Have Your Saturn Converted to an All-Electric Car

Starting later this year, Advanced Mechanical Products (AMP), a company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, will take your pre-existing or newly purchased Saturn Sky and convert it to an electric car.

[social_buttons]Initially only available for the Sky, AMP will add other Saturn models as company growth allows.

The company is currently taking orders for a limited run of 300 “signature series” Sky conversions. The Sky EV will be able to go from 0-60 mph (0-97 kph) in 5.7 seconds, will have a top speed of 90 mph (145 kph), and can go 150 miles (240 kilometers) before needing a recharge.

AMP claims that the Sky EV gets 125 miles per gallon equivalent fuel economy based on how much energy it takes to charge the batteries. At current energy prices, this will cost you around 3 cents (US) a mile.

Additionally, because the car is all-electric, it produces zero tailpipe emissions and has many other added side benefits such as no oil changes, no regular tune-ups, no clutch, no transmission fluid and no differential fluid — all of which could add up to significant savings over the life of the vehicle beyond obvious savings on fuel costs.

The rub: AMP electric conversion costs $25,000 on top of the purchase price of your conventional Saturn Sky. Given that the Sky costs about $28,000 for the base model plus a reasonable amount of options, the final price of the conversion will run you about $53,000.

Hooo boy…. At first glance this is definetely not a working man’s electric car. I’ve covered electric car conversion companies before, and the company line is that over the lifespan of the car, the conversion pays for itself.

I’ve always been skeptical of these claims, so I decided to compare the AMP Sky EV to a stock Saturn Sky Red Line on a true cost to own basis. The Sky Red Line is the better performing of the two conventional Sky models (5.5 seconds to 60 mph), and it also happens to have the better fuel mileage (19 city, 28 Hwy).

I wanted to calculate total cost over a period of time to own both vehicles from a “regular Joe’s” perspective. This means that both cars would have a down payment and require a loan for 5 years at 7% interest.

Given that AMP requires a $10,000 deposit and most people put a couple thousand dollars down on the purchase of a new vehicle, I made my calculations assuming a $12,000 down payment on both the conventional Sky and the Sky EV.

I know that $12,000 is stretching it for most people’s budgets, but it’s the only way I could make a fair comparison.

I also assumed 15,000 miles per year driving — 50% highway and 50% city at $4.00 per gallon of gas or 3 cents per mile of electricity. Another assumption: the Sky EV will save you about $150 per year in tune-ups and oil changes over the conventional Sky. My results are summed up in the table below.

Model Purchase Price Yearly Loan Payment Energy $/Yr. Total Cost $/Yr. 5 Yr. Cost to Own 10 Yr. Cost to Own 15 Yr. Cost to Own
Saturn Sky Red Line $32,000 $4,752 $2,573 $7,475 $49,375 $62,238 $75,101
AMP Sky EV $53,000 $9,742 $437 $10,179 $62,895 $65,079 $67,263

The total cost per year for the Red Line includes the $150 in tune ups. The cost to own for both cars includes the $12,000 down payment. After 5 years, the loan is paid off so the only costs from that point forward are service and energy.

As you can see, and solely on a monetary cost to the owner basis, the 5 year cost to own clearly shows that the conventional Sky will save you about $13,500. After 10 years they cost about the same and after 15 years the Sky EV has finally pulled ahead.

So, in reality, It’ll take you about 10 years before the EV premium pays for itself. Obviously if you drive more than 15,000 miles per year, that EV premium will be paid off faster. For instance, if you drive 30,000 miles a year (80 miles a day, 50% highway/50% city) it would take half the time for the EV conversion to pay for itself.

Of course, it’s impossible to put a value on the reduced emissions and foreign fuel usage from driving an electric vehicle; that’s entirely personal. But to an increasing amount of folks, it is truly worth the premium — and AMP is surely banking on this segment of society to turn a profit.

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Image credits: AMP, Saturn

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.