July '16

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58 THE SHOP JULY 2016 TECHNOLOGY & ELECTRONICS n Southern California, where car culture is as robust and dynamic as ever, EV West is a shop that is ahead of the curve. The San Marcos business is owned and run by Michael Bream, who believes what was perceived widely as a fledgling electric vehicle industry just a few years ago is now poised to become the new normal. "It's explosive right now; we've never seen anything like this," says Bream. "This year alone we're up over 800 percent over last year's numbers and it shows no sign of slowing down." Suddenly, he says, Hollywood celebri- ties and other "VIP clients" are popping in from all over the world and they're not afraid to spend six figures for a custom hot rod. CLASSIC POTENTIAL "We're car guys," says Bream, who, like the rest of the shop's technicians, comes from a regular car background. "We started the company in 2010 while racing BMWs in an amateur series." Those were all traditional gas-powered cars, but Bream says he wanted something that was more challenging. "I have always been intrigued with electric cars, so we decided to build an all-electric E36 to race in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race. We set a record our first year up the mountain. That really turned me on to the potential here." After the initial success in Colorado, Bream says the shop functioned for a couple of years as a workspace for additional projects including another electric racecar and an electric shop truck for running errands. "The shop has grown recently and we have quadrupled our space to make room for customer projects," Bream says. "We now focus on using customer cars as engi- neering models to design and build electric drive line parts for our customer base. The shop was basically influenced by the need for EV drivetrain parts that don't currently exist on the market." In many ways the EV West shop looks and feels similar to most custom automo- tive shops. It occupies about 7,000 square feet, divided into a work area with room for six vehicles, an office area, and a car storage and inventory space. Inside are many of the same pieces of equipment and shop tools (welders, mill, press, hand tools, etc.) found in most custom automotive shops. Staff-wise, it's pretty typical as well: two people run the front office, a couple of technicians work on converting cars to EV and a couple of guys work on filling orders and keeping inventory for self-installers. "We also always have a couple of interns on hand that are learning the EV trade," Bream says. Additionally, Bream works with a few local shops that provide restoration, paint, interior, alignment, suspension and other related services. But other signs indicate that this shop is a little different, because only all-electric EVs (not even hybrid or range-extending systems) are in the mix. That means there are a few pieces of specialized equipment Bream says were developed to work with the EV drive lines and battery systems that ELECTRIC HORSEMEN EV West sees battery-powered cars becoming the new normal. By Eddie Wieber Michael Bream, with the EV West shop truck: "We're just pure horsepower guys ..."

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