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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I've been kicking around the idea of converting and ICE/building an EV for commuting/short trips for a while. I'm posting here to gauge feasibility and see if anyone has any platform recommendations. Per this stickied post here's an outline/some criteria:
  • Skill Level: Lots of experience in DIY electronics hardware & software (I work as an embedded firmware engineer). I've also recently (in the past 3-4 years) started taking on car maintenance as a hobby. The biggest project I've taken on was doing a clutch job in my 2006 Subaru Outback.
  • Range Hopes: 20-40 mi. My commute is only a few miles, but I'd like to be able to run slightly longer errands with it.
  • Performance? 30-45 mph max. I don't intend on taking it on any interstates.
  • Money? $<5k
  • Parts considered? Other then tools & some basic hardware I am starting with pretty much no materials.
My goal with this project is to take a small basic ICE car (something pre 2000s), strip it down and convert to electric. Something small enough to be light/efficient and be towed behind my current car ('06 outback), but big enough to hold 2 people & stuff in the boot (maybe a hatch?). If anyone can link any similar builds/ point me to where I can search that would be awesome. I'm also looking for any recommendations for cars to look for to start with so I can start to scope out craigslist/fb marketplace.

How am I going to keep it cheap? This is going to be a no frills build. No power anything, no AC, no nothing. The goal is to get from point A to point B on electric power and that's all. Keep it light and keep it simple. This is still very much in the brainstorm stages, but I'll try to answer any additional questions about the intent of this build. Let me know what y'all think!
 

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As an optional approach, you might consider buying a used commuter EV such as a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiev or Nissan Leaf. The battery packs will be degraded but will suffice for the range and speed that you listed. The Laef has front wheel drive and has a much nicer interior. Miev is rear wheel drive and has larger rear volume for carrying stuff. Both can be had in your budget range.

There are plenty of firmware and programming investigations available for the diy person to make modifications and solve while you are driving and enjoying the EV grin.

If you are a mechanical eng. or gear head with machine shop, tools and welder, etc. then ICE conversion would be an appealing approach, but it will cost much more than your budget; if more of an electrical guy then get an EV and learn more about what works and how to convert a car to make it better for you before jumping right in to full-blown ICE Conversion.

just my 2¢,
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As an optional approach, you might consider buying a used commuter EV such as a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiev or Nissan Leaf. The battery packs will be degraded but will suffice for the range and speed that you listed. The Laef has front wheel drive and has a much nicer interior. Miev is rear wheel drive and has larger rear volume for carrying stuff. Both can be had in your budget range.

There are plenty of firmware and programming investigations available for the diy person to make modifications and solve while you are driving and enjoying the EV grin.

If you are a mechanical eng. or gear head with machine shop, tools and welder, etc. then ICE conversion would be an appealing approach, but it will cost much more than your budget; if more of an electrical guy then get an EV and learn more about what works and how to convert a car to make it better for you before jumping right in to full-blown ICE Conversion.

just my 2¢,
I really appreciate this perspective, I didn't know commuter EVs could be had for so cheap. The reason I'm leaning more towards a conversion/diy solution is because I'm looking more for a project then a dedicated daily driver. That being said, the accessibility of inexpensive runabout EVs is pretty surprising.

Why the flat tow requirement?
This helps me set an upper limit of size. I'm not settled down where I'm living right now, so being able to hitch it up and move it a long distance would be nice.
 

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Starting a big project and not being settled down with plenty of garage space and a workbench--these two don't seem like they belong together...
 
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