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Hi All,
Working on planning a conversion of my 67 VW beetle to an EV. I have a bit of knowledge working with cars but I’m no mechanic. My current project was to replace a clutch in an X-type jaguar. I am hoping to get a least 100 mile range but 150 would be my goal. If the car can do 65 mph with surf boards on top, I will be happy. Like to keep the cost as cheap as possible, but I would give my budget to be around the 5 to 7k. Any thoughts on the best route forward?
 

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If you want 100 to 150 miles of range and 100 km/h speeds, you might need to at least double your maximum budget, and likely triple it.

Otherwise it's certainly possible with Tesla modules, being the cheapest option for EV batteries right now.
 

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No matter how you slice it, it'll be a lotta batteries, and mileage decreases precipitously at highway speeds. Do you really need that range in a single day, or is it a range-anxiety-avoidance goal?

A Nissan Leaf does maybe 100mi, and a full pack 24kWh is $3,000-4,000 and 400 pounds. The Bug is much lighter, which will help some...less on the highway. It would be tricky to get all the battery modules in the frunk and tucked into the engine bay, but seems doable. If you're willing to lose the rear seat, easy-peasy, and your weight balance would be better than stock.

On the up side, Bugs are well documented swaps, and it would be extremely difficult to wind up with less than double the torque to the wheels over stock with any range over 50mi.

The costs start to jump when you realize you don't know how to weld, and you can't just throw the batteries in a bag with some wires attached...and the transmission adapter is $1000, and the charger is $1000, and the battery management system is $1000, and the 12v DC-DC converter is $1000, and the cheapest AC motor/controller is $1000...and you find rust behind the firewall and in the heater channels...BUT THAT'S THE JOY OF THE HOBBY
 

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Thanks sounds like I need to adjust my reality a bit. At time I do drive 100+ miles, however my daily commute to work is only 7 miles.

I like the Idea of using parts from a Leaf or other EV cars. Do you use just the batteries or are you using the motor and other parts?
 

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It would be tricky to get all the battery modules in the frunk and tucked into the engine bay, but seems doable.
Most air-cooled VW conversions use the original transaxle so the motor goes where the engine crankcase was. This means that there should be space for battery modules on each side of the motor, but few conversions seem to do that.

If you're willing to lose the rear seat, easy-peasy, and your weight balance would be better than stock.
Before sacrificing the seat, don't forget the rear parcel shelf. While using it for battery means losing an important part of the cargo space, it is at least a usable size and shape and located over the rear axle (a good place for mass). Unfortunately, it is also high, and in the interior so a battery housing is more important than it would be on the other side of the steel body.
 

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You COULD swap the tranny around and put the motor kinda in the tunnel,( tranny don't care which way they run) which gives you the whole engine compartment and fabricate brackets where the fuel tank used to be for more, but that gets into sizing issues. I know people who put a small block chevy in the back seat this way.
 

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I like the Idea of using parts from a Leaf or other EV cars. Do you use just the batteries or are you using the motor and other parts?
This would be a boon, as you can pick up a driving Leaf for $5,000-6,000...It has proven to be very difficult to repurpose the various components, however. They are proprietary, so controlling them (via CAN bus) is still in the "hacking" phase. It involves lots of Internet research, reverse-engineering, cobbling source code together to put on an Arduino...

The other option is to get a running Leaf, and transport everything over to the Bug, pretending the car is still a Leaf (you would need to keep all battery modules)...This is straightforward, but very difficult to debug if you mess up a critical connector up or forget a necessary component. You can read of my trials and tribulations here (I gave up and will just use the batteries and motor): https://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php?t=199847

You would need to find a way to mate the Leaf motor to the VW transaxle (no off-the-shelf adapter exists), or pull the VW motor/transaxle and find a way to mount the Leaf stuff there (which involves fabricating motor mounts and custom axles).

EV conversions have come a long way, but we're not quite in "LS swap" territory yet.
 

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You COULD swap the tranny around and put the motor kinda in the tunnel,( tranny don't care which way they run) which gives you the whole engine compartment and fabricate brackets where the fuel tank used to be for more, but that gets into sizing issues.
Rotating the transaxle orientation will only save space if the transmission end of the transaxle (which would now be rearward of the differential section) is significantly smaller than the motor... and if the motor fits, despite being larger, or modification to make room for it is acceptable.

Gears turn either way, but gear oil may not circulate as intended in reverse rotation, so where the transaxle allows, flipping the ring gear is better than using reversed input rotation.
 

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Welcome Salty!

You're in a similar boat to me. I joined the forum looking for info on a swap/conversion/project I wanted to do and while hunting for info and parts I just ended up buying a whole EV for less than the cost of some of the parts!

I was planning on about $12k in parts (no labor) to get a stripped down, gutted old (essentially) golf cart with doors to go 50-60miles and 45-65mph. Ended up buying a whole, fully functioning EV with AC/Heat, bluetooth stereo, 100mpc range and 70mph top speed for less than 25% of my initial budget. I spent less on the whole car than I did my last golf cart. Now I'm just going to sink some of my budget I saved into upgrades and repairs on the new car. In the long run I think I'll be happier.

I know that doesn't help you and your question but I wanted to share my story since we both seemed to be on the same journey!
 

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I like the Idea of using the leaf. I was thinking of picking up a leaf, breaking the car down. Then reassemble everything outside the car. Make sure everything works, then start to remove components that will not be needed. Hopefully I’m left with only the items needed to run the car. I think I would like to use everything I could from the leaf.

What other cars can be used for this porpoise? I’m currently living in Europe so I have access to other models. Is there anything special over here that might be better than the Leaf?
 

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I'm not sure what is available in Europe but the Leaf with it's air cooled battery is about the worse production EV from a "use the battery" POV
 

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If Leaf batteries don't overheat when dragging around a 4,000 pound car or when charging at 6.6kW, why would they in a lighter car with slower charging?

Eliminating the cooling loop is a bonus, I'd say.
 

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The issue is not overheating - certainly NOT here

The problem is that some of the cells run warmer than their mates - this is a positive feedback process that means that those cells degrade sooner - and as a result the whole pack degrades

Batteries with liquid cooling balance all of the cell temperatures - so the ones that would otherwise be warmer stay cool
 

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While I agree that liquid thermal management is good, I agree that the simplicity of having no active thermal management is an advantage. In addition, the Leaf has unusually small modules (only 2S) and they stack readily, which are packaging advantages.

A substantial advantage of the Leaf is just how common the things are (we even have them here in Alberta, where EVs are not at all popular), which makes both the components and DIY community knowledge about them more available.

Aside from these features, the rest of the recent or current EVs based on gas-engine platforms are all potentially suitable sources. Offhand, that might include:
  • Volkswagen eGolf
  • Ford Focus Electric
  • Fiat 500e
  • Chevrolet Spark EV
What is available locally depends more on the manufacturer's marketing strategy than any technical factor.
 

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Hi All,
Working on planning a conversion of my 67 VW beetle to an EV. I have a bit of knowledge working with cars but I’m no mechanic. My current project was to replace a clutch in an X-type jaguar. I am hoping to get a least 100 mile range but 150 would be my goal. If the car can do 65 mph with surf boards on top, I will be happy. Like to keep the cost as cheap as possible, but I would give my budget to be around the 5 to 7k. Any thoughts on the best route forward?
Within your budget, in Europe, is a used i-Miev which you can either drive as-is or use the components to convert your beetle. Or buy just the components you need from a scrap dealer. But Europe is sadly not specific enough. If Northern Europe, used parts and donor cars to fit your budget are available here in Norway. Plenty of them. And all car scrapping centers are now online through a single web portal so you can see what parts they have in stock. I see that battery, motor, inverter, charger, transaxle, axles and some cabling will sum up to about 6k USD, so a used donor car is a cheaper option.
Tire size is 175/60R15 from 2012, 175/55R15 2010/2011. So 9% off from stock beetle.
Interestingly enough, here in Norway, a '67 beetle is about the only car you would be able to convert. Has to be older then '72 due to some regulations that changed that year.
Whether it makes SENSE to convert a beetle using a working EV is another question. Depends on your love for the beetle. I can see it, no problem. Others might not ;-)
 
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