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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone,

I love alternative energy ideas, and I'm very enamored with the electric car conversion concept.

Before I can begin I need to know if it will be strictly a labor of love, or will I be able to sell my EV to cover the conversion costs and maybe make a small profit?

Can anyone point me to answers to this question please?

Thank you.
 

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There have been a number of people attempting to re-sell conversions at a profit to cover labor... with limited success. I think it is hard to sell a used (cheap) donor for $12-$15k regardless of how nice a job you do on the conversion. Market might be conversion service on THEIR car that they like and can see the value in $5k of electronics, $2-10k of batteries, and $2-3k of labor.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much for your reply. I really appreciate the information.

So, the $5-$6,000 that I have been seeing doesn't include the batteries? So, the total cost is going to be more around $12-$15,000 then. Is that about right?

Thanks again!
 

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So, the $5-$6,000 that I have been seeing doesn't include the batteries? So, the total cost is going to be more around $12-$15,000 then. Is that about right?
right. for an 'average build' it will be about 5-6 for electrics, then batteries will run 2k for lead, 5k for 120v worth of 100ah Li, on up to 10k for 200ah pack, plus about 100-150 hours of labor which might come down to 80-100 hours if you do the same car more than once.
 

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http://www.e-volks.com has had success selling very cheap conversions. They use like a $200 motor, run just 48 or 72 Volts, make their own adapters, often they have rough appearance, but can sell them for around $5k.
Hello everyone,

I love alternative energy ideas, and I'm very enamored with the electric car conversion concept.

Before I can begin I need to know if it will be strictly a labor of love, or will I be able to sell my EV to cover the conversion costs and maybe make a small profit?

Can anyone point me to answers to this question please?

Thank you.
 

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Before I can begin I need to know if it will be strictly a labor of love, or will I be able to sell my EV to cover the conversion costs and maybe make a small profit?

Can anyone point me to answers to this question please?

Thank you.
Take a look at the cars on the EV Tradin' Post, or here, or the ones that kick around on ebay. Not a single one of them sells for more than the cost of the components, let alone the labor.

That's to be expected; they are used cars after all, and no one can really expect to get MORE for a used (non-collector value) car than it cost originally. So if you are converting cars one at a time in your shop or garage, your just simply going to have to take way less than you have in it in order to sell it.

Converting cars as a business is a whole different matter. Very few people have done this successfully. Wayne Alexander has done the most cars, and he builds them when a customer shows up who wants a car, not the other way around. You need a customer first, then you can work on trying to make something on the parts and the work, but it won't be much- maybe a few thousand dollars per car. If the car takes 100 hours to convert, that may be decent money. If it takes 400 hours, and it isn't delivered perfect and needs some customer support and reworking, then you'd be better off working at at WalMart for $8 an hour, because at least they don't call you at home long after they paid you the last dollar to try to get more work out of you...

It matters very much here what vehicle you convert. If you do a nice clean Miata or Ranger pickup, you'll have a decent chance of selling it. If you put the same work into a rusty tercel or Metro, or anything with a crappy interior or more than 10 years old, you just aren't making something anyone is going to want to buy. It will be very, very difficult to sell.

Bottom line: its a labor of love. If, at the end of the conversion, you can maybe get most of your out-of-pocket money back out of the car by selling it, then you should consider yourself very lucky and give the new buyer a hug. More likely, you'll have to break up the car to sell your components for 50-70 cents on the dollar.

This whole game is also being played on the short end of the field. In two or three years, when Nissan, GM, Ford, Tesla and who knows who else actually start delivering OEM EVs, the conversion business is going to get even harder than it is.

Just my $.02
 

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I completely agree. If you spend the money to do a nice conversion, no way you'll make money on it. People who can scrounge around REALLY cheap parts and to a really cheap conversion might make a couple of skekels... but small market there. I sold my (I think nicely done) conversion for about 3k less than it cost me to build. Didn't get a dime for my labor.
 

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I certainly view my build as a labour of love.
I am not even completely sure that I will ever make my investment costs back in reduced running costs.

I can imagine that a converted car will sell for whatever value it would have as an unconverted model less the engine.
If it was a rust bucket then it will be worth very little whereas if it was a collectable car then it will retain some, or most, of the value of the original donor.
However, if it is a very collectable period car then its value may be diminished by the conversion as it is no longer original and has been 'messed about with'.

My view of converting as a business has to be as case of 'converting on demand' when a client request the work and will pay the premium for you to do it.
In terms of selling anything I convert I would most likely only sell the donor, less all the EV components, and use the EV components for the next conversion.
I wouldn't, as a rule, expect more then the spare parts or scrap value for the donor of the type I would afford to use.
 

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I am wondering if the problem with marketing converted EVs is the actual cost and perceived value, or simply financing. I think MOST of the potential market does not have $15k in cash for a car, and is unable to get a normal loan for a vehicle that shows a book value for far less than it's converted value....

I am thinking that we need to create a specialty loan operation to finance sales of converted vehicles.
 

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Well, I don't think there's anything simple about almost any car purchase.

I am the exception. I buy and sell cars like most people buy clothes- it isn't a big deal to me and I'm not afraid of a bad transaction. The average person, however, buys a car what, every 3-8 years? There's so much involved in it, everything from safety to self image and affordability. People like us here and on the EVDL are no real exception to the rule. We still cheap out all too often- its no surprise to me that even the EV hobbyists like us are largely unwilling to start with a good car. How many people are actually converting cars that are worth $25k, or even $5k, as they sit? This isn't just a monetary issue. Yes, financing has something to do with it, but not that much, really.

The bottom line for me is that I think most EVs are a pretty lousy value for what they are. Don't get me wrong, I'm a committed EV hobbyist, but I think a $15k EV conversion is a pretty silly and pointless purchase for the person who just wants a car. Look at how hard the OEMs are working to produce a workable EV value proposition- a $32 Nissan Versa and a $40k Malibu that, but for the $8k+ of government price support would be sale-proof to everyone besides young Hollywood types or the occasional retired hippie wannabe. Its a tough sell all the way around, and way worse at the bottom end with a used conversion that offers little support, suspect engineering and components that vary from great, handmade treasures to industrial surplus to Chinese knock-off crap- usually all in the same car. Buying a conversion is such a crapshoot, I'm really surprised that people are willing to buy in the $10k-$15k range at all. I think that very few conversions actually sell for that kind of money.

I probably wouldn't buy a conversion, but rather look for a used factory EV. A rusty Solectria can be found around $4k or less, and that's a pretty good value for the parts, provided they're good. Same is true of a GM S-10, or a Siemens Ranger. At least you kind of know what you should be getting with one of those old OEM vehicles. As the conversion market matures, you can also kind of surmise what you're getting with a Warp 9 (supposing you know whe build date and what the status of its development was at that time,) or a Jim Husted motor, or a Zilla or Soliton controller, Vicor bricks, etc. The conversion work kind of speaks for itself, and there are definitely cars I'd be happy to own, but the vast majority of what I see is just too amateurish to pay good money for, because I'd probably want to redo so much of it anyway.

When I get around to buying a used EV, (and I will because like every other category of car, a decent used working example is always the cheapest way into a vehicle,) I'll drive a hard bargain because its used, and used lead batteries, even if they are a month old, have NO COMMERCIAL VALUE to me whatsoever. I would probably discount lithiums 2/3 from new, unless someone had some damned detailed and complete records on how they've been used. It always kills me when I see an ad for an EV with batteries that are "brand new" from 6 months ago. Lead batteries have a service life of what, 200-300 cycles, which drops to A HANDFUL to NONE if they have been abused? Thanks, but no, I don't want your "new" batteries. </end battery rant>

So anyway, speaking beyond myself again-

No, the "market," or whomever you think is out there waiting to buy an EV home-built or limited-run conversion, will not support profitable resale of such a vehicle, unless you are Wayne at EV-Blue or a handful of other guys who probably aren't really making any money converting cars.

Its not a bad thing, just the state of affairs we're in. Drive oil prices back up to $150/barrel, and I'd be willing to re-evaluate my opinion...

TomA
 
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