Electric vehicle conversions are gigantic projects, factoring in almost entire redesigns of combustion engine cars from aerodynamics and internal component considerations to software and OS programming. It’s a project that Bendigo Tech School’s Girls in STEAM team (STEAM being an abbreviation of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) has been working on for more than two years now.
At Fully Charged Sydney, I got to meet one of the project’s leads – Imani Dunne, who made such an ambitious project seem quite easy. Dunne is a university student that, when the director isn’t around, leads the car conversion project, calling the paid job easy and fun. She travels 40 minutes to the workshop and back to work on the car with the group.
“It’s so much fun, cause you learn things that you just didn’t know about cars, or you didn’t think would be involved in cars,” Dunne told Gizmodo Australia.
Dunne was exhibiting the car that Girls in STEAM is converting to electric – a 1973 Range Rover. She told me that the car was originally a “rust bucket” in a paddock, but it had been donated to the group as a project car.
“It started out with about 16 of us and now there’s around eight that go on and off, due to school times and stuff,” Dunne said.
Dunne added that one of the more difficult things about the process has been “lining up the different companies to work with.”
“We work with a lot of fabricating companies, but also the engineering and the electrics. Just lining them up properly to make sure you have everything in the right order,” Dunne said.
She said that when the team was getting started on the project in 2021, it was difficult to establish industry partners to collaborate with. Businesses were only starting to speed back up due to COVID restrictions and so things originally moved slowly.
So, what will the electrified Range Rover boast? Well, while the car currently has a Tesla battery and Model 3 FWD model motor inside that the team has converted to AWD, according to Dunne, it’s less about the end result and more about the process.
“It’s going to have 350km on a full charge, but it’s just sort-of to get girls involved in electric vehicles and changing the way we think about projects and, sort-of, figuring out if they enjoyed it and what they enjoyed about it – because it’s every step of the path that we’re involved in,” Dunne said.
“At the end of this, it’s going to be rentable, so we’ll see it around the community. It won’t just go to one person.”
And the message Dunne wants to give to girls who might be interested in a big project like this? “Just try it”.
“We are so interested in people just coming out and trying it,” she added.
“We don’t care if you’re not here every step of the way – just come and have fun and enjoy it and learn something you didn’t know about cars and just spit it off to people and make yourself sound really smart.”
The next step for the project is to wire in the batteries. The team has all of the wiring looms done, and Dunne said that it’s just a matter of connecting them to the rest of the car.
I can’t wait to see the team finish the job. Bravo to the Girls in STEAM team.
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