Rick Pitts shows off some of golf cart batteries that will soon power is 1989 Chevy S10 pickup truck. He has spent about $18

Rick Pitts shows off some of golf cart batteries that will soon power is 1989 Chevy S10 pickup truck. He has spent about $18

Trading the gas pump for a plug-in

Metchosin man converted his truck to run without gas

With a dream and golf cart batteries, Rick Pitts is doing his part for the environment.

Pitts, a retired plumber and Metchosin resident, is turning his 1989 Chevy S10 pickup into an electric vehicle. He will soon take his first drive in the truck that has no engine, gas tank or exhaust system.

He removed more than 450 pounds of weight in parts and added about 1,500 pounds with 24 golf cart batteries.

“There is always a trade off,” Pitts said.

The idea of driving an electric vehicle has been on Pitts’ mind for years. He has thought about the brown haze over Los Angeles and is concerned over smog and other air pollutants that people are breathing in.

On a walk through his Metchosin neighbourhood one day a car passed him, Pitts began to breath in the exhaust fumes and at that point he decided he was going to take his dream and make it a reality.

“Everything I was breathing in was his exhaust,” Pitts said. “Wouldn’t it be a good world if everyone drove an electric vehicle?”

Turning his old truck into a modern electric vehicle almost didn’t happen due to finances.

“I am retired, but I found the money,” Pitts said.

He purchased a conversion kit from Canadian Electric Vehicles, in Errington. With the kit and alterations to his truck, he has spent about $18,000 on this process. The actual truck only cost him $500. He didn’t purchase the truck specifically for the conversion project.

“I bought it because I wanted a little truck,” Pitts said.

He has been working with his son to install the kit and prepare the truck to step into the modern age of electric vehicles.

After removing the engine, Pitts made sure to install a heater into the truck.

“Once you remove the engine you have no heater,” Pitts said.

When the truck is road-ready, Pitts estimates he’ll be able to drive between 60 and 90 kilometres before it needs a recharge. His first destination will be downtown Victoria and then back home to Metchosin.

It will take about four hours to recharge the vehicle and Pitts estimates each charge will cost him about one dollar. That is a far cry from the $50 he used to spend to fill the tank.

“I can run this car for two cents a kilometre,” Pitts said.

The savings from his conversation will also come in the way of vehicle maintenance costs.

“There are no tune ups, no spark plugs and no oil changes. There is virtually no maintenance,” Pitts said.

Once the truck is up and running, Pitts plans of covering the entire box of the truck with a large liftable solar panel that will enable him to charge the batteries while driving.

“It will take my 60 to 90 kilometres and take it to an indefinite distance,” Pitts said.

This is not Pitts first environmentally innovative project.

About 15 years ago he designed his own solar hot water heater.  He has a series of pipes and hoses in a special box on his roof that can heat about 60 gallons of water  up to 57 C.

The water then travels down a hose into a preheated water tank.

“I am an energy saving off-the-grid type of person,” Pitts said.