By Rob Einaudi

Editor-in-Chief

So if you're a Mopar Or No Car kind of guy and are sick of high gas prices, what do you do? You build an electric Duster. Don bought this A-body back in 2006. It had a fresh 360 but otherwise was pretty rough. Over the course of two years he did a resto-mod on the car, which included body work, new paint, and even digital gauges and an RFID keyless ignition system.

But Don didn't stop there. With gas prices on the rise, he was already researching alternative fuels. Then he heard about Tesla and the Volt. In June he picked up a copy of The Zero-Carbon Car, and within an hour was planning his new project. Since he's a meteorologist, he decided to call it the Electrical Storm. Continue reading...

The choice of an old Mopar A-body makes more sense than you might think. It is a very simple, solid car that has power nothing. And it can handle the weight of a lot of batteries (12 in the trunk and 14 under the hood). Don said that, quot;I guess if cheap practically were my only consideration I'd have to go with the usual beat-up silver or white four door foreign piece of crap that is popular with the people that have already done conversions. But, I'm just not that kind of guy. I'd almost rather keep buying gasoline-or walk-than to have to drive something like that to go electric.quot;

So what does a project like this cost? The total cost for everything related to the conversion will come in right around $12K. The batteries were $3,700, which included a $650 core charge since Don didn't have any old batteries to turn in. The motor was $1,670 plus $100 shipping. The other pricey items were the motor controller ($1,345) and the battery pack charger ($1,960). The one-of-a-kind aluminum adapter plate for the tranny cost $1100.nbsp;

Don weighed the Duster before he started and it came in at 3,080 pounds. He is shooting for a finished weight of 4,000 pounds. Based upon other similar conversions of a comparable weight-usually Chevy S-10 pickups-he expects to achieve a top speed of 65-70 mph with a range of 40-50 miles. He will then work on reducing weight and improving aerodynamics to improve upon that.

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The actual power rating is more difficult to determine, as DC motor HP is figured differently than internal combustion engine (ICE) HP. Also, because of differences at different operating voltages, it has been difficult for Don to get/interpret HP and torque curves supplied by the manufacturer.

The best he can determine, the motor itself is approximately 30 HP. As near as he can figure, this probably equates to around 100 HP if compared with a similar ICE. But torque is much higher than a similar ICE at the same HP, although it is hard to get an exact number on that, either. DC motor torque is greatest at low rpm, so acceleration is usually very good with these conversions.

Don has a variable voltage charger so he can use 240 volts at home and also tap into 120 volts if he is out somewhere. At 240 volts, he expects a full charge to take under four hours. He calculates a full charge to cost less than $2. The cost equates to about $.03 per mile.

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Don is documenting all of this in his blog. Also be sure to check out his ride page on CarDomain. And of course we'll keep you posted on his progress in the CarDomain Blog. Don plans to have the EV Duster on the road by the end of October. Watch out Tesla!