This High School Auto Shop Class Is Converting Old Volkswagens To Electric Vehicles

Photos Courtesy Ron Grosinger

Normally, kids in high school are learning algebra or biology. Shop and hands-on classes are becoming few and far between. But recently, there have been a few schools trying to change that.

A high school shop class at Memorial High School in West New York, New Jersey is taking a different approach when it comes to vehicle maintenance. When Ron Grosinger, or “Mr. G’s”, students wanted to work on a hot rod, he came up with the idea of converting a 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet to electric power, instead. And that was just the beginning. He believes that some high schools still need to adjust attitudes about students who didn’t necessarily see themselves going to college.

In an interview with Hagerty, Grosinger said, “We went on to convert a diesel car to run on vegetable oil and are currently halfway through a scratch-built Lotus 7 that will be electric as well”.

Photos Courtesy Ron Grosinger

Grosinger explained why he went with the electric car option.

“If you’re teaching students about gasoline cars, that’s basically the equivalent of eight-track players,” he said. “With the electric car, I wanted to prove two things. First, that we could convert it. Everyone was telling me at the time that it was impossible when really, we just didn’t have the option yet [on a large scale]. Second, and most importantly, I wanted to prove that kids are super capable. You just have to give them a chance.”

Photos Courtesy Ron Grosinger

Before he started the project with students, Grosinger took a two-week EV conversion course in San Diego. Then, he bought a 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet after getting the go-ahead from the school and went back to show the kids how to convert it to run on electricity only.

Photos Courtesy Ron Grosinger

Grosinger decided to go with a Volkswagen since it’s relatively affordable and parts are accessible. Students got to work right away. They made mechanical parts with cardboard as practice before moving on to wood and then steel. They also learned how to weld and install wiring.

Photos Courtesy Ron Grosinger

And not only did Grosinger’s class take off, but it was a hit with female students. He says his goal is to have one female student for every male student enrolled in his class.