Inventor designing electric truck |

Inventor designing electric truck

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

It may sound like a crazy idea, hooking up 24 golf-cart batteries in series to power a pickup, similar to hooking a lawn chair to a birthday-party-full of helium balloons and going for a ride. That is until you see Trace Gordon in action.

He seems a perfectionist who works in his orderly garage, and all of the modifications he has made on the newer-model Chevrolet, are machined, fitted and welded with the tolerances expected in a race car.

His driveway has two late-model natural gas vehicles that he purchased to do his part for the environment, and now he wants to do more.

He is an inventor, having held 12 patents on fitness equipment, and having done pretty well in the process financially, he is turning his talent toward inventing an electric car that he can recharge with solar panels he hopes to mount on his home.

Gordon started his career as an inventor literally by accident. In 1985, a bike left him with internal injuries, broken femurs and severed vocal chords. He underwent grueling sessions of physical therapy, and it was then that he started thinking about exercise equipment. He has been inventing exercise equipment since, some, bought by major companies, are still in production.

But, he said, he has grown tired of exercise equipment and "wanted to do something more beneficial for mankind."

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The motor he bought is a 144 volt DC power source, which he said is extremely reliable. He said the car will make little noise, use no motor oil, and most importantly, produce no emissions. He has framework built into the chassis to hold the 24 batteries, each weighing 65 pounds. He hopes he can wind out a top speed around 80 miles per hour, and get about 60 miles to a charge.

But what does Gordon know about electric cars? "This is sort of a new area for me," he admits. He educated himself by talking with other people and reading a lot of books. He lives on the Jeremy Ranch golf course, but that had nothing to do with his planned use of golf cart batteries, which instead, he chose because they are well suited for electric cars, and many electric car prototypes have successfully used them as a power source.

But pollution-free batteries have to be recharged, and it is likely the power plant uses an environmentally-unfriendly energy source. So, Gordon wants to install solar panels on his home, to both provide supplemental power to his home and recharge his car. He is currently working with the Jeremy Ranch Homeowners Association to get panels approved.

He believes he will have the electric-powered truck finished in three months. The controller, which orchestrates impulses of energy translated from driver input, and sends pulses of electricity to the motor to control speed, is so popular with others building electric cars that he is on a three-month waiting list to get one.

Gordon is already making environment-friendly plans connected with solar panels. He said he has several warehouses in Salt Lake and he would like to use their roof space to mount solar panels, then lease them to people who could sell the power they generate back to utilities.

Gordon said he has no ambitions of eventually putting his electric car in production, but more to see if he can learn anything new, information he could share with others. "I’m sure there are better ways than the ways we are doing these things," he said.