By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
GRANT CITY, MO (KCTV) -
With higher gas prices, everyone is looking for ways to save money at the pump.
But one Northwest Missouri high school senior found a way to get nearly 200 miles per gallon in his transportation.
Don Gibson, 18, does not have the coolest looking car in the parking lot.
"A lot of people consider me to be weird... I just take that as a compliment," he said.
It doesn't really look like there's a lot to his 1994 Geo Metro. But, when he bought it, he pulled out the gas engine and replaced it with an electric forklift engine he bought on eBay.
"They're fairly cheap on eBay, sometimes you can find them for under $200," Gibson said.
Gibson has been driving his electric car for his entire senior year and said it tops out around 62 miles per hour. He admits for long trips, it's probably not the car of choice but, for his daily 16-mile treks to school and back, it's perfect.
"If you were to use better batteries, you could have a range of about 300 miles, but I didn't have the ability to buy those," he said.
It took Gibson close to three years to complete the project. Finding a way to hook up the five-speed transmission was the hardest part.
Now that it's complete, Gibson is surprised Detroit automakers are not making smaller electric cars like his.
"If you live in a small community and you just need to drive around town, this is the most ideal vehicle you could drive," he said.
The Geo Metro has 12 batteries and pulls 144 volts. It has passed Missouri's inspection and is licensed for the street. Gibson said it takes a six-hour charge overnight to get him back and forth to school.
The charging costs about 25 cents, so he's getting an equivalent of around 200 miles per gallon compared to a gas engine.
But cold mornings can cause problems.
"These batteries don't do well in cold temps, but newer lithium battery technology doesn't have a problem with cold temperatures," Gibson said.
Gibson plans on being an engineer after college. He hopes to find new ways to make cars like his run.
"In the future, I would like to do my best to allow cheaper, more efficient, more environmentally-friendly transportation to be available to the public," he said.
Gibson said his project doesn't end here. His next goal is to complete a wind-powered charging station to plug his car into.
Gibson has put around $3,000 total in his electric car but said, if he were to do it again, he could probably knock about $1,000 off that price.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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