GRANITE CITY — Just by looking at Jim Hudson’s 1999 GMC Sonoma, one would not be able to spot anything out of the ordinary. This pickup looks pretty unspectacular … until you see the big steel box in the bed containing 20 deep-cycle golf batteries that make the truck run.
“I saw (an instructional video) online,” Hudson, owner of Jim’s Pawn and Jewelry, said. “I thought it would be a cool project.”
Now, two years later and with the help of Scott Mance and Jeff Kohnen from Snelson Collision Repair in Granite City, it has become a reality.
As Hudson takes his vehicle out for a spin around the block, you notice the difference immediately — the only noise that comes from the engine compartment is from the power steering pump. It is a smooth and silent ride that will definitely turn heads wherever it goes.
The ride (about 70 miles before needing a charge) is comparable to any four-cylinder truck, or, a better example … a golf cart.
The vehicle is an old delivery truck that Jim picked up for $500, but the conversion cost reached into the thousands.
“With electric cars becoming cheaper, this is more of a hobby,” Hudson said. “The guys said the project was fun, yet if asked to do it again Scott said he’s glad it’s done.”
“If we had worked on this non-stop, it would have only taken a month,” Mance said. “We only worked on it one or two hours a week. Honestly, it was a permanent fixture for awhile.”
Under the hood, there are four additional batteries and the other components needed to power the vehicle. Hudson purchased the kit from www.canev.com, a Canadian electric vehicle conversion kit website that sells kits and parts for a number of vehicles.
One interesting component of this electric vehicle is the emergency kill switch. The switch is there in case there is an accident or some other type of situation in which emergency personnel must breach the vehicle.
“It is so firemen do not get electrocuted,” Jim said.
“Oh no,” Hudson says as he looks down. “The low fuel light’s on.”
While he was joking about the gas gauge, the electric kit does contain what you could call a fuel gauge.
The guys have not nailed down the top speed (it has reached 40 mph so far) and are anxious to take it onto the interstate to see how it performs.
Well … almost anxious.
“We’ll let Scott do that,” Hudson said, laughing.