Innovation That Matters

Converting standard Corollas into electric cars

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Sähköautot–Nyt! (Finnish for Electric Cars–Now!) is taking an innovative approach to getting more electric-powered vehicles on the road. The Finnish not-for-profit group, which calls itself an open-source electric vehicle community, wants to sign up 500 or more buyers for its first proposed model. Instead of building a car from scratch, they’ll retro-fit existing Toyota Corollas. At a volume of 500+, the cost of acquiring and converting used, petrol-powered vehicles to run on rechargeable lithium batteries will be on par with the cost of purchasing a standard internal combustion engine Corolla off the lot, and saves the energy needed to manufacture a new hybrid or electric car. More facilitator than manufacturer, Sähköautot–Nyt! is inviting suppliers to offer components for a prototype conversion kit. Once the conversion kit has been developed, it will use its website to assist customers in ordering a Corolla and a kit, and in choosing a local auto shop that can handle the conversion. While the group says that for the time being its kits will only be available in Finland, its founders are willing to share their knowledge with similar organizations in other nations, as befits the open-source movement. To be sure, competition will come from the plug-in hybrid vehicles that major auto makers hope to launch over the next several years. Those models will come with warranties and a network of repair facilities, which no start-up organization could hope to duplicate. Still, plenty of early adopters would likely sign up for a vehicle that helps them fight back against the rising cost of fuel. Sähköautot–Nyt! shows how the open-source model could become a powerful tool for (social) entrepreneurs who want to tackle pressing issues sooner rather than later. (Related: Battery-powered trucksThe going is green, and electric.) Spotted by: Antti Kaiponen



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