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A grandmother builds her own solar-charged electric car to 'escape' the oil industry and defend the environment


This Honda City called ‘Frida’ has been working without problems for three years, being able to travel about 120 kilometers without charging.

A grandmother from New Zealand has made his own electric car, which is charged by solar panels, in their attempt to show that it is possible to become independent from the oil industry to protect the environment.

Rosemary Penwarden, 63, created the vehicle from the body of a 1993 car that you bought in a deposit. She with her own hands removed the engine and replaced it with a new gearbox and an electric motor, local media report. She then added 24 batteries under the hood and 56 in the trunk. A total of 24,000 dollars was spent, between the purchase of materials and labor and invested about 8 months of work.

Thanks to the help of knowledgeable friends in the industry, he was able to get the parts he needed, as well as supervision during the works, which were carried out at Valley Workshop, a cooperative in Dunedin’s North East Valley that she helped create six years earlier. There was James Hardisty, owner of EV-lution, a business that turns cars into electric vehicles.

In this way, he managed to create a Honda City called ‘Frida’, which can travel about 120 kilometers without needing a load, and which has worked without problems for three years, according to The Guardian. Penwarden said the car was similar in size to a 2010 Nissan Leaf, which was one one of the first electric vehicles to be available to the public. Recently, the project has aroused the interest of the local media.

Economic or environmental motivation

Despite the economic impact of the new car on Penwarden’s life, the motivation behind the project was not rising gas prices, but rather the desire to become independent from the oil industry in general, since he has worked as a activist environment for years.

“I guess I should thank the oil companies, like Anadarko, NZ oil and gas, Shell, OMV, Beach Energy… These are all companies that my Oil Free Otago group and I have opposed for many years,” he said. “It motivated me to become independent from oil and show them that it is not needed here“.

“The most important thing is help stop the biggest polluters as soon as possible, and I think nothing we can doing as individuals matters as much as that,” Penwarden notes. “Just being able to show that it can be done is priceless,” he stresses.

James Hardisty, the owner of EV-lution, has converted around 15 vehicles and has helped others convert their own cars. He also helps people like Penwarden set up their own solar panel charging system. “It’s great for the environment… You don’t have to worry about what’s going on in the world if there’s a war… If all the oil dries up tomorrow, we would move on,” he said.

His own car, a Toyota RAV4 converted to an electric vehicle in 2010, runs today on the same battery. “Thanks to this (car) I have prevented 25,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere,” he is proud.


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