Converting from petrol to electric in a Selbourne garage

ON THE OPEN ROAD: Christopher Walkden with the 1992 Subaru Brumby he converted to an electric vehicle. Picture: Phillip Biggs
ON THE OPEN ROAD: Christopher Walkden with the 1992 Subaru Brumby he converted to an electric vehicle. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Motor enthusiast Christopher Walkden has dreams of driving Tasmania’s roads in his electric car, but the state’s lack of charging stations keeps him close to home – for now.

Mr Walkden, of Selbourne, is the secretary of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association and converted his 1992 Subaru Brumby to an electric car in 2012.

“We had a normal petrol Brumby and the engine started to die on it so we decided to go to electric,” he said.

“It took 18 months from the last drive as petrol to the first drive as electric.”

The association’s Tasmanian electric car community has about 100 members.

Some have electric cars, or have converted cars like Mr Walkden did, but many are aspiring to own an electric car once the state’s charging network grows.

Short-range electric cars can travel up to 150 kilometres, while new electric cars can travel up to 300 or 400 kilometres, Mr Walkden said.

“With short-range cars like this in Tasmania, you need another car if you’re going somewhere a long way away – unless you’re really enthusiastic.

“It’s a nice, reasonable range for Tasmania, if we can get some charging stations.”

A group of association members raised $500,000 to install fast charging stations in Tasmania.

“We hope to have the first one installed by the end of this year,” Mr Walkden said.

When converting his Brumby, Mr Walkden followed the Australian guidelines, with his conversion approved by an engineer.

He bought most of the components through Australian suppliers.

“There’s a big internet community of people who have converted their cars, which is hosted by the association,” he said.

“There’s lots of information on there and lots of very intelligent people to answer your every question. That’s where I got all the ideas of how to do it, and where to buy stuff and what’s best and what’s not.”

Mr Walkden has been tinkering with his Brumby to make it even better since its conversion.

“It’s gone through a number of different versions: I’ve replaced batteries and replaced motors. It goes even better now,” he said.