Los Lunas man turns old VWs into fast, energy efficient cars

LOS LUNAS N.M. (KRQE) – A local man is feeding his need for speed and reducing his carbon foot print by living completely off energy from the sun. He’s using its power to charge a one-of-a-kind electric car, right in his own garage.

Jarrod Bottenelli, who lives in Los Lunas and is an Albuquerque firefighter, is combining his two passions — energy conservation and cars — to make a difference.

Now working on car number two, Jarrod Bottinelli says he wants to show that electric cars can actually be fast, fun to drive, and better for the planet.

He’s also now putting money back into his pocket.

“So far I have gone almost 17,000 miles in this [Volkswagen] and have not burned one single drop of fuel,” said Bottinelli.

More than five years ago, Bottenelli decided to install 30 solar panels on his home. That equals 8.2 kilowatts of power, which is enough for his entire household and then some.

“Using the surplus energy, I wanted to build an electric car. I had no idea how it would turn out and then I built this [engine] and I can’t even believe how fast it is,” said Bottenelli.

After months of hitting the books and trial and error, Bottenelli completely transformed a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle into a high-tailing energy-saving machine.

The car can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds, and instead of a gas tank, Bottenelli plugs his car right into his home.

The 42 lithium iron phosphate batteries get their charge from the power generated by his home’s solar panels. The batteries can also give enough charge to run a motor typically seen in small trucks.

Right now, the 1968 Beetle can go 90 miles on one charge, but Bottenelli says he’s using what he’s learned by building this car to make another one that will be even faster.

“I’m trying to show that electric cars are actually a lot faster and a lot more fun to drive, a lot better for the planet, and maintenance free,” said Bottenelli.

Bottenelli also says that when you add it all up, he’s saving up to $200 a month in electric bills that he doesn’t have to pay, and about $100 per month on gasoline that he doesn’t have to use. On top of that, he says PNM even cuts him a check for $200 to $300 dollars during the summer months.

When asked what he’s going to do with all the money he’s saving, Bottinelli responded that he’d like to build more cars.

Right now, Bottenelli says this is just a hobby and doesn’t plan on selling them.

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