French Engineer Converts Old Cars into DIY Poor Man’s Teslas

French engineer Marc Areny didn’t let his financial status get in the way of owning a Tesla – he simply built a DIY version for himself.

A resident of Romania since 2011, Marc was driven by the idea of making “an electric car that anyone could afford, not just elites.” So he started off with Romania’s national car, the low-cost 2005 Dacia Logan by Renault, and got rid of all the parts that worked on petrol. Instead, he replaced them with batteries and an electric motor. The result was a reliable and fast vehicle that does the job pretty well, albeit without all of Tesla’s bells and whistles – touchscreens and other gizmos.


Photo: Marc Areny

This isn’t the first time Marc has tried converting a regular car into an electric-powered vehicle. He stopped using gas in 2008, when he modified his Renault Clio 1.9 Diesel to run on leftover cooking oil from restaurants. Back in 2010, when he still lived in France, he had converted a Porsche 944 to electric drive, but unfortunately he was unable to get approval from the government to actually drive it on the streets. “They told me I had to do a frontal and a lateral crash test in order to certify the car,” he said, speaking to Motherboard.


Photo: Bitpress

But Marc had no such problems with the Romanian Automotive Register, who almost immediately certified his modified Dacia Logan. And building it wasn’t too expensive either – in Romania, it’s fairly easy to buy a second-hand Dacia for around $1,000 to $3,000. The 20kWh lithium-ion batteries cost him an additional $7,000, which according to Marc, are good enough to drive 100 miles on a single charge. He spent another $4,000 to $5,000 on the electric motor, power regulator, and other additional parts.

Marc explained that repairs and maintenance cost next to nothing on the modified Dacia, because it doesn’t require any oil changes or filter replacement. Even the brake pads last longer because deceleration is partially obtained using the electric motor as a generator.


Photo: Green Report

As is evident, Marc doesn’t agree with Tesla Motors’ strategy of creating high end electric cars that not many people can afford. “I’m a regular guy trying to find solutions for regular people,” he told Motherboard. His future goal is to scale up his production techniques to mass produce electric powered vehicles. “I could lower the price this way. I don’t want to get rich out of this. I just want to do it.”

Sources: Motherboard, The Long Tail Pipe

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