From gas to batteries: Huntington man converts truck

Friday, March 4, 2011 - 1:22pm

Huntington, TX — Mack Darnell, of Huntington, says he's been interested in converting his truck to electric for decades, but he never had time or money to do it until he recently retired.

He says high gas prices and curiosity pushed him to do it. A few years ago, he bought a $400 Chevy S-10, and took the motor, exhaust system, and gas tank out of it.

Darnell then got online instructions and ordered the parts when he had the money. "They don't really show you where the parts have to go, so you have to more or less figure out these things for yourself," he says.

Two years and $9,000 later, Darnell has an electric truck--sparking curiosity across his hometown. He says, "When I drive to the store, people ask me about it. They say, 'Is that really an electric car?' "

With 16 golf cart batteries in the back and four in the front, Darnell does not pay at the pump for his trips to town. He plugs the truck into an extension cord placed at night. He says 8-10 hours of charging gets him 30 miles. He has faced criticism from people saying the truck doesn't travel far enough, but he says,"I think it would be good for people that live close to work."

Although electric vehicles are on the market, Darnell says converting an old vehicle is more affordable: "Electric vehicles are priced out of range for ordinary working people."

The truck is his only conversion. but he is passing the idea down the family line. "My son, he lives up in South Dakota right now, he converted a bicycle into electric."

Darnell says using the truck costs $15 a month in electric bills.

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