Francisco is an accomplished engineer, so when he realised that there was no vehicle in the Australian market that could do what he wanted, he decided to build one. He is now racing the Tesla Cybertruck to market. In his Aladdin’s cave of engineering treasure in his Brisbane workshop, he has a multitude of vehicles in transition to electric. His main project is his 2002 4-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Pajero. Now it is a race to see if he can finish his project before the Cybertruck gets here.
He has two Pajeros — one is being driven under petrol power and is slowly being done up to be a thoroughly modern electric vehicle inside and out. He showed me the circuit boards that will drive the electric windows and also the aftermarket variable indicator and parking lights. His boards are in high demand from others who are converting cars from fossil fuels to EVs. Even some Pajero owners on the Facebook page are interested in a potential conversion kit.
Francisco is also writing the software to make the Pajero a true 4WD EV, capable of off roading and towing 2.5 tons. He was originally planning for a 4.5 ton towing capacity but has since decided to stay with the car’s original specs. He is fitting sensors on the bumper bars and cameras for full 360 degree vision. He is on the lookout for a radar unit so he can fit adaptive cruise control. His labour is free and the after market accessories he has found are inexpensive, so the project is doable. It’s just finding the time. Who knows — it may grow into a business?
He is planning to convert the original dash to show EV readouts. The car has been soundproofed, keyless entry and door controllers fitted. His aim is to electrify everything that can be electrified. “Mitsubishi has not kept up, so I have to upgrade it,” he tells me.
The battery will be fitted in an H formation. In a four-wheel-drive vehicle, the diff is fixed, so you can put heaps of batteries underneath to drive the two powerful electric motors. He may even turn it into a part-time hybrid by towing a generator on a trailer behind the vehicle. Both the car and trailer will be fitted with regen braking.
Since EV servicing mainly involves checking circuitry, he is thinking of setting up a business servicing EVs at a fraction of the cost that dealerships charge. His wife’s MG was due for a service and they were quoted A$800 to change the battery coolant. Francisco can do it for A$150 — and offer a free detail!
An EV driving in the city would need very little service. Francisco estimates that after an initial 5,000 km service, the car would not need to be checked until it reached 60,000 km. It’s all about customer confidence. Can we trust these newfangled EVs? I would suggest the better question would be — can we trust the dealers. Another friend recently had his Ioniq EV serviced and found a charge for an oil change on the invoice!
Francisco is still driving the petrol Pajero. He tells me it feels dreadful compared to his EVs — an Atto 3 and an MG ZS EV. He can’t wait till he has his fully electric Pajero on the road. We discussed the concerns that some motor enthusiasts have — can they mod up an EV? He thinks EVs can be modified even more easily than fossil fuel cars. You just need a different skill set and aftermarket components — and some time on your hands.
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