My newspaper's business section has a full-page article about Nathan Hutchison, the 22 year old owner ( and sole employee) of Hutchison Electric Auto, located in El Cerrito, CA (www.hutchinsonelectric.com
). He left school in 2008, where he was taking mechanical engineering, and got a job and an on-the-job education as the shop manager of Green Motors, an electric car specialty store in Berkeley. He quickly decided that converting IC automobiles to electric and plug-in electric assist was his calling in life.
After Green Motors went belly-up, Hutchison inherited many of the stranded customers and used them to start his business. The first year his gross revenue was about $95,000. He projects the business' revenue this year to be between $150,000 and $200,000. He adds lithium batteries (the article's picture shows lots of light green and light tan prismatic batteries) to IC cars. He says the easiest car to convert are VW bugs, but he will convert any car to electric power for the right price. VW bugs can be converted to electric for around $25,000, according to the article.
Between IC to electric conversions, the main work he does is adding plug-in features to the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape. The battery packs that he uses come in two sizes and range in price from $6,000 to $11,500 for the Prius and $7,500 to $15,000 for the Escape. In the "blended" mode, the cars can get 80 to 180 miles per gallon.
Not only does Hutchison build the battery packs for local customers, he is also in demand nationally and inter-nationally. He is currently shipping a battery pack to the Netherlands.
His shop is currently located in a shed in his backyard, but he hopes to soon find a larger shop and eventually hire some employees to help with his growing workload.
One of his customers, Patricia Heller of Daly City, CA, added the plug-in mode to her Prius last year and was impressed with Hutchison's expertise. She says that "Nathan's passion for electric cars is inspiring, I've had several great encounters with him in the process of 'greening' my transportation and have always come away with a feeling of excitement about this project"