here is a way to travel from place to place in an automobile without paying for gasoline and 84-year-old Rosario Accardi has been doing it for the past two years.
Just hours after purchasing a fuel-efficient Smart car in 2008, he sent the car to Moorseville, N.C., to get it retrofitted and now it runs on pure electricity.
So for the past two years, when motorists around him were stopping at gas stations and spending well over $40 to fill up their tanks, Accardi drove past them all with a smile on his face because he was able to keep that extra money in his pocket.
While taking a test run with Accardi, he said driving past the gas stations has been one of the best things about owning his electric automobile.
It looks like a car, it feels like a car, and it rides like a car but Accardi is getting an extra benefit because his is electric.
"It is just like a regular car. It’s got a pick-up like a regular car, plenty of room in the inside like a regular car, and it has air conditioning, heat and radio," he said.
The Smart car cost Accardi just over $17,000 and he had to spend another $17,000 to convert it.
He said it was expensive but he did it because he has always been fascinated with electric cars.
"Pollution-wise it’s good for the environment, and you don’t have to depend on gasoline," he said. "I still have a pickup truck and another car because sometimes I need a regular car when I want to go down to the shore or something. I can’t go with this. This is strictly for around town."
His car can only go 100 miles on a full charge.
"I can only go 50 miles (one way) because I’ve got to get back. But I never let it get pass halfway," he said.
The car was retrofitted by a company that was called EV Innovations. Since this time the company has changed its name to Li-ion Motors.
Li-ion Motors Plant Manager Tom Zogoda said the mileage on their retrofits has improved. Now thesecars can go up to 200 miles on a single charge.
When Accardi got his car the company was offering a two-year warranty and now this is up to three because the cars are even better, said Zogoda.
"We know the cars last longer and we are more experienced with them," said Zogoda.
Since 2006 the company has retrofitted 30 cars and it has plans to begin producing its own passenger and sport cars, said Zogoda.
Li-ion can convert just about any type of car. Zogoda said they do stay away from older rusted cars because, "they don’t have good electric systems in them and we don’t know if the infrastructure is still holding up. There are a few cars we can’t because there just isn’t room to do it."
Li-ion has converted PT Cruisers, Mini Coopers, Toyota Yarises, Pontiac Vibes, trucks, and motorcycles. The company’s customer base extends to other countries including Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates.
Accardi said he doesn’t drive his car too far and it takes six hours to fully charge the engine.