There are a lot of ways a person could spend four years of their life – earn a degree, learn a language, or even get a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Richmond business owner Vincent Yu spent the past four years converting his Rolls-Royce into an electric vehicle. It required not just endless hours in the garage/basement but almost as many flying to the U.S., Japan and Germany to purchase specialized car parts.
“Many people think I’m nuts, hearing my idea of converting my gasoline car to an electric one. But I’m so used to people making fun of me. My head is always in the clouds,” laughed Yu.
But no one’s laughing now. Not only does Yu have an electric Rolls-Royce, he also has a brand new business.
Yu said he decided to use what he learned over the past four years to open a shop, Mars Power, in north Richmond where he plans to convert other vehicles from gasoline to electric.
But while Yu is proud of his accomplishments -- they came with a cost. To convert his RR, he had to sell his house to help pay for the project. That didn’t sit well with his wife, who got so fed up with his project she left him, Yu explained.
“Only my neighbour understands what I have been through over the past four years because I forced them to take a look at my work as it progressed daily,” he added.
Yu said his newly converted electric Rolls-Royce can run for 500 kilometers on a full charge, adding that it only costs him $8 in electricity to charge the battery compared with $120 to fill his tank with gasoline.
Yu said he got the idea to convert his car into an EV after his oldest daughter came home from school one day and gave him some attitude about his driving habits.
“You shouldn’t act like a wealthy douchebag by driving a stinky car around town and polluting the air,” is how his daughter put it, according to Yu.
“So I started thinking, why don’t I convert the car on my own,” said Yu.
“Growing up, I have always been this crazy kid who kept dreaming of doing something ground-breaking in the world -- even if it seems impossible.”
To make his daughter proud, the fifty-year-old engineer began his long and sometimes difficult journey.
He found a small team of mechanics and machinists to help him and together they worked on the project almost every day. It’s that team he’s now employed at his new shop.
“We removed all the vehicle components, from the fuel tank to engine to the car exhaust. We aimed to build an electric motor, charger and battery pack for the car,” said Yu,
“Now, I might be the first person in Richmond to convert a luxury car into an electric vehicle.”
When asked if the four-year effort was worth it, Yu replied: “I am happy as long as my story could make one person on earth laugh while starting to think about climate change.”