This is part of the America's Future series airing on FOX News through the next several weeks, looking first at the country's energy challenges.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — If you think electric cars are little more than golf carts on the go, think again. For about $25,000 you can convert your Porsche, Lamborghini or gas-guzzling SUV into a fully electric vehicle, and with gas prices continuing to rise, that $25,000 may be cheap.
“It’s not that inexpensive to do, but it can pay for itself over time,” said Paul Liddle, who runs a car conversion shop that specializes in turning Porsches into environmentally friendly, “green” racing machines.
How does he make the switch? The answer’s under the hood.
“We move the gas engine and replace it with this electric seven-inch motor,” Liddle said. “We’re using a 1,000-amp controller and we end up completely rebuilding the system for air conditioning and power steering.”
Liddle works on more than just cars. With gasoline now averaging more than four bucks a gallon, he’s also modifying motorcycles, boats — pretty much anything with a traditional combustion engine.
He’s not the only one who sees promise in the technology.
“Driving green technology is a wonderful thing,” says Cliff Rassweiler, an electric racecar driver. “Any type of racing is a big thrill, and that you're racing a car that you know is better for the environment makes it even better."
Rassweiler, whose personal car is a gas-electric hybrid Prius, says he now spends about one-fifth of what he used to on gasoline for his racecars by buying electricity instead.
“I don’t need to go to a gas station to recharge the electric car,” Rassweiler said. “I come home at night, plug it in and the price of gas does not affect me.”
Liddle says his phone is ringing off the hook from people placing new orders.
“It's in big demand right now because people are starting to realize that they can have performance and they can have a stylish car instead of just having the same type of vehicle everybody else drives,” Liddle said.
According to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, a group that promotes electric driving technology, there are now more than one million electric and hybrid cars on the road. Interest in electric cars is surging, they say, a trend Liddle found easy to explain.
“Being green, being fast, having no oil drips, having no maintenance to do and having no noise and there’s just so many less moving parts. It’s a lot simpler ride,” he said.
And the best part: You get to leave gas pumps in your dust.
Phil Keating joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in March 2004 and currently serves as FNC's Miami-based correspondent.