With the dramatic increase in fuel prices and the global warming crisis, many people are looking at the option of converting their gas-powered cars to electric. Electric vehicles last longer and although the conversion can be costly, you can save money long-term. As most new electric cars are very expensive, it is not always a viable option for people to go for a brand new vehicle which is why electric conversions are on the rise.
In this article, I’ll talk you through the ins and outs of an EV conversion, what it is, how it works, the cost, and what cars are best suited.
What is an EV Conversion?
Put simply, it is the replacement of the gas-powered combustion engine with an electric motor. Wires replace the pipes and hoses for the combustion engine, the engine, gas tank, exhaust system and transmission (most of the time) is removed and the electric motor, EV battery, and controller is put in its place.
How Does An EV Conversion Work?
It is quite a complicated process but still manageable with the option of getting a kit to make it easier or doing it all yourself if you have a lot of mechanical and electrical experience. Luckily, as more and more people are deciding to make the swap, there are many more examples out there and videos showing the process.
If you decide not to do it yourself, there are also many companies out there who will do the whole process for you.
Here are a few companies:
In terms of kits, there are two types available: universal kits that can be installed in many different vehicles and custom kits which are specific to the vehicle model. Universal kits will come with all of the essential components but would leave the custom parts such as a battery rack or box up to the installer. Custom kits would usually include the whole drive system and battery racks/boxes.
Why Do People Choose EV Conversions?
Aside from the obvious fuel costs, which have just topped $5 per gallon on average, the ongoing maintenance costs are much lower as you do not need to service as many parts such as:
- Oil filters
- Timing Chain
- Engine coolant
- Gearbox/Differential oil
Electric cars are often thought to be more reliable as they have less parts to go wrong and as the majority of the parts are non-moving solid-state electronics, the electric motor should last forever.
When electric vehicles first came out, many critics commented on the lack of range available in cars. As we are now a few years down the line with battery technology developing all the time, this has improved massively.
How Much Does An EV Conversion Cost?
Although this does vary, on the cheaper side EV conversions cost around $6,000 for the parts and approximately $1,000 to $3,000 for the batteries and installation. From there the sky is the limit, with many retrofits being shown to cost the owners around $20,000 or even more.
We have seen many examples of a wide variety of EV conversions. One of the cheaper ones is a kit from French company, Transition One, that costs just €5,000.
What Cars Can Have An EV Conversion?
Technically, all cars can be electrically converted. However, some attributes lend themselves more to a conversion such as a manual transmission and a lighter car, ideally around 2,000-3,000 pounds. If the car is heavier than this, it can still be converted but the range will be restricted. The body will also need to be big enough to hold the batteries.
Many people opt to convert classic vehicles to give them a new lease of life. There are some impressive conversions out there such as a Ford GT40, Land Rover Defender and a personal favourite is this 1966 VW Camper Van.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the easiest car to convert to electric?
Many expert mechanics advise that a light car with enough space for the battery packs is best. The best examples we’ve seen includes a Volkswagen Rabbit, Nissan Sentra, Ford Escort, Honda Civic or a light pick-up truck. Our personal favourite is a Mazda Miata / Mx5.
Can old cars be converted to electric?
Yes, it is possible to convert an old car to electric. However, it must be noted that they must be in perfect condition so they are safe to handle the power and torque of an all-electric powertrain. The engine will need to be removed, as well as a number of other powertrain parts, and the battery, motors, and computer from the EV powertrain has to be installed.
Are electric cars cheap to maintain?
With no combustion engine parts to replace such as oil, belts, or other fluids, electric vehicles are more cost efficient and are easier to maintain. And, thanks to regenerative braking, you’ll spend less on brake pads. You will also spend less on electricity compared to the fuel needed to power an ICE car.
How long does an EV conversion take?
On average, it takes a minimum of three months, although many companies advise six months. You’ll definitely want to have another vehicle at your disposal while the conversion is being completed.
How much does an EV conversion cost?
It can cost around $10,000 in total for the parts, but with so many options available, the sky’s the limit when it comes to EV conversions. We’ve seen some conversions come close to $20,000 and above.