CleanTechnica and EVObsession appreciate the innovative, including early EV adopters. Although we support the wonders of icons such as Elon Musk and his oh so Zen Teslas, we also value every other EV. Being an old organic farmer raised in innovative cultures of do-it-yourself lifestyles, I certainly value action-oriented individuals such as Sam Elliot. Sam is one of the doers not afraid of smaller range EVs to live the zero-emissions way of life. His innovative work helping him to use a smaller-range EV without that any range anxiety is one to be validated and cheered.
Jennifer Sensiba wrote our original article on this inspired doer: “DIY Solar LEAF Project Shows The Untapped Potential Of Solar EVs.”
“Sam Elliott, a resident of sunny Texas, ignored the naysayers and decided to see what he could accomplish. He bought a $3,000 2011 Nissan LEAF, and as you’d expect for that price, the battery was already heavily degraded. He then spent another $2,400 on solar panels, batteries, a charge controller, an inverter, and various mounting bits.”
EVObsession received a follow-up message from Sam and his wife, who explain:
Good morning! My husband and the creator, Sam Elliott, wrote this for you last night:
Hey EV Obsession,
Thanks for your interest in our project! I’ve been developing this idea over the last 2 years as the resale prices on early EVs has been falling into the 2–5 thousand dollar price range. Because the perception is these vehicles are useless, they have (what I consider) an artificially deflated market value.
The question I had was, can we take a very cheap, heavily degraded old EV, add a small solar powered on-board charging station, and add enough range to make it functional (if only as a commuter vehicle)? Could people recoup their investment in the EV, in savings on gasoline, in the brief life the EV has left?
I think there is a chance people could save enough on gas to pay for this project. I also think at the end of this project the battery (even with only 4 or 5 kWh of capacity remaining) can be removed from the vehicle and sold for $1k+, the small solar system could also be sold for $1k+ or transferred onto the next old EV.
I hope this project and my YouTube channel will show that you can save significant money by taking advantage of these deflated used EV prices, give people a low-budget EV option, and teach people a little about renewable energy while I’m at it. I discuss prices, part longevity, mileage, and all other data, in the interest of encouraging transparency and conversation.
Sam explains further, “CleanTechnica did an article on it a few months ago, but then it was the first functioning prototype, and now it is our everyday commuter car!”
Related story on a smaller range EVs: