california-based company ITAP converts a 1997 BMW into an electric car with a 38% longer driving range than the tesla model ‘S P100D’ for just a fraction of the cost. dubbed the ‘phoenix’, this BMW ex-junkyard car was stripped completely bare, then fitted with three types of recycled batteries totalling 130 kilowatts of capacity, plus an electric motor. this DIY combination allows the recycled electric vehicle to drive for 382 miles before needing a recharge.

all images © jehu garcia



ITAP founder and CEO, eric lundgren, started with a ‘E39’ generation BMW ‘528i’ he bought from a junkyard. to save weight, he stipped back the entire interior excluding a seat for the driver and passenger. the battery pack is a 130 kW unit that comprises cells from lithium-ion 18650, old laptops, and used electric car batteries. lundgren and his team built the ‘phoenix’ in 35 days for just $13,000. lundgren hopes that if nothing else, ‘the powers that be’ within electronic corporations will notice ITAP’s effort and will feel motivated to start practicing what he calls ‘hybrid-recycling’.



‘re-use is the purest form of recycling. it creates zero carbon footprint. re-using parts/components within broken/obsolete electronics is called “hybrid recycling”. this is a much-needed and often missing part of the recycling ecosystem.’ comments eric lundgren.



in the video he puts the ‘phoenix’ up against the tesla ‘model S 100D’ in a simple test: drive both cars in completely identical conditions and see at which mile each one runs out of power. the tesla died at about 238 miles, while the recycled BMW ran out after covering 382 miles. lundgren didn’t to achieve his initial target of 400 miles, but he still managed build an 88% recycled car that had enough battery power to set a guinness world record for the longest distance ever driven on a single charge at highway speeds.

  • I am not surprised that he was able to beat the World Record and Tesla, He has no passenger seats just a ton of batteries inside the car. It kind of defeats his idea of proving that recycling batteries is a good concept because the car is full to the brim of batteries, although recycling is good, i think powering a tesla P100D on recycled batteries and getting the same results as a New tesla would prove more!

    Alex Clark says:
  • @Mr. Clark – You are minimizing the ITAP car accomplishment. It’s not difficult to imagine that with a little more development and optimization, many ordinary old used cars could be retrofit similarly with normal passenger kit while sacrificing some trunk space, etc. It would appear to open up an entire other market for used vehicles and recycling, which is a much larger idea than beating Tesla’s battery and implementation.

    Michael Jones says:
  • It’s a biased comparison unless the weights of each vehicles are published for comparison.

    It’s rather obvious he stripped down the BMW to the lightest vehicle in the comparison.

    Why wear a hat ?

    John Michaels says:
  • This car was to serve as a Demonstration for “Hybrid Recycling”. We should not Waste our eWaste but rather use the components inside to serve new and useful applications. This car does have a passenger seat and currently weighs 1,000/LBS less than a Tesla Model S. This being said however; we are not attempting to build electric vehicles.. There are thousands of other energy storage applications of which these salvaged, tested-working Li-Batteries can serve to better mankind and we are excited to implement them accordingly around the world as needed! If we can re-use these components in new life-cycles; everybody wins! : )

    Eric Lundgren says:
  • Bravo… I’m tempted to contract you to do my e46 330i ZHP!

    Will M3 says:
  • A most inspiring project. A real pointer for future developments.
    In order to silence the nay sayers I do believe that it would be better to have your car weigh in at a similar weight to current Tesla models. We’re you using standard tyres on your vehicle. I am not sure if Tesla, GM or Nissan use low rolling resistance tyres which ought to improve their efficiency.
    Great too that your vehicle was a “normal”vechicle not a dinky city runabout.
    Keep up the good work

    Des Martin says:
  • Amazing work, I do like to update my Zero motorcycle replacing the batteries pack and increase the range, only 60miles range is not enough for me and I do like to get an idea or inspiration how to do it. Thank you

    Ricardo Menezes says:
  • I have a friend that owns a local computer repair shop. His day job is the head I.P. man for the local cable company. He troubleshoots internet / cable problems in 2 states. The cable company modems use 2 cell L-ion 2,500 Mi ah battery packs in their cable modems. Every time they retrieve a modem from a house, they pop out the used battery and pop in a new one whether it’s needed or not. They recycle the old battery packs. Electronics has been my hobby most of my life and I’m disabled with nothing but time on my hands so he gave me several LARGE boxes of these battery packs to play with. I shucked these like oysters, tested each cell and classified them by level of charge by marking the cell voltage on each one. I build them into 3 cell, 12 volt packs, charge them and test them again under a uniform load. On average, between 75% to 80% are good. The bad cells go to the recycling bin at Lowe’s home improvement. I stack them in a box so to avoid shorting and fire and leave them outside the bin. So far, I have built myself a 125 amp booster jump starter that fits in an old leather bag phone case, replaced the 2 lead acid gel cell batteries in my rechargeable 1 million candle spotlight, (A great weight savings there), built a small 12 volt aux. battery pack for my portable DVD player to plug my car adaptor into that will run it an extra 6 hours and a 192 amp, (not AH), battery pack in a hard plastic case from an OLD video camera. The total of the batteries surround a 750 watt power inverter used for portable emergency power. They won’t power it to full power but if I’m careful it will do what I need it to do long enough. I still have a small box of good cells waiting for another idea to pop into my head. As I said, I have a lot of time on my hands.

    Jeff says:
  • Tesla is just a big money making apparatus. Someone on top said: “I like Tesla, lets make it famous and profitable!” and they did, that’s all ! There is a Porsche 944 EV on YouTube that drag races all the Teslas thrown at it and beats them by very far, I know I’m not comparing range, but yet again another proof that home diy can have way better outcome than any factory made very expensive automobile, and for a lot less! So what, there are no seats and upholstery in the Bimmer.., like 200lbs less, its just a formality, it still cost 7 times less than the P90, and still can travel longer or at least the same distance. The idea can be redeveloped and improved, but the fact still stands that a diy electric car can be just as economical as the one that costs much more!!! A cheap new car costs average of $15K, with all factory electrical it should not cost more than $25K and it should travel as far as 300 miles! Kia Soul EV – $35k and 100mile range, Leaf – $30K and 150 range, Fiat 500e – $33K and 100 range, not a single factory EV is anywhere near $13K and 300mile range.

    K.M. says:
  • You guys did an excellent job, hope it catches on…

    K.M. says:
  • Have 3 mini coopers (2003 6 speed S; 2005 covertbile 5 speed, 2004 6 speed S: interested in suggestions on making at least one of them electric. Thanking you in advance for your kind response.

    Melvin Holmes says:
  • I’d like to see a cost breakdown. With 88% recycled materials by weight, I would think it could be even less expensive than that. Did he pay his team (or himself?) And include wages in his total cost? The other manufacturers have to pay their workers. Very cool project though. Well done.

    John Guppy says:
  • I have a 77 Corvette I’d like to convert to electric power. Just as well do something productive with a smog era beast.

    Wayne G says:

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