVs) or simply can't afford what's available at the moment, will find a low-priced "donor" car, usually something like a used subcompact car or truck that is light and cheap. They'll lay out another $10-15,000 on components and in either days, weeks or months -- depending on how much time and help is available -- they are taking their first test drives around the block on clean, efficient electric power.

Not Mark Dutko, who does custom home theater installation in San Francisco. He wanted a new, new EV. That meant -- after lots of research and by process of elimination -- flying down to Los Angeles and buying the then newly introduced (into the USA) Toyota Yaris, pictured below.

His selection criteria was relatively straight forward. It had to be economical, mechanically sound and simple, and something he would be proud to be seen in as his daily travel vehicle. It also had to be compact so that it was easy to park in a city where parking comes at a premium.

Dutko's introduction to EVs began when he purchased what was then known as the Corbin Sparrow, since sold to a Ohio company and renamed the Myers NMG (no more gas). Wanting room for a second passenger -- the NMG only seats the driver -- he began his hunt for his new EV.

The 2007 3-door hatchback Toyota Yaris cost him around $14,000, he told EV World. He drove the car back to San Francisco and parked it in his garage while he acquired all the necessary parts, including the much-sought-after 1K Zilla controller from Cafe Electric.

While the entire project took about a year -- much of it waiting on parts like the Zilla, which had a long waiting list at the time -- removing all of the gasoline engine components happened in an amazingly short time frame. Dutko estimates he had everything related to the IC engine out of the car in a mere two hours time, thanks to how easy the car was to disassemble.

His first piece of advise for others wanting to emulate him is don't bother studying the owner's manual; that could take four days, while removing the IC engine and its associated components right down to the fuel lines and catalytic converter will take only a fraction of the time.

To learn more about Mark Dutko's conversion project -- including how the car handled San Francisco's notoriously steep hills -- as well as how he came to acquire his classic Model 286 Th!nk city electric car from the London Exposition, take the next 25 minutes to listen to our interview in its entirety. You can do so using either of the two MP3 players at the top of this page or by downloading the file to our computer for transfer to and playback on your favorite MP3 device.

Pictured below is a video capture of Dutko with his Yaris conversion before he sold it to an eager buyer.

EVWORLD Future In Motion Podcast

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Times Article Viewed: 21254
Published: 08-Apr-2008

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