Isabella's Electric Ice Cream Truck

Tucson couple convert 1927 Model T into nostalgia-powered vendor

By EV World Video Productions

When Dominic and Kristel Johnson moved into their gated community in Tucson, Arizona a couple years ago, they discovered it was full of children, which was good, because they have two young girls themselves.

All those children running about also sparked an idea in Dominic's mind: a mobile ice cream vendor might be a good business, but not the typical big, gas-powered commercial vans driving slowly through thousands of American neighborhoods each summer, their speakers blaring an incessant jingle.

No, Dominic's vehicle had to be different. It had to be open and inviting. Being nostalgic wouldn't hurt either. More importantly, it had to be 'green.' There was little point in serving quality Haagen-Daiz ice cream from a garishly-painted, carbon-spewing monstrosity. So, the idea was born of using a Ford Model T, but one that ran on electricity instead of gasoline. In its present configuration, the truck, which was converted by a local Arizona firm, has a range of around 30 miles and top speed of 30 mph on lead acid batteries. More advanced lithium would be nice, Dominic concedes, but for now he has to work with what's afforable. So far, the Johnson's have invested about $20,000 in their start-up business.

The video above is part of the Skype video conference we did today with the Johnson's from their home in Tucson; the truck is in the background. Unfortunately, after about three minutes, we began to experience technical problems, including a dropped connection and then image quality issues. Of course, it didn't help that after the connection drop, Bill forgot to start recording again. Still, we think the first 3-minutes are worth offering to our readers, and we also recommend you visit their web site.

Isabella's Ice Cream, named after their oldest daughter, has been in operation only a few months, and the Johnson's are still waiting on some permits to allow them to vend ice cream on the street, but they are very encouraged with public response so. They have been selling product from the truck at various local events and have met with a very warm reception, with parents taking photos of their children with the 1927 Model T, which Dominic assembled from parts of several vehicles. The wooden cab on the truck, which he also built, comes from recycled lumber from the University of Arizona's basketball court. Dominic's next project is to install flexible, thin-film solar produced by a local manufacturer on the roof of the truck to produce electricity to run the ice cream freezer.

An Olympic pole vaulter for his island birthplace, St. Lucia, Dominic is now focusing his efforts on building the business, with Kristel, who has a dual degree in marketing and Intercultural management, serving as the five-month old enterprises events and marketing manager.

EV World expresses its appreciation for the effort they went through to help us conduct this dialogue and we plan to check in with them from time to time to see how Isabella's Ice Cream progresses. We're betting there are more electric Model T's on its widening horizon.


Below are additional photos of the truck under construction and at work.

Canablized parts of various Model Ts slowly take shape again as a recognizable vehicle.

Finished vehicle, now battery powered and ready to start service ice cream.

Kristel Johnson with their two daughters.

Electric Modelt T truck and premium ice cream are a big hit at this Tuscon, Arizona event.

Times Article Viewed: 11417
Published: 03-Nov-2010


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