We have seen and featured some amazing EV conversions recently, and the number of people choosing to go down this route is on the rise. We’ve gone through the cost of electrically converting a gas-powered vehicle, but now we’ve put together what you need to consider before starting the project and what potential issues you should be aware of.
10. Should I hire an EV Conversion company or DIY it?
This will depend on many factors, including your level of experience working on cars, the time you have available, and the budget you are working with.
Doing it yourself will obviously be the cheaper option and can sometimes be easy with EV conversion kits available for a number of makes and models, as well as kits you can drop in most cars with a bit of custom work. Some of the best conversion kits we have seen have been done on this Land Rover Defender and this Fiat 500.
On the other hand, asking a professional to do the work will save you a lot of time but be prepared for a much larger bill in the end. There are now many more EV conversion companies available to you, so it’s much easier to compare the services that they offer and the prices. It’s also worth remembering that you get what you pay for!
Again, we have seen some incredible EV Conversions from companies. EV West has done this VW Campervan, EV Classic has recently worked on a Lamborghini Gallardo and Charge has created an electric Ford Mustang.
If you already have a specific car in mind, this could massively sway your decision here as some cars have been proven to be easier to convert than others.
9. What type of vehicle is best for an EV conversion?
The main deciding factor here is probably if it’s already sitting on your driveway or not. One of the main considerations when electrically converting a car is the weight. The heavier the car, the more powerful the motor will need to be and the more powerful the motor(s), the more expensive it is likely to be.
Another thing to consider is the space available. There will need to be space for the motor(s) and battery packs. If the car has additional things to power, such as air conditioning, power steering, electric seats, etc, then you will most likely need an additional 12v battery. We have previously gone through the components of these batteries and the different options available.
Many say the most ideal cars for an EV conversion are Volkswagen Rabbit, Nissan Sentra, Ford Escort, Honda Civic, or a light pick-up truck.
8. How to get an ideal range from an EV conversion?
When electric vehicles first hit the scene, range was a massive talking point. Lots of critics used the lack of range and ‘range anxiety’ as their main argument against electric cars. However, as technology has advanced over the years, the range on electric vehicles has improved massively. According to Heycar, a “typical” electric car has a range of between 100-200 miles. But a more premium electric vehicle will give you a solid 300-mile range.
The further you want your range to be, the more batteries you will need. Batteries can be the most expensive part of an electric vehicle, and the more you have, the more space you need. So, you need to weigh up what the ideal range would be for you. This can all depend on how far you usually travel and/or commute, and also how much of the car’s performance you’ll be needing on a day-to-day basis.
7. Economy: sport or luxury?
This links back to what you want to get out of your car, if you already own the car, and also your budget. If you are looking for an everyday run-around car, you are most likely going to go for the economy option.
Tesla gives us an easy comparison. The Model S Plaid has an incredible 0-60 time of 1.99 seconds and needs about 1,020 horsepower to get that level of performance. If you are wanting to match that level of performance, you are going to need to plan that into your budget.
One Rolls Royce owner went for luxury, but it cost him a lot more than he thought it would. Make sure to know what you are taking on before you start and have a clear goal in mind.
6. Is regenerative braking important?
Regenerative braking takes the kinetic energy from braking and converts it into electrical power that charges the car’s battery. If you opt for regenerative braking, you can expect to achieve a higher range from your EV conversion and also preserves the brake pads compared to an ICE car. Some reports have shown that regenerative braking can add at least 10% on to the range.
In order to incorporate this into your conversion project, you will need an AC or brushless DC motor, which are more expensive than the average motor. It will also need a more sophisticated battery and motor control system, which all adds up.
It is best to decide on this when you are planning your project as it can be difficult to add this at a later stage.
5. Battery management systems
Battery management systems (BMS) manage rechargeable batteries, monitor their state of charge, balance the charging and discharging of cells, and control their environment. Balanced batteries ensure that the cell with the biggest capacity will be filled so a weaker battery isn’t overcharged. Lithium-ion batteries usually require “smart” BMS, which can cost thousands more than the basic BMS. If you opt for “smart” BMS in your conversion, you will also need a “smart” charger.
Your charging requirements will determine the time of charger you will need to go for. If you have a smaller battery of around 17 kWh, a standard 2.5 kW charger will charge it in approximately 6 hours and these are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. If you have a 22 kWh battery and want it charged in a couple of hours, you will most likely be looking at a 22 kW AC charger which is much more expensive. Generally speaking, the more expensive you go for the faster it will charge.
3. Check for other examples of EV conversions on the same vehicle
There are some common choices for EV conversions, such as a classic VW Beetle or classic Mini. So, do your research, look into what other people have done on the same make and model, and learn from any mistakes they made during the process.
If you decide to go for a commonly chosen vehicle, then the likelihood of the main components, such as the motor brackets and wiring harnesses, being readily available and cheaper is high.
2. Can you upgrade an old EV?
Although this isn’t technically an EV conversion, it is still a popular choice. Some also buy old EVs and use them for parts for their EV conversion to save money.
Companies such as Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault started producing electric vehicles from the ’90s. When EVs were first made, there wasn’t the technology that we have today, so they didn’t last as long. These old cars can now be bought quite cheaply and can be easily upgraded by changing the lead-acid or nickel-cadmium battery for a lithium-ion one. You would also have to upgrade the charging system but once it is finished you would have a car that is lighter and more powerful than when it was first released.
This is obviously an easier option than converting a gas-powered car as the car was originally made to be electric so you do not need to find space for all of the components.
1. Always shop around for bargains
We hear a lot about people using parts from old electric cars from scrap yards. It may take some extra time and effort but can be very budget-friendly. Many Tesla write-offs have unfortunately been reported and these cars have got to end up somewhere. In fact, lots of people choose Tesla parts for their EV conversions. We have seen some great Tesla-swapped vehicles such as this 1970s BMW E9 Coupe and this Honda S2000.
Be aware that second-hand batteries like this are extremely unlikely to have any warranty with them but if it saves a lot in the budget then they can be a great option to go for.