Well, a team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology did precisely that to demonstrate advanced electric-vehicle technology.

The project should also yield information on advanced batteries. Specifically, the team from MIT's Electrochemical Energy Laboratory plan to measure the conditions batteries encounter inside an operating vehicle.

The student project took off a year ago when Valence Technology Inc. agreed to donate 18 high-tech rechargeable batteries and a battery-management system. The lithiumphosphate rechargeable batteries are lighter, longer lasting, and fast charging.

The students replaced the original engine with an electric motor, 12 batteries and battery-management system, various electronics, and a controller. The team estimates the car will produce 50 to 60 hp, giving it a top speed of 70 to 100 mph. Plugging it into a wall socket should fully recharge the batteries in 4 to 5 hr, and the car should go 100 miles or more before recharging.