Friday, October 9, 2020

Change Your Life: Electric Car Conversion

Is it possible to convert a gasoline-powered car into an electric car? Yes, it is. In fact, most of the cars on the road today that are powered by electricity are not new, from-the-factory cars but are the product of electric car conversion.

People have changed their gas-guzzling cars to electric power for a variety of reasons. But the major factors that lead to the change are high gasoline prices and concern for the environment. It's probably a good idea if you want to save money on fuel costs and want to reduce the amount of pollution we put into the air.

But what if you aren't a mechanical genius?

To Do or Not to Do

While it would probably be best to enlist the help of a mechanic or someone who is experienced in electric car conversion, it may be possible for you to do the job yourself. Of course, you will need some good instructions, the right parts and a car that might be out of service for awhile. In fact, it will be best to use a vehicle that isn't necessary for your everyday transportation.

One piece of good news before we get into the details: You do not have to build your car on an experimental basis or come up with a unique design!

There are a number of electric car conversion patterns and plans out there. You may be able to buy one from a person who has fine-tuned the process and eliminated some of the problems for you. If you do a little research online and ask around among the folks in your community who "tinker" with cars they may know of someone who has done this already.

Keep a couple of key factors in mind as you consider starting an electric car project. While you may be able to produce a usable vehicle by building on what others have done in the past, you should be prepared to search for and buy parts in the future. This is essential if you plan to use the car for a long period of time.

Of course, we're talking about the actual electric motor, controller and specific drive items for the electric system. Many other normal parts (brakes, tires etc.) can be obtained from dozens of sources. The primary items that will need attention and replacement are the electric car batteries. Be sure you have a reliable and not-too-expensive source!

Photo by Athlex

A Basic Plan

Good choices include:

  • golf cart batteries

  • marine batteries (deep cycle)

  • other high-output batteries

Here are the high points of changing a car from gasoline power to electric power:

  • You will remove the engine, gas tank and other items that are specific to an internal combustion engine. 

  • The electric motor requires an adapter plate to connect to the transmission. Your reduction gear can be the first or second gear of the car’s manual transmission.

  • Mount the DC controller and secure the batteries in brackets or a stable frame.

  • Use #00 welding cable to connect batteries and motor to controller.

  • You will need a charging connection and a volt meter to monitor the batteries. Use a relay to connect and disconnect the batteries from the controller. 

There is much, much more to the project than this but these are the key components. Be sure to follow a more detailed plan when you actually convert your car.

A good quality conversion of this type will cost several thousand dollars. Some estimates go as high as $10,000. However, regular use of an electric car can save enough over a period of time to cut the cost quite a bit.

Professional Help

If the combination of expensive fuel and air pollution are enough of a problem, you may feel that investing in an electric car conversion is worth the time and money. You may even consider calling in the pros to make the change for you. Fortunately, there are several companies that specialize in this field.

Take a close look at the details about these businesses and consider the location of each. Remember that you will have to include travel/shipping expense in your figures. In addition, some companies sell conversion parts and kits and it's up to you to get a mechanic to perform the work. Others offer a start-to-finish plan that will deliver your converted vehicle to you.

  • Alaniz Technologies - Texas: Several conversion options for a variety of car brands

  • Ampmobile Conversions - South Carolina: Also provides education and workshops

  • Clean Ride Electric Vehicles - Minnesota: Specializes in VW conversions

  • Electric Vehicles USA - South Carolina: Kits, parts and complete conversions

  • EV-Blue/Electric Blue - Kansas: Complete conversions for $11,000 and up

  • EV Source - Utah: Kits, parts and conversions

This is only part of the list of companies that now offer conversions, specialized components and replacement parts. A few minutes of searching online or in the library should turn up dozens of companies around the world that can help you convert your gasoline-powered car to electric power.

Some Real Interesting Stuff!

Here are the answers to a few questions that seem to come up in all the forums and online chats about electric car conversion:

  • You can use solar panel sources to charge your electric car. In fact, some manufacturers include on-board solar panels for this purpose.

  • Windmills will often supply enough power to charge your electric vehicle.

  • Alternators on board your electric car will generally not provide enough power to charge the batteries. The basic rule is - the motor provides energy to move the vehicle or to charge the batteries but not both at the same time.

  • Regenerative braking (natural drag in the electric system) helps slow the car down. This is generally not a consistent source for charging batteries.

In general terms, electric car conversion is a technology that has arrived. Start your electric journey today!

Further information on conversions

Electric Car Conversion Kit
When it's time to make the change from a traditional, gasoline-powered vehicle to an electric vehicle, the electric car conversion kit might be your best bet. But it would be wise to do a little homework first because there are a lot of options. You should also give some serious thought to the cost and your return on investment.

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