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Franklin woman converting 1999 Jeep Wrangler into electric vehicle by hand

"I want to drive the adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy," Dr. Veronika wright said.
Posted at 4:06 PM, Aug 15, 2022

FRANKLIN, Wis. — In an attempt to promote renewable energy and women scientists, a Franklin woman is replacing her car's combustion engine with an electric one.

Dr. Veronika Wright has gutted her 1999 Jeep Wrangler and is turning it into an all electric vehicle. This is a big task. She has to re-do all the car's electrical wiring and brakes on top of installing a totally different type of engine and batteries.

"I want to drive the adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy, and this is one of the projects that I want to show to the world how this would be possible," she said.

Veronika Wright
Dr. Wright has to re-do all the wirings of the car in order to re-install the new engine.

Dr. Wright is originally from Austria but moved to Wisconsin in 2020 with her husband. She has a PhD in Technical Physics from Technische Universität Graz in Austria. She chose a 1999 Jeep Wrangler because it was the car driven in her favorite TV show of all time, Gilmore Girls.

She believes that right now is the most important time to educate people on the power of renewable energy. As temperatures rise and resources continue to be depleted, alternatives are necessary.

"Now, we have this opportunity to change this industry and build the circular economy."

The circular economy is one that generates less waste by re-using products rather than wasting them. In the context of cars, a circular economy means re-using old batteries or re-purposing batteries. Dr. Wright, an expert in lithium-ion batteries, said that while we think batteries are 'dead' they actually still have the ability to hold 70 to 80 percent of their original charge. Instead of those "dead" batteries going into the trash, they can be used as car batteries.

Veronika Wright
Dr. Wright has gutted the car. The empty space in the picture is where the engine was originally. She will replace the old combustion engine with a smaller electric one.

Plus, driving uses oil. When that oil is burned, it's gone forever. Conversely, when a battery is "dead", it can be re-purposed.

"We can not contribute more waste, and we can stop mining new materials," she said about the benefit of electric vehicles.

Beyond environmental conservation, Dr. Wright hopes to inspire more women to pursue STEM fields. Along with her expertise in physics and batteries, she has essentially become a mechanic while working on her Jeep. Everything has to be deconstructed before it can be reconstructed. It's overwhelming, but she feels good being a role model to women who might feel left out because they don't see people that look like them in those types of fields.

Veronika Wright
Dr. Wright hopes to promote renewable energy within the automotive industry and encourage more women to enter STEM fields.

"But you don’t see lots of women doing things like this, so you can’t imagine that you could do something like that I guess," she said.

Dr. Wright is documenting her entire journey on social media and YouTube. She goes by the name Electrified Veronika. It's not about money or monetizing her content, although she said that would be nice. It's her tool to broadcast to the masses about electric vehicles and their potential.

"My business model is sharing ideas and letting others learn and do the same."

She expects the car to be road-ready by November 2022, and she will take it off-roading in the Spring of 2023.

In the future, she would like to open what she calls the circularity center.

"That’s an innovation center where we are doing research as well as prototyping around the topic of batteries and electric vehicles and renewable energy," she said.

It's all in an effort to promote sustainability.

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