Transportation

You Can Go Far with GoElectric

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You Can Go Far with GoElectric

After seeing an article about Tesla and electric vehicles (EV), Jim Steil realized this was the future. As both an electrical engineer and a “bit of a car guy,” he decided he was going to be part of that future. Six weeks after reading the article, he was laid off from his oil patch job; he decided the time was ripe to pursue his new dream.

His original plan was to convert classic cars into electric vehicles. The first vehicle Steil set about converting was his 1966 Volvo, his “eVolvo” as he called it. Word of his plans soon spread, and requests poured in from locals, many wanting their commuter cars converted, or wanting to know what would be involved in converting it themselves. However, delivering a safe, reliable, high-quality final product requires a lot of time and expensive parts, like Tesla batteries for example.

After more research, Steil and his partner, David Lloyd, found the best option for most folks was simply to buy an EV, and the idea of GoElectric was born. GoElectric is the first exclusively electric vehicle dealership in Alberta, and only the second in Canada.

GoElectric imports used EVs from California. Because of government incentives in California encouraging consumers to purchase new electric vehicles, many lease a new EV for two years, then upgrade. This leaves a bounty of unwanted almost-new electric vehicles.


“Two-year-old EVs cost less than half as much as buying them new,” said Steil.


Many of the used cars at GoElectric are priced under $20,000, with the low-end closer to $15,000. Even a high-end electric BMW with improved range comes in about $30,000, compared with the $65,000 price tag to drive it off the lot brand new.

Thanks to their reliability and incredible efficiency – accentuated by high gas prices versus Alberta’s cheap electricity rates – electric vehicles can be as much as 10 times cheaper to drive than a gas-guzzler. Steil spends $20 a month on electricity for his electric vehicle and drives 80 km each day.

Along with sales staff, GoElectric also employs mechanics trained to service EVs, although one of the benefits of electric vehicles is their low maintenance demands. Of the 10 most common repairs to conventional gas cars, none apply to EVs. In addition to the cost savings, electric vehicles are much more responsive and quieter. But Steil encourages people to test drive an EV to find out for themselves, and get what is known in the industry as “the EV grin.”

Steil and Lloyd are confident they will meet their goal to sell 200 EVs per year. They also want to add 70kW of solar panels to the roof of the dealership to power a quick charging station for electric vehicles.

But their aspirations don’t stop at the used EV dealership: they still want to help people convert their cars, bikes, quads and boats to electric, and will be opening a 7,000 sq. ft. space in the dealership’s basement, dubbing it The GoElectric EV Underground Makerspace.

 “To continue converting our own vehicles, and help others convert their vehicles themselves is where our real passion lies,” said Steil.


Learn more about GoElectric here.

For more information on how to undertake your own clean tech project, check out the resources page.

Submit your new energy story here.


Up to Speed: Youth Pushing Boundaries of Vehicle Technologies

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Up to Speed: Youth Pushing Boundaries of Vehicle Technologies

The University of Calgary Solar Car team and the University of Alberta EcoCar team are two great examples of Alberta students taking hands-on action to teach themselves and their communities about renewables and clean technology. These student groups design, build and race solar electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in national, continental and international competitions.

University of Calgary Solar Car team

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The University of Calgary Solar Car Team aims to participate in several competitions, but primarily in a three-day race in America. The team is made up of 65 students in four main undergraduate subteams: Mechanical, Electrical, Software, and Business. Engineering Project Manager, Morgan Grab, says one of the team’s main objectives is to involve students in every step of the design, build and troubleshooting process, giving them hands-on experience through working on an electric car and with solar modules.

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Business Project Manager Sarah Lam appreciates how the team enables her to empower other people and connect to her community. She says through its outreach, primarily classroom presentations and talks, team members feel as though they are able to “generate excitement about the possibilities in energy that we will have in the future,” and to teach younger students about the basics of renewable energy and car design. They also engage with the larger Calgary community by showcasing renewables as a viable and tangible option for Albertans. Grab says that by working on solar, they show “it’s not in the background or overseas, but it’s happening here, in the heart of Calgary.”

University of Alberta EcoCar team

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The University of Alberta EcoCar builds two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: an urban car that emulates the look of an normal car, and a racing prototype. They compete at the Shell Eco Marathon, a continental efficiency competition in the U.S. Their team is composed of undergraduate and graduate students divided in six sub-teams totalling around 80 members.

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The team engages with the community through showcasing their cars at events, going to schools, engaging with political figures, university alum, and staff. Many students are drawn to the group as it allows them to practically apply their degree. Mechanical team lead, Shivam Jasawl, sees the benefit in participating in design and redesign cycles. Shivam says working on EcoCar gives him a chance to “apply what I am learning about, make my own assumptions and test them, and if everything I assumed was completely wrong, I get to ask why was it wrong and iterate it.”

“If the members of EcoCar continue to work in Alberta, we can take the principles we have learned about sustainability and efficiency and apply it to wherever we work in the future,” he adds.


These groups show things can be done differently, and students are ready to be a part of, and maybe one day lead, this innovation.

“This is oil country. When people hear that students are doing something different with hydrogen in Alberta, it makes an impact,” Shivam says.

As Grab puts it, “it’s always in the forefront of our mind that we can do things a different way. I hope that we can be that spark, that starts that innovation and gets people’s minds going about renewables. We want to show that it is possible and that there is an alternative.”


For more information on how to undertake your own clean technology project, check out the resources page.

Submit your new energy story here.