MAX Update No. 101: Who Knows What EVL Lurks

Reader Contribution by Jack Mccornack
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I’m on my way home from the Puyallup MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR, where I had a great time. If I missed you in Washington, I hope to see you in Seven Springs (PA) or Lawrence (KS) later in the year. The electric car folks were out in force, and many (the sharper ones, in my opinion) commented that one could make a very green and efficient car using a combination of MAX technology (light, streamlined, scaled to the job) and electric car technology (do your polluting somewhere else and bring the power in by wire). I’d like to build an electric car myself, but as my dad told me in my teens, “You can do anything you want, you just can’t do everything you want,” and I’m doing other things nowadays. Besides, the electric car world is amply represented by my peers and my betters—you can now choose from a variety of pure electric and plug-in hybrids from established manufacturers—so rather than join the electric band, I’ll keep playing acoustic for minimalist DIY transportation.

A lot of people were surprised to hear there are hundreds of MAX-like cars under construction and/or on the road already (MAX is a Locost with a Kubota engine and a streamlined body), with a wide variety of engines and bodies. Anyhow, I had a great answer when folks asked “Why doesn’t anybody make one of these electric?” I’d roll my eyes and look weary and say, “Oh, gosh, you’d have to drive almost fifty miles if you wanted to see an electric Locost.”

Which is why after the Fair, I headed south for 48 miles and visited my friend Pat Sweeney in Tenino. He just recently got his homebuilt electric Locost registered with the Washington DMV, and I wanted to get some photos so people wouldn’t think I was making it up.

So here’s Pat with EVL-7 (personalized license plate pending). There’s nothing evil about it (except in the sense that “wicked” and “bad” can be synonyms for “totally awesome, dude!” or whatever the young folks are saying lately), in this case EVL is an acronym for Electric Vehicle Locost. And it’s not Pat’s seventh electric vehicle—it’s only his fourth—the 7 indicates it has a Lotus Seven-style body, as made famous in The Prisoner (and more recently, by Sharon Westcott and me when we won Escape from Berkeley.

With the hood removed, you can see that what’s normally an engine compartment is stuffed fullof batteries. The batteries are pretty Old School, at least as EVs go; they’re lead/acid hand-me-downs from an upgrade to his EV Fiero (the Fiero’s personalized license is KICKGAS; said Pat, “I had trouble getting that plate from the State because they were curious what that meant”), but the ink isn’t dry on EVL-7’s registration yet and Pat is already talking about a battery upgrade. Who knows, after the new wears off, maybe we can talk about how streamlining can improve range.

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