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DIY electric vehicles are a challenge but a good one. Not only can you create something really special and unique, converting an ICE vehicle to electric has some pretty outstanding benefits, including to your wallet, energy security and of course the environment, especially when charged from renewable energy.

Chris Jones, Vice President of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association is here to help explain the process of converting to electric and what you can expect.

Convert or Buy?

Modern electric cars are of outstanding quality, and often come with comprehensive warranties. If economics are your main motivation, a production EV from the sales lot will offer the best bang for buck. However converting an otherwise sound car can offer a rewarding challenge and the option to create something truly unique.

Converting Cars to Electric

In 2010 Western Australia began Australia’s first ever electric vehicle trial, a 3 year trial to find out whether electric cars were a good fit for Australia. While they found few technological barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles there were no electric cars from major manufacturers available in the country at the time so instead they used converted Ford Focuses for the study.

Each converted car was equipped with a 23 kWh batter pack, a 27 kW DC motor and a 1000A motor controller. These cars were then used in the study as regular fleet vehicles to find their usability for everyday driving. These converted vehicles achieved a road-tested driving range of 131km on a single charge (dynamometer testing resulted in a 143km range) which significantly exceeded the driving range of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV which only achieved a 112km range under identical road-test conditions.

This study, while in only an effort to prove Australia could easily adopt electric vehicle technology it also goes to show just how proficient converted electric cars can be.

How to Convert Cars to Electric

Chris Jones, Vice President of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association explains:

Up until very recently, if you wanted an electric car or motorbike, you had to build it yourself. The technical challenge of removing the petrol engine and replacing it with a motor, controller and battery has kept many backyard workshops lit up at night. It’s also a great way of preserving an old or unique car for which replacement parts are hard to find. However it will be difficult to come up with a vehicle as refined as a production model, and certainly not at the same price point. It’s always best to start with a quality donor vehicle you are comfortable with, as it will only ever be this good.
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