I met Steve Clunn in 2006 in a band. We are both musicians and now a duo. He showed up at a gig in an all electric converted Mazda B2000 truck with 42 GOLF CART batteries on board, a DIXIE CHOPPER he had converted to ELECTRIC and he mowed lawns with an all electric.
I told him he could make a good living converting cars. Gas was at $4.19 a gallon! He said no as he was on the verge of losing everything. Which he did. Then in good old New England fashion I said “ HOLD MY BEER and watch this”. I quit a job I had for almost 20 years, walked away with a single pay check in my pocket and I started Green Shed Conversion, LLC.
Within months the world fell apart. 2008 was a disaster. So, like any musician, you pack up and move over to the next town. For the next 9 years we traveled all over the USA converting cars in customers driveways, garages and businesses. From CA to TX, OK to VA and south again to HOME. There are several pages on my web page dedicated to each year, unfortunately, the picture links need to be fixed.
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What was the first conversion performed by Greenshed?
You know, I can’t remember! We were just sitting here discussing it and neither one of us can remember. Back in 2007/2008 we had a few Ford SUV, a few S-10 Pickups. S-10’s were very popular along with Porsche 914. We did a hearse and a Ford Ranger that first year, along with an R&D project. Since then we have done Motorcycles, 18 Wheelers, Seadoo’s, bikes for kids, Factory 5 Cars, 40 Ft. Box Trucks, Cobras, Jeeps, Farm Equipment, you name it. See our summer web pages: 2011 to 2017.
What is the most recent or on-going?
Today, CJ7’s are big. We are on our 3rd in a row and classic cars. I have a 1956 Ford F500 Haying Truck that is a company car, along with a 1967 Morris MK1100.
We have a 1966 MG in our shop completed and waiting for transport. A 1994 Porsche Boxster we are just completing. Not Everyone wants a TESLA. Some want their own “Memory Car”. Steve let me do my own conversion back in 2008. This way I could learn to hopefully help him.
Steve Clunn is the GURU of this. I just answer the phone. He has been converting over 25 years. He is one of the last of the old boys! Now its mostly parts sales and high end over conversions. We still do under $50,000.00. and some real budget ones too. You can see more by following us on Instagram: ElectricCarsByGreenShed
From a design perspective how much has changed with your process?
Nothing. We convert almost exactly like Henry Ford did it in 1905. The only difference now is the controller; and of course the choices in batteries: Volt, Leaf and now Tesla Batteries. What a game changer the new batteries have been. We used golf carts for many years.
1800 lbs of lead acid vs. 500 lbs of Lithium. Lithium lasts 5x longer and is 5x lighter. Our first customer to buy Lithium, when they were so new, did not get a good deal from the company in China. But they have changed so much over the years. That first Pack cost him over $23,000.00 USD. Today, it would be about $10,000.00 USD for the same kWh.
You also focus on selling kits and allowing people to help in the conversion process. How did you come up with the idea for partial conversions, where the buyer helps with the build?
When we got off the road in 2013, I was afraid we would not have any business. We had to move from our location in Fort Pierce to Crystal River, FL (Lost our lease on the east coast garage). We didn’t know a soul over here in Crystal River, so I thought, how nice would it be for a working man to take his vacation, come to Florida. Swim with the Manatees and go home with a fully converted car.
So I set out a list of parameters to “GIT-R-DONE” and I have to say, all but one has been incredible. The customer gets some hands on experience, they learn, have fun. All have stayed in touch with us and keep us up on their “toys”.
Can you tell us about the team at Greenshed Conversions? Is it a combination of Electrical and/or Mechanical Engineers, Mechanics…?
None of the above. We are simple people. My husband Steve Clunn is the Guru. He has blown up enough products through the years to qualify as a MASTER conversionist. When he started, long before Green Shed, the only controller was a zappy that you had to buy from Italy. Nothing was in English, he had to figure it out.
All of this while mowing yards at $10.00 a lawn on a smelly nasty gas Dixie Chopper. The Engines on those fail and need to be replaced about every 2 years. When his gas failed, he happened to have a full electric set up.He spent the night putting it together and mowed his lawn in the morning! Steve has taken many Electrical Engineering courses are IRCC and IRSC. He is an Adjunct Professor there for the EV program when they run it. Without Steve Clunn there would be NO Green Shed Conversions.
He does all the conversions, tests all the parts, beta tests for our vendors. We were chosen along with EVWest to beta test the new Hyper9 set up. I own the company, but there would be no company without Steve. I do all the meet and greet. Set up the appointments, do the web page, answer the phones, do all the estimates buying and billing. Steve’s daughter Sara Clunn just came on board with us a few months ago and is incredibly proficient with the factory OEM EV’s, She is learning to take over the business from us. Her husband is self-employed, so on days he has no work, he comes here to help and learn.
Is there one particular conversion that sticks out as one of the best you have ever done?
Three actually. On my front web page is a video burn out with a White Porsche. We were in Oklahoma, and the owner that hired us, wanted to take it to the Tulsa Car show as the first electric. He told us this about 3 days from the show. We completed it at 2:00 a.m., got a few hours sleep, and set it up at the show for the 8:00 a.m. time. That is my favorite build.
The next would be by the same customer a 2002 Mini Cooper, we actually just sold it here in our town. That build is on our web page. We put VOLT batteries in it for 30 mile range for this customer and she is thrilled.
The next, I believe, would be under the assisted program here at the shop just recently. The first CJ7 we did. I would call the “best” at our shop. Money was no object to the customer. He wanted and got the very best in parts and time. Everything worked very well under that program. We were all happy when it was done. As a bonus to us. He gave us his Honda Insight! He was so happy and thrilled with the job we did for him.
Any particular conversion that you honestly felt could have gone better? Why?
Gone better? In hind sight, I would not to have spent months converting a vehicle only to be sued. OH YES VIRGINIA. SUED and SCREWED
Not once but twice, hence wire transfers only and no pay pal. These two suits are the start to my blog “How Killed the Electric Car Converter”. Soon to be published I hope. LOL.
Seeing that EV technology is changing so rapidly these days, how do you choose what batteries, motors and other components to use in your builds?
Experience. Lots of years of putting the wrong one in and have to change it.
We still do mostly DC conversions. The new Hyper9 is changing that and we have done a few, one on its way in the end of this month. DC is easy, its based on the weight and performance the customer wants. V8 ? V6? Or perhaps a real economical V4?
The Hyper9 is limited to 144V. Only available because uninformed people see AC in Tesla and think it’s the only way to go. Actually DC at the track beats a Tesla every time! Our good friend just raced at West Palm Beach with his DC converted car. He owns the “Black Pearl”. Check the sight for the stats.
Do you think any major auto OEM (like Tesla) will eventually sell their batteries, motors and other components direct to consumers or garages?
Yes. By not selling to us, they loose a large amount of seasoned mechanics and converters. And we are of no threat to their bottom line. We are still in the “hobby” stage.
As for garages, I have always said “We need garages in every town”. Trying to train young people has been a waste of time. We have offered free training for years. Only one taker in the last 12 years. He was a student at IRCC in their Electrical Engineering program, came to our shop to learn and took an old Porsche we had up in the back woods. Converted it and drove it for years. Completed his education at USF and now works full time for NASA. He actually just called us last night to say his wife had a baby!
Understanding that each build is unique, is there normally a certain aspect or step that takes the longest to get correct?
Wiring up the BMS is the most tedious and time consuming. We allow a good full 40 hours time just for that. The rest of the build, one man only, will take about 150 hours. We did do an assisted, both men motivated to and we completed it in 19 days!
Can you tell us a little about your shop and how its laid out?
We are a small green company, located on 2.5 acres, in the woods, with a small one car 20 x 30 shop. A lift on a 20 x 20 pad outside the shop. We have 5 small 2 car “tents” to protect customers cars from the elements. We have 50 solar panels set up on a Pergola to help with the charging and offset the utility usage. We are not some fancy garage on Main Street. A green company is not for everyone.
A potential customer made an appointment, to discuss converting his Mercedes to electric using Tesla parts. They showed up in his Tesla, stayed about 3 minutes and took off, clearly unimpressed.
We are green. We have a silly old dog that loves everyone, a crazy rabbit that has taken over our porch and depending on the time of year, chickens running around.
How much time does each car take to be road ready (on average)?
We only work about 4 hours a day on each vehicle. Some we are waiting on parts, or paint to dry, or what ever. That translates into about a 3 month job. It can be done in 19 days ( our very best time on an assisted build). That is what the assisted is suppose to be; IN and OUT. But, unfortunately, there is always one that has to ruin it for everyone one.
(On average) What is the cost to the customer for purchasing one of your conversions?
$30,000. 00 to $50,000.00. We do very little or few interiors. But some people, I think EVwest is capable of fancy dashes, interior work and paint. We only do the actual conversion.
Greenshed is a smaller player in the conversion market (compared to say EV West), but rapidly growing on social media. What would you attribute this too, other than producing quality conversions?
REPEAT business. Almost all of our customers have done 2 conversions. One did 9! EV west is a bunch of kids. They are fairly new compared to us. They basically sell parts. Good people, and they only want to do the high end $100,000.00 stuff, which is great. They do recommend us for the small cheap stuff which is OK with us. The EV WEst people are going to take us to the next level we hope! We are getting old, 25 years is a longtime. We were going to retire. But we LOVE what we do. So I guess we do it until we can’t any more.
What’s in the future for Greenshed?
We are hoping his daughter will take it over and keep it going. The young are the ones that will take us to the next page. There were no garages when Henry Ford completed his cars. Now there is one on every corner. I hope to see that for EV’s one day.
There is almost no maintenance, but some times they need a little TLC. I have had my ’67 as a daily driver for about 10 years now, the only thing I have had to do to it is new tires and recently we put in new brakes. First I had old China High power cells in, then the Winston Cells ( they did VERY well, 8 years use on old stock and still have a good capacity). Now, VOLT and 3 trays of Tesla cells. Only because I want to show these off at the car shows.
What about your thoughts on the direction of the conversion market as a whole?
I think it’s inevitable. It has to happen. Our young, 21 -30 they “get” it. They know we as a world have to do better.
How many projects is your team currently working on?
3 and one coming in the end of the month. And one 8- 12 weeks after that. We sit down with that customer this saturday.
How can people find out more about Greenshed conversions and get in touch with you?
Our Web page: www.Greenshedconversions.com and Instagram: ElectricCarsByGreenShed And if they have questions, we don’t mind an email: Steveclunn@gmail.com
You can read tips Greenshed Garage shared with us on starting our own shop here
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