Living in Electric Dreams: How it feels having built a 100% Electric Farm Ute
To start off, there’s a fun little button between the seats that you flick to green or red. Green means forward, red is reverse.
I feel so Marty McFly / Back to the Future every time I do it! Never mind the giant red “Isolator” button, which looks like if you hit it, you’ll be ejected right out of your seat!
Now that’d make those boys at the Manji Speedway across the road sit up and take notice. Maybe. Anyway, hooray! Stellar Violets’custom built 100% Electric Ute is going like a smooth, silent electric dream come true.
I wouldn’t say I was “into cars”, exactly. We were contemplating what project we could do for Stellar Violets Living Museum back in 2012. At some point in our researching, it seemed that the efficiency and environmental benefits of electric motors made for a worthy route to explore further.
We wanted a ute, but there weren’t any commercially produced EV utes in the world, yet. If we wanted one, we’d have to find a way to build it.
We soon unearthed an electronics genius. Rod Dilkes, of EV Power, Margaret River, who along with his offsider, a talented maker/fabricator named Jamie Pardoe, agreed to our project. These guys are seriously skilled. When I speak of their genius and talent, I don’t do so lightly. After many works work, we got the green light in February to take it to Perth or the engineer’s stamp of approval. Green: that’s the go forward button, remember?
Taking a newly converted, unregistered electric vehicle a long distance takes some planning, and some guts. Never mind the energetic heckling from my Uncle Ray, who was very much amused by it all.
“What happen’s when you run out, you gonna call me? Better get a generator for the back,” he quipped, laughing heartily.
We had an idea how far it could go. Rod reckoned 170kms, and if we travelled slowly, maybe a little further.
We had to take the ute to Perth be get it assessed by an engineer. As it happened, at the time, a bosom buddy Catherine Marriott had recently moved to Binningup, about 30kms north of Bunbury on the coast. How convenient! By modest calculations, we could drive from our place in Manjimup to her – just – before needing to charge!
“Donnybrook”55% battery left, 98kms down,”I reported, typing furiously. I was like a spy, or pilot, or something. Cruising down the highway in a 100%, smooth, silent, electrified utility is amazing. You actually feel like you’re gliding.
“37% and 133kms down, turnoff from Dardanup Bunbury bypass, looking good.”And then we were turning off to Binningup, 28% charge left, first leg to Perth down, success was ours, we knew it but we couldn’t say it until we were plugged in at Catherine’s, safely, deliciously chargin’up for more…
“Captain’s log: 156.5kms down, 27%. Mission complete. Deploy the electric cord!”