DIY Electric Car Forums banner

anybody making a living with conversions?

29258 Views 38 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Ziggythewiz
I'd really like to know if anyone has been able to make any kind of a living with conversions and/or conversion services.... I've seen some posted, some decent sites offering services/turnkey, but not been able to tell if there is a business model that is working.

I am taking a stab at marketing in my home town, and had lots of interest, but no BUYERS of either completed vehicle(s) or conversion services.

I've noticed a number of conversions for sale in the classifieds here, but none selling anywhere near retail price + labor regardless of quality. I'd love to know whether anyone has been able to make successful sales?! on a regular basis?!
21 - 39 of 39 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
I send e-mails before the car/truck/machine come to me, The mail states that I only guaranty the conversion, and only what the state of Kansas allows me on labor, 90 days, the other "bought " components are covered by manufactures warranties . I have them resign the e-mail, agreeing to this and have them send it back.
1. if I see a problem with ,brakes,axle seals, any trans leaks, suapension, I call them, tell them about it. If they done want me to fix it, I state that in their final billing that they refuses to have ME fix it... leaves me off the hook .
2. If I see springs wont carry the batteries, I tell them, same thing. They ALWAYS want the new springs
3. I use both LiOn-P4 and L/A . most people cant afford LiOn batts
4. when the truck/car/machine is done they come here, we spend all day going over their vehicle, and I have them, after they drive it, sign their billing, ..they get a copy I keep a copy.
5. I tell them and show them a book I write with photos showing everything I have done, trouble shooting and repair, what is their responsibility ,where mine ends.
6. I have them sign a Doc, stating." After the vehicle leaves the builders shop, He is no longer responsible for the batteries"...and I tell them why ..I dont know if there going to keep them clean, fully charged, terminals tight , LiOn comes with a BMS. I show them how it works and repairs if needed
7. I always keep in contact, send photos of every step, let them know Im working for them, it makes them feel better
8. I make a full wiring diagram and put that in the "service book" I make up.
It even shows how to test controllers

Hope this helps.... Its a small Niche area, we have to exchange info and make the system work for all of us ..and beat the car manufactures at their own game
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #23 ·
keep the thoughts and comments coming guys. ;)

I have not had any serious bites to buy either my Swift or Miata at retail price despite offer to finance/Lease. I've only advertised in local paper and craigslist so far because I want to build LOCAL business.

Next plan is to offer Lectures at local schools for science show.n.tell and perhaps evening Lectures to adults either at the local Community College, or a private venue just to give an 'intro to living with an Electric Car'.

I keep talking to people that are ALMOST ready, but not quite. Perhaps gasoline needs to hit $4/gallon first.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,458 Posts
I didn't get any bites from my CL ad. I've also not had any active interest in the EV & Hybrid Meetup scheduled in a couple weeks. People said they're coming, but no one has expressed any active interest in participating. I'm going to try to ramp up the promotion in the last week before it, and see if I can spur some interest - and keep that fresh in their minds. I was hoping to start to develop a self-sustaining community here and see if something more can develop from that.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I didn't get any bites from my CL ad. I've also not had any active interest in the EV & Hybrid Meetup scheduled in a couple weeks. People said they're coming, but no one has expressed any active interest in participating. I'm going to try to ramp up the promotion in the last week before it, and see if I can spur some interest - and keep that fresh in their minds. I was hoping to start to develop a self-sustaining community here and see if something more can develop from that.
yeah.... I've had lots of very interesting conversations outside hardware stores and at my health club, lots of interest, but no contracts yet. We have a local enviro weekly paper in NM called the GreenFire Times that I am going to have a feature article in; perhaps that will spark a little interest. (joke)
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,050 Posts
As it stands today, Im earning money from electric conversions, not much though it should get better.
Working on an EcoQuad bike and Id rather do that than sit in an office pushin a mouse around.

But Ive always had this concept of doing a TV show like Amp My Ride.
Instead of chrome wheels, monitors and painted flames there would be a slightly more scientific air where the math gets done, parts gets fabricated and designed real time and fitted and theres the big moment where it turns its first wheel under electrons.
Now thats where there would be money...TV shows
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
As it stands today, Im earning money from electric conversions, not much though it should get better.

But Ive always had this concept of doing a TV show like Amp My Ride.

Now thats where there would be money...TV shows
we could ask Jack how he does with EVTV ?! I think he might make *some*, but more from parts sales ?

I have yet to sell a conversion at a retail rate. Made a little with Lectures/Consulting, but not enough for a living.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,458 Posts
...But Ive always had this concept of doing a TV show like Amp My Ride.
Instead of chrome wheels, monitors and painted flames there would be a slightly more scientific air where the math gets done, parts gets fabricated and designed real time and fitted and theres the big moment where it turns its first wheel under electrons.
Now thats where there would be money...TV shows
we could ask Jack how he does with EVTV ?! I think he might make *some*, but more from parts sales ?...
I don't know what the TV market is like in other countries, but the challenge in the U.S. is that the demographic that tunes in has little interest in the technical aspect. They are there to see the drama - the race against the clock and/or the infighting. I seriously considered angling that way when I closed my shop and moved to Columbus, and had a leg into it when we started filming the documentary for the Inhaler (with a professional video company), but the reality of becoming more entertainer than designer/developer bothered/still bothers me.

The viewing audience of people who really care about what's happening with the actual vehicles has never been enough to make the shows commercially viable, or even heavily influence the slant the producers put on the show.

YouTube presents the opportunity to roll your own, but you still have to sell advertising, which means you have to find a way to draw the numbers (in viewers). It's a fun idea to experiment with though.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,050 Posts
I don't know what the TV market is like in other countries, but the challenge in the U.S. is that the demographic that tunes in has little interest in the technical aspect. They are there to see the drama - the race against the clock and/or the infighting. I seriously considered angling that way when I closed my shop and moved to Columbus, and had a leg into it when we started filming the documentary for the Inhaler (with a professional video company), but the reality of becoming more entertainer than designer/developer bothered/still bothers me.
I know what you mean...theres no way I could compete with Diggity Dave. :confused:




The viewing audience of people who really care about what's happening with the actual vehicles has never been enough to make the shows commercially viable, or even heavily influence the slant the producers put on the show.
I really believe there is a "GEEK" demographic, I mean why are there so many engineering shows like Mighty Ships and Archeology shows like Time Team
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,458 Posts
I want to start one such service. Where can I get good workmen for this kind of work?
the first step would be to build one yourself, then try to sell it to see if you have a local market. Good Luck
Yup. Asking a question like that leads to the assumption that you have no or little experience in automotive service. I say that because automotive service techs are a dime a dozen - there's usually a high turnover rate, and lots of them floating around, looking for new or better work. You might want to get a job or intern or volunteer with a service shop to get a feel for the industry. It's a tough business, and this is a really small niche to try to carve a slice out of. Even if you build a nice EV, and people are knocking your door down to get one built, you still have to make a successful business case out of it, to hire a crew and open the doors.

Honestly, the best course is follow dtbaker's advice and build one, then another, and another - as a profitable hobby, and let demand guide you from there.


Funny that this thread resurfaces today. I just moved all of my stuff out of the community workshop and into storage. Now comes the process of answering the "what now?" question. I'm looking at Scrape and The Inhaler, in the storage unit, and in pics on my laptop, thinking about whether there is any viable business case with them, and electric propulsion, at the core. That is the million dollar question...
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Funny that this thread resurfaces today.
indeed.... after months of NO offers on my Miata, I have a green light to build an EV for a client. She wanted a volvo, but they are ALL electronic automatic transmisssions which seem problematic to me. I have her talked into looking at vw Passats since they are available with manual trannys.

so, after almost a year, I may have a (first) build-to-suit client. In the meantime we have all seen at least 4 completed EVs up for sale here, some of which sold, but only at a fraction of parts cost..... not a good business opportunity quite yet I'd say.

I plan to start a lecture series next month, working with a local PV installer, to present information on the benefits of the PV-to-EV plan. Probably do a few lectures to adults, circulate thru local schools to guest lecture to science classes, and will be doing a volunteer build this semester at the local high school shop class..... not exactly a lucrative business plan.

maybe in another year or two, but by them the OEMs may have models available at reasonable prices making the DIY a very small niche probably just for hot-rodders and classic car conversions.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,458 Posts
indeed.... after months of NO offers on my Miata, I have a green light to build an EV for a client. She wanted a volvo, but they are ALL electronic automatic transmisssions which seem problematic to me. I have her talked into looking at vw Passats since they are available with manual trannys...
Congrats! You should see if anyone makes an aftermarket control module for the transmission. Companies like TCI make them for the American musclecar industry, someone might for the Volvo, or there could be a chance it's actually using and American transmission (or the "American" transmission is actually made by a foreign company that also makes Volvo's). It's worth a poke, because if she really loves Volvos, having that as a foundation can go a long way towards overall satisfaction in the end.




...maybe in another year or two, but by them the OEMs may have models available at reasonable prices making the DIY a very small niche probably just for hot-rodders and classic car conversions.
The problems are the OEM prices are going to continue to drop, more models will be available in a wide range of categories, and the used OEM EV market will grow. They're not holding value on par with their ICE counterparts, so convincing someone to do a pricey conversion over purchasing an off-lease EV with a warranty is going to be a tough sell.

The one niche they can't touch is that old car that the owner is in love with and wants it to be an EV, whether it makes sense financially or not. That is a pretty small pool at this point. All those production EVs flooding the market and changing public perception might help create more demand for it. For example, a BMW I3 purchaser who has a clean old 3-series in the garage, and starts thinking, "I wish my 3xx was this smooth and nice..."

I have wished for a few years now that some wealthy dude or dudette would ask me to convert a (real) Ferrari or Lambo, and give me the challenge and opportunity to design and develop a conversion that looks and feels like it was made that way. I actually have a partially formed plan for it, I just don't have the pennies in my piggy to prove it. :D
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Congrats! You should see if anyone makes an aftermarket control module for the transmission. Companies like TCI make them for the American musclecar industry

I did find some for auto trannies like the powerglide that are popular for racing, but nothing for the Volvo. A volvo mechanic I talked to said there are just some solenoids, but I hesitate to jump into uncharted water that deep and doubt I could get 'smooth' shifts without various rpm/load feedback sensors involved.... over my head, so I'm sticking w manual conversions.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #36 ·
You really need to study the market well as well as the nature of it and the things that are advisable and not before entering. In order to back you up a good manpower team is needed to ensure that everything will be highly organize in a manner that you want to run it.

wow, that was profound....

of course we are trying to figure out what the Market even IS, but that is pretty tough with a product that has no parallel or past history. This thread is basically serving as market research for people who are attempting.

The conclusion is at this particular point in time, the Market is not quite ready for Electric cars, although the Leaf and Tesla are starting to sell better, the DIY conversion market looks to be slow with eBay sales almost always at a loss.

I just got my first build-to-suit client.... but without a backlog its not worth going out and renting commercial garage space, making it a garage business at best.

I do believe that there WILL be a market to support local DIY conversions in population centers of 100k or so, but its going to take some education, lectures, press, etc to 'sell' the idea for a while.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,458 Posts
wow, that was profound....
not bad for a spammer...
I was thinking it was a spammer too - they usually have nonsensical/obvious quips like that, or snippets out of another post in the thread. I haven't seen the username plastered all over random threads though? Maybe the mods got him already. :)




...of course we are trying to figure out what the Market even IS...

...I do believe that there WILL be a market to support local DIY conversions...
I really think the DIY "money" is going to be in retrofitting modern tech into older cars. Designing and installing better battery packs in used BEV and PHEV production vehicles; software and technology updates that allow those consumers to get more bang for the buck; and ripping the drivetrains out of wrecked/used production EVs/PHEVs and prepping them for use in an ICE conversion (I still think that will be the toughest row to hoe).

If you can take a Leaf control unit it, hack it, reprogram it, and complement that with better hardware, at a reasonable price point, you might end up being in demand. If you can get certification that makes your upgrades legal, you would rule whatever tiny little market you serve. To wit, (ICE) supercar tuner Saleen is coming out with a tubed Model S...

My point is, a lot of us are old school, wrench-in-hand, types and the money is increasingly going to those with mouse-in-hand (tech/software). I started tinkering with CAD over a decade ago, got serious about it around five/six years ago, and have been steadily weighting the scales in that direction. Accordingly, people will gladly pay me $50 for CAD development services, but cough and choke at $50 per hour for fabrication services (I've been offered and laughed at $15 per hour quite a few times) - I think because modern culture has ingrained in people's brains that "tech" is more valuable.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,005 Posts
I was thinking it was a spammer too - they usually have nonsensical/obvious quips like that, or snippets out of another post in the thread. I haven't see the username plastered all over random threads though? Maybe the mods got him already. :)
Nearly every noob with a sig link is a spammer...real ppl don't even set that up for a while. Sometimes the sig link or pics they post get blocked though.
 
21 - 39 of 39 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top