EV Innovation-converted Toyota Yaris is an all-electric car with 100+ miles range
Ray Blackburn's 'LiV Wise' Toyota Yaris electric conversion cost more than $40,000 and took longer than expected, but the result demonstrates the cost of a good EV is coming down.

Truth in Advertising: Ray Blackburn's Electric Yaris

Portland resident Ray Blackburn talks about his EV Innovation Toyota Yaris conversion

By EV World

The quiet little secret about electric cars is that they are few, far between and comparatively expensive. Not many people are in position to buy a $100,000+ Tesla, $80,000+ Karma or $70,000+ eBox. Between these limited production electric-drive cars is a huge gap that terminates in limited performance Neighborhood Electric Vehicles or NEVs in the sub-$20,000 and below price range. Between these two extremes is a veritable Pacific Ocean with few practical choices at the moment... with one exception.

Siting like Easter Island in middle of this vast product void is a little company called Hybrid Technologies, now known as EV Innovations, that offers a standardized catalog of models that include the Smart car, the Mini, the Yaris and the PT Cruiser. Dogged by a checkered past, the bread crumbs of which lead back to Chaz Haba, it has made its share of splashy announcements and reaped equal portions of disappointments. But based on one Portland businessman's recent experience, the company appears to be getting its act together.

Ray Blackburn turned to the company last year after realizing that he didn't have the time, skills or inclination to build his own electric car conversion, despite the fact that his community is home to some of the most knowledgeable EV conversion experts on Planet Earth.

In this MP3 podcast, he tells EV World publisher Bill Moore that when he compared his options: convert a car for $20,000 and get maybe 20 miles driving range on lead batteries or go with the EV Innovations Yaris and its Kokam lithium polymer batteries with 100 miles driving range for in the neighborhood of $40,000, the latter option made much more sense to him.

Ray Blackburn isn't the first person to own a converted Toyota Yaris. Mark Dutko did do his own conversion. See How To Get A Brand New Electric Car.

"I don't have to lift a finger, and I don't have to pull my hair out because I don't know how to build them..." he said.

To make sure this was the right decision, he flew down to the company's North Carolina conversion shop and test drove their Yaris demonstrator, but not before doing extensive research on the Internet.

"There's a lot of fluff out there," he remarked; a lot of companies claiming to do conversions. He ordered the car the summer of 2008 and then the economy cratered, leading to some admitted anxiety about whether or not he'd get it.

"They came through and the car is everything they advertised it to be."

For what exactly that entails you need to listen to the entire 23-minute interview using either of the two MP3 players above or by downloading the 5.3MB file to your computer for transfer to and playback on your favorite MP3 device.

Blackburn made himself a promise that no matter how the purchase turned out, he'd tell it like is it... and he does.

EVWORLD Future In Motion Podcast

Download MP3 File

Times Article Viewed: 10658
Published: 23-Feb-2009


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