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Electric car conversion

Ross Blade of Blade Electric Vehicles with an Electron Mark V.

doesn't faze Australia's first manufacturer of EVs.

...Ross Blade of Blade Electric Vehicles in Victoria says they will take on the big companies with a cheaper and faster-charging home-made product.

Their Electron Mark V, which is based on a Hyundai Getz, costs about $48,000 despite the petrol-powered equivalent Getz selling for $13,990-$16,340.

However, Blade says they will still be cheaper than EVs such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.

"We also have features in our product which are superior," he says.

While the average charge time from standard mains power is about eight hours for most mass-produced EVs, Blade claims their vehicles recharge in two to four hours because they are designed for 15 amps tops and we are designed to take the full 30 amps.

"Our vehicle is designed to optimise the standard charging point infrastructure now being rolled out in Melbourne," he says.

"We've been in the business four years now and we know what technologies are coming and can make big changes quickly.

"The major car companies make their decisions several years in advance and can't make rapid change."

Blade is moving from the Hyundai Getz (Electron Mark V) to the i20 this year (Electron Gen II) and the Holden Cruze late next year.

"Cruze will ultimately be our prime business as we want a locally made chassis to match our locally made components.

"We'll have a Cruze prototype this year, a pre-production model early next year and we're looking to make it available as a commercial product late next year.

"It will be fully ANCAP crash tested and we'll be targeting a minimum of a four-star safety rating."

Since production began in February 2008, Blade has sold 40 petrol-powered Getz models converted to electric power.

But Blade doesn't refer to his business as electric conversion.

"We crash test our vehicles and are licensed, so we're a second-stage manufacturer," he says.

Most of their customers are private, not government or business, but they recently broke into the fleet market.

"We've now taken a big step forward where we are accepted by lease and insurance companies which is a whole new playing field."

DISCARDED ENGINES

Blade has a couple of container loads of discarded Hyundai petrol engines in their backyard.

Company owner Ross Blade says they eventually will be used as "tri-generation gas generators" for heating or cooling.

"But right now we have our hands full manufacturing electric cars," he says.

Blade buys petrol-powered cars directly from Hyundai Motor Company Australia.

"Why do we bring them in with a petrol motor? Because it's expensive to push a car body on and off a ship," he says.

imageBlade removes the exhaust system, fuel tank, engine and gearbox before implanting an AC synchronous electric motor, Azure Dynamics drivetrain, lithium iron phosphate battery and management system.