EVLN: 27yrold Ballendat converted a BMW into an electric car and worked @Tesla

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EVLN: 27yrold Ballendat converted a BMW into an electric car and worked @Tesla

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'We think about electric vehicles completely wrong'

A 27-year-old who converted a BMW into an electric car and worked for Tesla
is convinced we think about electric cars all wrong
Nov. 13, 2017  Valentina Resetarits

[images   / Business Insider Deutschland
Felix Ballendat in front of his electric BMW

Ballendat designed the 3D printer that's now in the office of his startup

The interior of Ballendat's converted BMW

 - At 22 years old, Felix Ballendat converted a BMW into an electric car in
only two and a half months.
 - He went on to secure an internship at Tesla, where he worked with the
battery division responsible for working on the Model 3.
 - Ballendat, now 27, found inspiration at Tesla for his startup Urmo, which
has developed a prototype for a small electric vehicle that folds up.
 - He thinks that the dominant approach to electric cars is wrong — and that
small electric vehicles are the future.

He never uses the brake because he doesn’t have to.

"In principle, it drives like a bumper car at the fair. You go off the
accelerator and it stops," says Felix Ballendat while sitting behind the
wheel of his BMW Z3.

Ballendat drives what is probably the world's only 1998 BMW Z3 that has
electric drive — because he converted it to an electric car himself. The car
was his wedding car when he got married last year.

Ballendat speaks very fast and determined. The same is true of his ideas: "I
always have wild ideas."

At the age of 27, he had already converted an old BMW into an electric car,
completed an internship at Tesla, and developed his own electric vehicle.
He struggled in high school until he discovered electric motors

Ballendat parks the BMW in front of his office, which the Munich University
of Applied Sciences supplied for his startup. Together with four other
students and employees, he is developing a new electric vehicle called Urmo,
which he intends to produce in series soon.

"I've stayed here on the couch several times before," says Ballendat, as he
enters the room. There are various prototypes of his vehicle. The prizes he
has already won decorate the walls. On the board, he and his colleagues
calculated something using a curve.

For a long time he was not interested in economic figures. He just wanted to
build. He has been fascinated by technology since he was a child.

Ballendat simply did not fit into the German school system. Throughout high
school, he struggled with finding interest in his classes. It was only when
he went to Austria to complete an apprenticeship as a CNC technician that
the school began to interest him.

"I was at an aircraft company and I found the work so exciting that learning
was easy for me." Other apprentices were looking forward to the smoke break.
Even at the age of 16, Ballendet was already interested in electric motors.

In his parents' garage, he set up his own workshop. He completed his
apprenticeship, winning the title of the best apprentice in the state of
Upper Austria. He went back to Germany and decided to catch up with by
enrolling in a vocational school.
In just two and a half months, he built an electric car

It only took Ballendat two and a half months to convert the BMW Z3 into an
electric car in 2012, a time when many people did not even know that cars
can run without petrol or diesel. He bought the used 1998 BMW Z3 for 5,000
euros and designed plans.

"In the beginning, I photographed every part that I have removed. That was a
lot of money for me at the time and I thought, I'll just build it back if it
does not work. At some point there was no going back."

Ballendat had to saw off the side panels to make room for the numerous
batteries. "I'm not a mechanic, so I was really scared to see if the car
would work in the end," says Ballendat.

 - We think about electric vehicles completely wrong.

But that did it. After two and a half months of conversion, he turned the
key and the electric car worked perfectly. With the BMW on a trailer, he
drove to TÜV for Regensburg with his mother. His car needed to be certified.
"Within a few minutes, the entire TÜV crew stood around my car and admired
it. At the time, that was something very unusual".

At the end, Ballendat received approval for his electric car.

The electric vehicle has 200 kilometers of range, which was important to the
builder. Shortly after completing the car, he began studying at the
University of Applied Sciences which meant his new car had to make at least
the 150 kilometers from Simbach to Munich without cargo. Even today he
drives this route still.

Companies started contacting him after he rebuilt the car

When he rebuilt the car five years ago, he probably would not have expected
the consequences. Motorsport magazines soon became aware of him, and an
employee of BMW wanted him as an intern for their development department.

But by then, Ballendat already began to think bigger. In 2014, Tesla may not
have been familiar to many Germans. However, Ballendat has been following
the development of the company since a few years prior when he had seen a
documentary about a German engineer involved in the Tesla Roadster.

He applied for a semester internship in Silicon Valley and got a pledge —
not for the engine department he was most interested in, but for the battery

This circumstance turned out to be a stroke of luck. Ballendat was given the
opportunity to work in the team that was the first to deal with the Model 3
— at a time when the Model X wasn't even completed.

He took an internship at Tesla and got his big idea

He met Elon Musk several times.

"However, Musk did not see Tesla that often. He's more of a visionary and
more present with his other baby, SpaceX," says Ballendat soberly.

In Palo Alto, the idea for his own electric vehicle was born.

[urmo prototype]

"It came to me then the realization that we think about electric vehicles
completely wrong. Actually, you can not take a car and pack batteries in
—that is a pure battery grave. It works, but it is not efficient. You have
to build something much smaller and more compact to get the most out of your
battery. " ...
[© 2017 Business Insider]

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