This B.C. company wants to electrify your Porsche, your mini van and your school bus

Click to play video: 'Vancouver company converts gas vehicles to EV’s'
Vancouver company converts gas vehicles to EV’s
A Vancouver company is getting attention for converting gas vehicles to EV's. As Aaron McArthur reports, they're hoping their technology will someday save school districts hundreds of thousands of dollars – Apr 29, 2022

Dean Kneider’s 1976 Porsche 912 gets plenty of looks for its classic styling and slick green paint job.

But what’s green under the hood is what really makes the car special.

“People come up and say, ‘Wow, is that electric?'” Kneider told Global News, showing off the vehicle in his East Vancouver shop.

Kneider is president and CEO of Riise EV, a Vancouver-based company that specializes in electric conversion, and the Porsche — his daily ride — is one of the company’s products.

The eye-catching and virtually silent sports car recently got people talking at the Vancouver Sun Run, where it led the race as the 10K run’s pace car.

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“This has way more appeal, I’ve done something right, I’ve kept an old classic on the road, I’m greener, cleaner, no emissions, and it just makes logical sense,” he told Global News.

The conversion involved removing the car’s old 87-horsepower engine and replacing it with a 130-horsepower electric motor Kneider jokingly called a “60-pound turkey.”

Add in the batteries and the car is about 100 kilograms heavier but delivers 50 per cent more power.

In its current stage, Riise EV specializes in converting sports cars and classic cars, usually at a cost of about $50,000 to $100,000.

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“The cars are cool and we’ll always do them to keep the classics on the road. And people are willing to pay the price to get into them, to have them fully electric,” Kneider said.

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“A lady called me with a ’76 Volkswagen bug, a guy came in with an old Rolls Royce, I’ve had guys come in here with tractors and RVs.”

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But that’s just the start. The company also advertises commercial fleet and bus conversion, an avenue Kneider hopes to see scale up into a core element of the business.

At the right scale, he said, converting a school bus to electric would cost about half the price of a $400,000 new vehicle — making both economic and environmental sense.

“Buses are a massive opportunity for us,” he said.

“We’re trying to do a platform with buses that we can do a massive amount of buses at half the price, so we could give back $100,000 to schools for sports equipment and $100,000 for music equipment and still have an electric bus.”

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As a part of its pitch to fleet vehicle operators, the company says it works within the guidelines of government-funded green subsidy programs, ensuring owners qualify for credits and refunds for the conversions.

Electric conversions, in Kneider’s mind, are an unexploited niche market and a key step for Canada as the country tries to shift out of gas powered engines and into zero emission vehicles by 2030.

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Converting conventional vehicles to electric would help the country meet its climate change goals sooner, while avoiding the waste associated with retiring millions of cars that are already on the road, he said.

The conversion job can also be done quickly, more in the ballpark of months than the current years-long wait list for new electric vehicles.

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To that end, along with the company’s bus and fleet vehicle goals, Kneider hopes to develop a more affordable conversion kit that would make the process accessible to anyone with a mini van.

“There’s a lot of things that just make it for the next 10 to 15 years more logical just to convert than to do anything else,” he said.

“Not everyone can afford a Tesla, not everyone can afford an electric car, but somebody could afford $30,000 and convert their existing car if we get to that kind of scale.”

Those business goals haven’t been realized yet, and Kneider said there are still Transport Canada regulations that stand in the way of getting the bus business where the company wants it.

He conceded it will take a few years to get where he wants the company to go, but said Riise EV’s six-person team and its investors have both a vision and the passion to get there.

“Persistence is one,” he said.

“Plus I’m being driven by my children to be successful in something that changes the world.”

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