Just the other day, the city of Santa Monica's brand new electric conversion Ford Ranger quietly zipped passed me, and it dawned on me that the age of of gas to electric conversions may be near.

Last year the founder of G2E (Gas to Electric) Paul Pearson got in a row with the city for not having a proper license to "manufacture" electric vehicles. The row turned out well for Pearson who ended up with a city contract out of the deal, and last month the first Ford Ranger was delivered to Santa Monica.

The newly electrified Ford Ranger goes 35 miles on a charge and reaches a top speed of 55 mph, so it's not for the typical driver. But it does bode well for an industry that may soon grow as more and more people look for ways to save money and reduce emissions. It costs about 2.5 cents per mile to operate the vehicle (compared to about 17 cents for gasoline) so it's sort of like paying about 50 cents per gallon.

But of course the emissions for electric power are FAR superior to gas power. In California, which has a relatively clean grid (about .66 lbs CO2 per kWh), that would mean a vehicle that has about 15 times fewer emissions and (as importantly) these emissions don't create smog. Moreover, instead of buying a new car (with all its embodied energy) you can take a cheap used car with good bones and give it a new electrified lease on life. And only three moving parts to worry about!

As I'm pondering my next car purchase, I'm drawn to the idea of a used vehicle because the embodied energy is much lower but generally the gas mileage stinks. So an electric conversion looks appealing, but be forewarned the payback period is about 20 years.

Santa Monica revels in 1st electric Ranger
G2E (Gas to Electric) converts first Ford Ranger for the city of Santa Monica, proving that conversions are a viable alternative.