Forty electric cars displayed at conversion convention's show in Capaha Park

Sunday, September 30, 2012
Caleb Lander of Brewer, Maine points out a part of his 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle to Rick Bay of Lincoln, Neb., during 2nd Annual Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention's Electric Car Show Saturday, September 29, at Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau. Lander has converted the car to electric. (ADAM VOGLER)

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the attendance of the event.

About 1,000 people came out to Capaha Park on Saturday for one of the final events of the second annual Electric Vehicle Convention in Cape Girardeau. Forty cars that had been converted to run on electricity were on display and their owners were on hand to talk specifics with spectators.

"Other conventions in the country are nothing quite like this," said Richard Flentge, the convention manager. "They have trade shows for the technical and then guys get together and have the car shows. We have a combination, which is very unique."

This year the convention drew almost 200 people from around the world, nearly double the attendance of the 2011 convention.

"It's grown and the level of competition is much higher than last year," Flentge said. "It's growing in numbers, and [people] are putting a lot more into cars. The bar of competition in EV conversion is certainly being raised."

John Hardy is an engineer from England who wrote a book about electric vehicle technology.

"I developed an interest in electric conversion and have done a fair amount of research," Hardy said. "There's a lot of research on new forms of batteries as individual cells, but not as much on several cells together -- as in a car -- and how they act. Particularly how you manage them, how you charge them, keep them balanced."

Depending on the components and the method, a conversion can cost between $10,000 and $30,000. That does not include the cost of the vehicle body.

A 1971 red Porsche 914 was driven to Cape Girardeau by Jim Greesom of Fort Myers Beach, Fla. His wife, Bonita, helped him with the conversion.

"I found the car in Milwaukee and drove it to Florida. It was a 40-year-old piece of junk. It took nine to 10 months to restore the car," Greesom said. "The conversion took two to three months."

The Porsche won third place in the car show.

Last year, Kevin Heath, a chemical engineer from Georgetown, Ind., came for the convention, even though he did not have a conversion car.

"I like the fact there are people from all over the world here," Heath said. "It's phenomenal. It demonstrates this whole movement is not just here in the United States."

This year Heath brought his Mazda RX8 to the convention, where it won second place in the car show.

One of this year's speakers was Anne Kloppenborg from Amsterdam. This is his third visit to Cape Girardeau. His company does conversions for pleasure boats.

"There are no vibrations or sound in an electric boat," Kloppenborg said. "I can water ski behind the boat and carry on a conversation with the person driving. It's fun, plus it makes economic sense."

The winners of the car show were judged on weight and technical components: battery arrangement, wiring, motor, bracing, mounting and instrumentation.

The winner of the best technical vehicle was Dale Friedhoff's 200 Ford Ranger XLT from Grover, Mo.

The best overall award went to Alex Smith's Super Lite, sometimes called a XOSkeleton. He is from Gilmer, Texas.

Pertinent address:

Capaha Park, Cape Girardeau MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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