Lead - On Hatteberg's People, there are some inventive folks out there on the Kansas prairie, who see solutions where others see problems. Now take the high cost of a gallon of gas. Dwain Swick hasn't purchased gas for his truck for a long time. That's because this inventive McPherson resident sees the future in 'battery' powered cars.
"This is a 1989 Chevy S-10. Now all the S-10's were a nice lightweight vehicle."
" I've got 2,000 miles on this vehicle and I haven't been to a filling station yet."
And That's because it runs on electricity. Take a listen...as he backs out the only sound is the whir of the transmission.
"I can drive about 40 miles before I need to charge the battery."
"I designed it basically for running around town. I didn't intend for this to go out on the highway, as a highway vehicle."
"Now here, you've only got 3/8's of an inch at best."
Dwain along with Jeff Peterson of Advanced Automotive Components and Mike Erskine thought there had to be a way that everyone could save money on fuel. So they've been designing away, in this warehouse with no signs...what they think could be an answer for a lot of people...economic electric car transportation.
"Well, we may not build millions, but we're going to build a few."
This s-10 pickup is their prototype.
"This is the controller, and this is some of the contacts that control it and this is a safety fuse. This is a safety fuse in the unit. Now this is my design. This is the motor that drives the unit that is mounted to the transmission."
"Now this is only a test, but it works.
It has a 96 volt operating system using 16 six volt batteries.
"I pulled into the Dillion's store parking lot the other day and a guy ran over to me and said that's an electric truck isn't it? I was looking underneath and saw your battery boxes. Before I got out of there I had half a dozen people wanting to look at the vehicle. There is a lot of interest in this right now."
In the old days, it was only automotive giants that you would consider being able to make this happen, but Dwain says those days may be over. Future innovation may be on the shoulders of local entrepreneurs like Dwain and his partners.
"I think there are a lot of things that can be done. And I believe that small business is going to have to do it. We're going to have to take some of these things into our own hands and that's what we are going to try to do."
The cost to convert a lightweight truck or car is about 11,000 dollars--and they hope to bring out a battery powered vehicle that will run as far as a car would on a full tank of gas.
I'm enjoying this part better than I did all the rest of my working life ahead of this.
Dwain says he is in contact with one of the big three automakers about just purchasing the chassis and transmission of some small new cars and then have his company make the conversion to electricity.
For more information, call 620-241-2500 in McPherson.