Turning old Porsches into electric cars

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Former college roommates quit their corporate jobs to steer classic vehicles toward a greener future.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Martine Prouty and Kyle Palmer, with their company, The Current Exchange, electrify a 1989 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. They were photographed in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Kyle Palmer and Martine Prouty are new to classic car upgrades.

After years in the corporate world, the former college roommates have decided to embark on a new career and, at 42, the duo are fulfilling a long-held goal of working together.

“The pandemic hit,” Palmer said, “and even though we both still had positions, we just kind of reassessed what we wanted to do.”

During a weekend of snowboarding in Brighton last year, they made their new business idea a reality: find old Porsches, rip out their gas-guzzling guts, and replace them with new batteries and salvaged Tesla electric motors.

Now the two behind The Current Exchange work alongside their shop dog, Marley, in an old boiler room at 1159 S. Richards St. in the Ballpark neighborhood, converting their first car, a white 1989 Porsche 911 Cabriolet, into a fully electric. vehicle.

Palmer and Prouty hope that 35- to 60-year-olds with money to spend — think six figures — will seize the opportunity to own an electrified classic.

“It’s about updating it,” Prouty said, “keeping that retro vibe, but making it modern.”

How much would an electric Porsche cost?

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A battery level gauge in a 1989 Porsche 911 Convertible in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Martine Prouty and Kyle Palmer and their company, The Current Exchange, are electrifying the car.

Owning an electrified classic car is easier than traditionally revamped classics with combustion engines, he said, because they are more reliable. Plug it in, perform basic maintenance every 50,000 miles, and owners are good to go in their weekend cruisers.

The batteries The Current Exchange is getting from a supplier in Georgia will give drivers a range of about 150 miles, but flooring the throttle and blasting the air conditioning will cut that number.

As well as being able to skip the gas pump, revived Porsches will gain speed, torque and some 21st century creature comforts like a Bluetooth-enabled radio, so drivers can connect their phones wirelessly.

And when battery technology improves, Palmer said, owners can swap out their old packs for new ones.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A charging connection on a 1989 Porsche 911 Cabriolet in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Martine Prouty and Kyle Palmer and their company, The Current Exchange, are electrifying the car.

Besides a $100,000 loan the startup is seeking from Salt Lake City, The Current Exchange is self-funded by Palmer and Prouty. They plan to use the loan, which has yet to be approved by the city council, to purchase inventory.

And that inventory can be expensive. The car they are currently working on, for example, cost north of $60,000. Electric conversion kits add another $50,000.

When completed, The Current Exchange’s first car — which already has several potential buyers — will cost around $150,000.

The will to expand

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) An LED headlight on a 1989 Porsche 911 Cabriolet in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Martine Prouty and Kyle Palmer and their company, The Current Exchange, are electrifying the car.

Prouty hopes to continue to develop the product, hire locally and be part of the revitalization of the Ballpark area.

The company plans to stick to specializing in modernizing Porsches, for now, but plans to expand into converting other classic models in the coming years.

Over the next three years, Prouty said, The Current Exchange wants to add an SUV to its lineup, hire at least two technicians and bring in an in-house design engineer instead of a consultant.

Eventually, the company aims to increase production to one conversion per month.

Palmer and Prouty landed on electric vehicle conversions because they see a future in the business, which they say is still in its first wave in the United States.

They have always been car enthusiasts, but did not study automotive engineering when they attended Arizona State University together. Palmer, who has some experience in the automotive industry, took classes at Weber State University last year to prepare for a new career in electric vehicles.

At first, Palmer said, the two worried about pushback from Porsche purists. But the response has been positive, they said, and they even have Porsche enthusiasts on a waiting list for more information on getting a converted car.

The business of The Current Exchange is, after all, a continuation of something car junkies have been doing for decades.

“It’s hot-rodding,” Palmer said. “It’s about taking a small car and putting a bigger engine in it. It’s just an electric motor instead of a big V-8 engine.

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