27th August was a great day for the eCars ? Now! project. The first Toyota Corolla converted from ICE drive to electric was running under its own power. (The Youtube video talks in Finnish, but the pictures speak a universal language.) Officially, the eCorolla 1.0 will be unveiled to the media later during the autumn.
What makes the eCars ? Now! project unique is not that it is Open Source (there are several OS electric car projects, such as the c,mm,n), but that the idea is to create a conversion manual and the needed software, not to design a new electric car in need of a manufacturer. In this way, smaller businesses and groups of individuals can make the conversions without large capital outlays or heavy machinery. Based on a survey of the community, it was decided that the first convrsion be made on a Corolla (availability and quality were main concerns). The idea is that once the conversion manual and software are ready, small “garage-companies” can start making the conversions commercially anywhere in the world. Another distinguishing feature of the project is that it has been run more or less on schedule. The first “beta-fleet” of conversions will be made available by the community shortly after the unveiling of the 1.0 model, for the price of ca 20 000 – 22 000 euros. The exact price is dependent on how cheap one can get a used Corolla – best would be one with a broken engine!
(The first conversion was made on a lightly crashed chassis imported from Poland. The Finnish tax system for cars has not yet been harmonized with the EU, making cars more expensive in Finland that the rest of the EU. The community pleaded for a tax exemption on the first chassis on the basis of the public benefits of the project, but the exemption was denied by the authorities. Talk about public support for peer economy! Sometimes even removing active opposition would be nice.)
The community has been working in a garage in Hikiä, southern Finland, and has specialised task forces for the work on the chassis, the batteries, control software, lobbying the authorities, and so on. International communities are also being born, from Australia to Turkey.