Bob’s Ultimate Driving Machine

Bob Simpson's EVPeople with the ability to take something that interests them and turn it into a passion have always fascinated me, and, I might add, raised a certain amount of envy as well. And, even more so, when that passion makes a difference, not only in that person’s life, but in the lives of all of us as well. Quite often, and usually during times of crisis, these people come to our attention because the focus of their passions offer solutions to that very crisis.

Enter Bob Simpson, who gave a presentation at a recent Solar Oregon gathering that I attended. He briefly described the conversion of his gasoline powered BMW to an all electric drive system, but he also shared additional information that revealed that there was more to his story than just an electric car. Here was a person with a vision and a mission. Bob is passionate about electric vehicles, but that has not always been the case.

It all started about three years ago when a series of seemingly unrelated events changed the course of his life forever.

First, concerned with the environmental effects of his daily commute in his gas powered car, he was following the development of the Tesla electric drive roadster which was promising a new standard of performance for electric vehicles (EV). Bob wanted an EV and Tesla was proving to him that the time had come for him to go electric. The problem: an electric Tesla costs over $100,000.

Second, high-speed internet connections were now available in the outlying area where he lived. He could now connect with the world using a 21st century tool.

Third, the high tech company were he was working, and had been for the last for 30 years, was sold to a new owner resulting in a buy out of the stock that he had accumulated over all those years. This stock buy back presented him with an unexpected chunk of change that needed to be invested somewhere.

Fate was obviously appealing to Bob’s inner pioneering spirit to investigate the emerging EV frontier, so he opted for that all-important DSL connection to the internet. This became his door to an online classroom for expanding his knowledge of electric motors, battery technology, charging theory and dynamics, and Tesla innovation, as well as a tool for communicating with experienced EV experts around the world. He decided that building his own EV was the way to go and so he committed himself and his windfall fund to doing just that. After three years of hard work, Bob is now driving an all electric 2003 BMW, that is not only on the cutting edge of technology, but is fun to drive.

While building his EV, he started thinking about the electricity needed to “fuel” it. That led him to the idea for a solar array that would generate enough electricity to power both his home and his car, and so he made plans to install one. This ability to be a “net zero” energy consumer was a major turning point.

Others have built their own EVs and gone solar, so Bob is not the first to do so. The Oregon Electric Vehicle Association and other chapters of the national organization, Electric Auto Association, have numerous members that have also taken this route to eliminate their need for oil. Still others make a living converting cars to electric drive or selling conversion components to do-it-yourselfers.

But Bob marches to a different drummer, or perhaps more accurately, to no drummer at all. We could expect that someone driving a car that emits nothing into our air, and, at the same time, outperforms the original BMW that was designed and engineered by some of best minds in the world, would be ready to rest on their laurels. Not Bob. He sees the big picture, he sees the looming crisis, and he sees now, after years of research and hard work, that there is a solution. He passionately believes that the EV is that solution and he is out to convince the rest of the world to go electric.

Here’s the bottom line. We are all facing an oil driven, environmental/national security crisis which, if not addressed today, will spell disaster tomorrow. There are existing and emerging solutions that can alleviate this crisis and these solutions are available today because of years of effort on the part of a few passionate pioneers. We are all indebted to the many “Bobs” of the world and the least we can do is put the spotlight on them, give them the recognition they deserve, thank them and, most importantly, follow them. Too bad there aren’t any “Oscar”, “Tony”, “Grammy” and “Emmy” awards for them. Must be that those kinds of awards are only given to those involved in far more important endeavors.

For more information about Bob’s work go to

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