Russell Cole gets a charge every time he drives by a gas station.
It's what's inside this Kensington man's customized 1990 Ford Festiva that accounts for his ability to bypass fill-ups of fossil fuel.
That's because he's transformed his once gasoline-dependent car into an electric version of its former self.
"I don't have big signs that say this is an electric car. People just think it's just any other car," says Cole, whose put together an electric motor and battery storage system that does him for short hauls of 80 kilometres round trip or less.
It's not Cole's first go at self-made electric cars.
In fact, in 1970 he converted a Volkswagen Beetle, which in an era of grandiose gas-guzzlers was even more of an auto anomaly than his present day car.
"There weren't many around back then," he admits.
"It's just a good idea. Gasoline cars are not very good. They're not efficient at all. A lot of people aren't aware of the fact that most of the gasoline you put in your car is wasted. It's stated on the United States Department of Energy website that 14 to 26 per cent of your gasoline moved your car and the rest is all (wasted). So when you're filling your car with expensive gas you're only getting the benefit of a small part of that gas."
Electric cars, on the other hand, are very efficient, Cole says.
"The electricity you put in, you get most of it back when you run the car."
Cole was living in British Columbia when he refurbished his first electric car using a design of his own.
He drove it to work for about six months and then because the batteries weren't a deep cycle type that should be used in that circumstance they began to deteriorate.
Cole jumpstarted his electric car idea again about five years ago.
"I wanted to do this so I drove around looking for an available car and (the Festiva) was sitting in somebody's yard. They were about to take to the junkyard so I got it for $100. I put a lot of work into it, fixing it all up," he says.
When Cole moved to Kensington a few years ago he put his pet project on a U-Haul trailer and towed it along for the cross-country ride.
"I didn't want to give it up," he laughs.
The Festiva has already had a complete battery overhaul.
Cole started with eight deep cycle 12-volt lead acid batteries, which tipped the scale at 227 kilograms (500 pounds).
However, with electric cars less weight is definitely more.
"With those in the car I could only go about 20 kilometres. It left something to be desired so I wanted to make it better. So I had to spend more money but it improved it a lot," says Cole, who installed a new lightweight motor about six months ago and splurged on better batteries.
"This car here is so much better because it uses lithium ion batteries, which is the latest state-of-the-art battery. They are in the back where the backseat used to be," he says of his 32-cell system that is 104-volts total with a weight of 100 kilograms (220 pounds).
"It's less than half the weight and I can go 80 kilometres with it," he says.
Cole has added a monitor that gives a digital readout of the battery voltage, the level of battery charge and more.
"That's like a gas gauge," he says.
There are a few charging stations on P.E.I. but Cole does not have the fixture required to connect to them, so he's tied to home charging for now.
Fortunately he has a solar panel setup for his household so some of that powers his Festiva.
"It will go right along with all the traffic 90 kilometres an hour or whatever you get to cruise right along at normal speed," he says.
"You never have to go to a gas station. You just come home and plug it in like your cell phone and that's it."
Cole estimates that a round-trip drive from his Kensington home to Summerside costs about 75 cents for five-kilowatt hours. For his gasoline car, which he uses in the winter and for longer drives, that same journey would cost more than $4.
He has invested close to $10,000 for the motor and batteries for his one-of-a-kind electric car.
"Some day all of us will have to go to electric because the oil isn't going to last forever," Cole says.
"When it takes a barrel's worth of energy to get a barrel's worth of oil out of the ground that will be the end of it. And it's getting closer to that all the time."