Excerpts from Winona Daily News Article|
(This story has been condensed to reflect only information relating to Mag-Trans Corporation)
By Chris Hubbuch | Winona Daily News -Published May, 2007
An Alma inventor thinks he has a viable alternative to fossil fuel vehicles . . . .
Bob Albertson, 70, believes he can make an affordable electric vehicle, and he wants to retrofit an existing vehicle to prove it can be done.
. . . Albertson will take out the engine and replace it with an electric motor.
The plan is to unveil the electric truck at the Minnesota State Fair this summer.
. . . Albertson points to Tesla Motors, a startup company marketing a battery-powered electric sports car with a 200-mile range and lightning performance. Tesla expects to ship its first cars in 2008, but with an estimated base price of $92,000 don’t expect to see parades of them zipping past the gas pumps.
. . . Albertson say it’s possible to make an electric ranger that sells for under $20,000.
Albertson admits it sounds too good to be true.
But he’s used to doubters. He’s been an inventor since he came up with a one-cup drop-down coffee vending machine when he was 15. He has hundreds of patents for everything from hand-tools to pulsating shower heads.
Among the awkward contraptions in his basement workshop: a sewing-machine motor on the end of a pipe with a length of fishing line attached — the original weed eater.
He says his ideas come in dreams. He “programs” himself to wake up at 3 a.m. to tap into those subconscious ideas. “Sometimes I put a sketch under my pillow,” Albertson said in an interview last summer. “So I dream on it.”
In the early 1980s, Albertson started selling the nation’s first private pay telephones, taking on AT&T’s Northwestern Bell Telephone. In 1984, The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ruled in Albertson’s favor, ordering Northwest Bell to provide service to privately owned pay phones.
“When I told people I was going to take on Bell and sue them, people said ‘You’re nuts.’ I spent $257,000 and broke up AT&T,” Albertson said.
Not all of his inventions found such widespread acceptance. There’s the rubber-tracked aluminum amphibious vehicle — dingy meets snowmobile — parked among the various cars, tractors, boats, golf carts, silver tour bus and fire truck at his Highway 35 home.
In his detached workshop, Albertson might be at work on six or eight projects at a time — from a design to improve a chainsaw muffler to a roof-top wind turbine that he hopes to sell at do-it-yourself home improvement stores.
As for the electric car, Albertson said it will use an electric motor of his design powered by four 40-pound lithium batteries about the size of suitcases. A system of his invention would recharge the batteries by capturing the energy created by road vibrations.
He won’t say who makes the batteries, only that he’s confident that once his car is in production they will cost only about $500 each, keeping the vehicle price tag in the mass-market range.
“If you believe it can be done, it will happen,” Albertson said. “You just have to believe.” . . .
Bob Albertson holds an armature in his workshop Sunday. . . .