By Doris Rubenstein, American Jewish World · March 17, 2011
Until the current democratic uprisings in the Middle East started a few weeks ago, spiking the cost of gas dramatically, investing another $5,000 in your hybrid to boost its already high mileage seemed like an extravagance. Now it’s the smart way to go.
Minneapolis entrepreneur Shayna Berkowitz knew years ago that “hippie-dippie” was really an outdated term for today’s progressive “green technology.” After working for various nonprofits involved in environmental work, she decided to take the future into her own hands and start a new company, ReGo Electric Conversions.
But for Berkowitz, a member of Shir Tikvah Congregation, being environmentally responsible isn’t enough. Through the end of March 2011, ReGo will donate $200 to one of its environmental sustainability partner organizations for each paying customer who uses the company’s service and mentions this article in the Jewish World.
What does ReGo actually do?
Using the company’s proprietary technology, ReGo can convert an existing hybrid vehicle into a next-generation plug-in hybrid electric. A typical Prius hybrid owner will see mileage increase to 60-85 mpg – a 40-100 percent increase. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle can displace 150 gallons of imported gas each year with potentially local renewable energy. The green technology also saves a ton of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
And as a local company, ReGo has designed these systems to work in Minnesota’s cold climate.
So how did a nice Jewish girl from Minneapolis turn into the John DeLorean of green vehicles?
“I’ve always been a strong environmentalist,” she admits. “I’m committed to moving away from foreign oil.”
But Berkowitz is not a scientist or engineer. Her first step, in 2005, was to bring in Alex Danovitch as her partner and co-owner. They located people with technical expertise. With their own funds and a small group of investors, the dream evolved and the technology developed until they finally launched ReGo Electric Conversions last year.
Berkowitz says that “the market is ready now for plug-in hybrid electric cars” but her goal is to be able to continue developing the technology so that eventually they can convert cars to be 100 percent electric.
She points out that “President Obama’s State of the Union address highlighted electric vehicle technology.” Underscoring the U.S. government’s commitment to this technology, the conversion is eligible for a 10 percent federal tax credit.
ReGo’s technology may be new, but since the company’s launch last year, they have done some 25 conversions, all on Priuses. And ReGo has acquired new technology for converting Toyota Highlander, Ford Fusion and Ford Escape hybrids to plug-in hybrid electrics. Conversions take two days, don’t take up any cargo space, and come with a two-year warranty on all parts and labor.
And no mikva is required for the car being converted.
One of ReGo’s satisfied customers is Rebecca Lundberg, herself an owner of a “green” company, Powerfully Green, in Champlin, an installation company for solar panels.
“We’re getting about 30 extra miles per charge on the electric drive of our car,” Lundberg reports. “Due to the nature of our business at Powerfully Green, we can only charge the battery once daily, so we use some gas. Since our building uses solar energy, if we only used that outlet for power, the car would essentially be running on solar power!”
Berkowitz agrees. “Electric vehicles and solar recharging are as sustainable as it gets with vehicles today.”
For information on ReGo Electric Conversions, call 612-822-1626 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2011 American Jewish World