Dawsonville-based auto company makes electric vehicle components

“But then, a few months later, we realized we could make a great drum set, but what are they going to do with it?” Fabiani said. “They need the rest of that stuff.”

After a meeting, the team decided it was “all or nothing”.

Earlier this month, Ampere EV opened orders for one of its products called an electrical junction box. They plan to open ordering of their plug-and-play or full atomic drive powertrain system in June.

Sumner shared that there is a nationwide community of people who convert cars. Last November, Ampere EV attended the Specialty Equipment Market Association or SEMA’s premier annual show in Las Vegas, where co-owners spoke to thousands of people in a matter of days.

Many people they spoke to said they wanted to convert their or their customers’ cars to electric, but lacked the skills or knowledge to choose the right components.

“A lot of people want to convert a vehicle after they’ve already purchased an electric car,” Sumner said. “They really like the way these cars drive after spending a lot of time in them and driving every day. They’re starting to want their project car or their fun car to be electric as well.

Since no one else was really taking the kind of approach Ampere EV wanted to take, that’s what motivated the company to pursue the initiative.

While Sumner said there are companies that help get parts or do conversions and he’s generally interested in partnering with some of them, he called the approach and design a Ampere EV of “very unique”.

“There are a lot of entrants into electric vehicles, but right now we’re on the cutting edge,” he added.

“Georgia is pushing really big for the automotive space, and the EV space is where the automotive is going, so there’s a big focus on bringing those companies into Georgia.”

Ampere EV’s plug-and-play electric conversion kit will include batteries, motors, and other necessary items. The kit’s components can be mounted in any standard vehicle, whether it’s an old Mustang or Chevy pickup truck, Sumner said.

Because the battery is divided into three modules, they can be placed in a vehicle’s front, rear or interior spaces, Sumner said.

Fabiani emphasized safety as a “big goal” of their company, pointing to the cooling system and tablet-friendly interfaces that are part of every kit. Each kit also takes into account non-contact connections to prevent people from touching potentially dangerous voltage. Batteries not plugged in and turned on by a controller will produce no voltage, he said.

“We know that some of our customers may not be EV experts, and that’s okay. We don’t want them to have to be,” he said.

Sumner reiterated the company’s rapid progress, with Fabiani adding their move towards providing a complete electric powertrain system, with just him and the other co-founders for much of that expansion.

Ampere EV aspires to national reach and eventually an international market. Of the 10 power kits in their inventory, only one is unreserved, and Sumner said they are already trying to order enough to build 25 more.

They’re going to mix everything they can do, but the challenge is “to do everything fast enough,” Fabiani said.

Ampere EV sources parts from multiple countries, as some of the kit components are not made in the USA. However, they will sell their products made and assembled in the United States with global components, “much like a small automaker,” he added.

As the workload increased, they hired six additional employees for a total of nine workers, including themselves, in the company. Most of these people have been hired within the past two months, such as COO and Matt White’s brother, Mike White.

There are also several cooperative college students. Prior to taking on this role, Sumner himself had already participated in a three-year, five-rotation engineering co-op through Georgia Tech.

He cited his high opinion of pro-level internships and ties to his alma mater when talking about Ampere EV interns.

“I know a lot of students looking for opportunities, and the electrical space is of interest to a lot of students,” Sumner said. “Companies are hiring for a lot of EV positions, so there’s a lot of excitement in the space.”

He added that several schools like his alma mater are now integrating skills in engineering and other fields into their curricula, which is making a difference.

“Especially for interns, when you can give them projects that they’re passionate about, they can produce really good results,” Sumner added, noting that an intern designed the dashboard tablet.

Sumner said co-ops provide great opportunities for these students while also helping Ampere EV. He explained that in terms of skills, there is “a lot of automotive knowledge in the [Dawson] area, and it’s amazing.

Dawson native Kenny Aaron works with Ampere EV. Previously, Aaron worked as an auto mechanic for 12 years and he also met the co-owners at racing events at AMP.

He said he didn’t think he would work with the company at first and that has happened organically over the past year.

After meeting Matt White and Sumner, Aaron helped them convert another car, the DeLorean, to the AMP circuit last August and September. They liked Aaron so much that they convinced him to come work for Ampere EV.

Now the DeLorean exists as a particularly neat example of an electric conversion.

“We started with, ‘What’s an awesome car that would be made better electric?'” Sumner said. “One of the first things that came to mind was a DeLorean.”

Even though “Back to the Future” paints an idealistic picture of the car, the model actually tends to be slow and unreliable, especially when it comes to the engine.

However, they are committed to repurchasing the old 1980s car and showcasing its very iconic futuristic appearance, Sumner said.

So now the car sports “Ampere EV” on its scissor-style car doors, and acceleration is a bit smoother and quieter than before.

He joked that now people in Dawsonville “might see more DeLoreans than the rest of the country.”

About Tracy G. Larimore

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