14-Year-Old Turns a '72 VW Beetle into an Electric Car

It will be another two years before Ashton Stark can get his driver's license, but that's not stopping the 14-year-old from looking to the future -- and in more ways than one. With a keen sense of green and a little engineering savvy, Ashton succeeded in transforming his grandfather's 1972 Volkswagen Beetle into a cleaning running, all-electric eco-vehicle. According to the Argus Observer, the high school sophomore from Oregon spent nearly a year making the old car more fitting for the 21st century than most modern vehicles -- and all for around $4,000. Ashton, with the help of his father, equipped the Beetle with nine golf cart batteries, used to power a single motorized shaft which can propel the car for nearly 50 miles on less than 10 cents worth of electricity.

The converted Beetle is no slow-poke either, able to reach speeds upwards of 45 miles per hour. As the car gets more time on the road, an onboard computer will gather performance data as well.

Ashton's dad, Noel, says that the whole process of making the car run on electricity wasn't too terribly complicated, telling the Observer:

I think any vehicle can be converted to electricity. It is so simple to get one I don't know why more people don't own one. It doesn't have to be a Bug, it can be any light weight vehicle: a Porsche, a Toyota or a Honda. It would be a great neighborhood or commuter vehicle and would save a fortune on gas.

It may be years before all-electric vehicles begin to dominate the car market, so Ashton hopes his DIY spirit catches on for now. He's even given some thought to converting other people's cars to all-electric. "I think if more people had them," he said, "it would help the community a lot."

Ashton will have to wait a few weeks before taking his cool new eco-car out on the open road himself, since he's still not even old enough to get his learner's permit yet.

While college may still be some years off for the inventive 14-year-old, there's little doubt his will be a bright future. And given the fact that forward-thinking, eco-minded youngsters like Ashton are out there dreaming up ways to make things a bit greener, everyone else's future seems a little brighter too.

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Tags: Commuting | Driving | Electric Cars