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Eugene Weekly : Greener Ventures : 11.13.08




by Paula Hoemann

Are capitalism and sustainability compatible? What kind of modern business owner takes the long view over short-term profits? Can the ecological and social costs of doing business be taken into consideration on the profit/loss sheet along with paper and pens? What does our marketplace look like in a world where the real responsibilities of doing business are shouldered by the owners and visionary entrepreneurs? Well, I hope to show a glimpse here in Greener Ventures.

Julie Ankeny, owner of Sun Driven, is an entrepreneur who is not waiting for Detroit to kick the oil habit and offer some viable all-electric alternatives. Instead, she and her husband, Scott, are in the business of converting gasoline cars and trucks into all-electric vehicles. By removing all the gasoline engine parts and adding a battery/motor system, cars can run quiet, fast and long enough to do around-town commuting and errands. Load the kids, carpool to work, shop for groceries, meet with clients, deliver flowers — whatever — then plug it in at night and do it again the next day. No carbon emissions, no oil. After about three years the battery pack would need replacing at a cost of around $1,600. For many vehicles,  that’s less than maintenance and repairs in a three year period.

When asked how she got into this line of work, Julie says: “Scott has been an auto mechanic for years and bugged me and bugged me to learn how to fix cars so that if I ever broke down on the road I could help myself and I got to a point in my life where I decided ‘I can do it if he can do it’ and I love it.” But why electric? “It’s something that I can do, and it makes such a big impact on the environment. There’s no pollution: we’ve got the solar panels on the house, we don’t have to do the oil changes or worry about radiator fluid going on the ground and making animals sick, and when the batteries go, they’re 99 percent recyclable. And on a personal note, my son’s in the Air Force and been sent overseas twice, and maybe a lot of people don’t like to get political, but I think we shouldn’t be in this war and I feel like if I’m not buying gas, I’m making my statement there, too.”

For more information about Julie’s business, visit www.sundriven.org. or visit the Lane Electric Vehicle Association www.laneeva.org for great resources on electric vehicles.