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Hello all! I am getting started on the planning of an EV conversion, which is something I have thought about for quite a while. I live off grid, so I have a fair bit of experience with electricity and batteries, and I am looking forward to the challenge of converting a vehicle.



I have been skimming this forum, and I feel like an idea is starting to form in my head of what I want to build.


I am kind of leaning towards AC because most of my driving will be out in the country with fairly decent hills (there is a 1200' 9% hill I climb just about every time I leave home), and mostly short trips of ~10 miles round trip. I would like to plan on having regen be an option.



Top speed is not really a huge concern, 55mph is the speed limit around here, so I suppose it would be good to be able to go 60-65 if I had to. Most of my driving is going to be at 45.



I would like to have a range of about 50 miles, because I will probably not be able to charge at home initially. The family farm is 4 miles up the road, and has a big solar array, so that will serve as my gas station. Town is 5 miles away in the other direction, so it would be nice to be able to run into town a couple times before needing to charge.


I think I want to get a little 2 door compact car for the donor - maybe a metro, or some sort of little honda or something. My aim is "value" rather than "cheap," and I figure that smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic is going to be the most efficient way to get from point A to B.



I am thinking to reach those goals, I will need Li-Ion batteries, which it seems would give a better value in the long haul anyway. Are there any issues with Lithium and regen?



I am figuring all this is going to cost at least 15k, but I might tell my wife 20 to be on the safe side?



I suppose my biggest question right now is how much battery will I really need to get the range I want? It seems like looking at the EV album and some of the range calculators gives me conflicting idea about how far I would go. Also, how much does motor selection influence range? Would a less powerful motor with less acceleration end up really saving you anything? I guessI am thinking in terms of the difference in MPG of a large ICE engine vs a smaller one - but am I right in thinking there is less difference on electric where the larger motor is not incurring the same kind of losses as the gas engine because it doesnt idle?


Clearly, I still have lots of reading to do, but I look forward to hearing from everyone who has gone down this path already (and hopefully can steer me away from the bigger missteps along the way!)
 

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At this time, the vehicle you describe that will meet or exceed all of your requirements and be ready to drive tomorrow, at a about half of your $15-20K projected budget, is a used Nissan Leaf. Unless you are particularly enamored of a certain vehicle or vehicle type, a used Leaf is the way to go.

Plenty of people, for various reasons, have chosen the conversion route. Be aware you're in for months or even years of work. Among other options, Leaf drive trains, batteries, and other components are sometimes available at quite reasonable prices on the salvage market for conversion projects. Still, a lot of skill and some adjusting around is going to be required to successfully and safely use the Leaf (or any after market) parts in another vehicle. And, The Leaf parts haven't all been successfully integrated into converted vehicles. This includes the DC to DC converter, AC control, level 2 charger, DC fast charge system and the main control system. At least the last time I looked. I suspect this will change towards full integration of parts in the very near future.


One option would be to buy a used Leaf. Then, as you get use to the characteristics of an EV in general and the Leaf components in particular, look around for a donor vehicle that would be worthy, in your mind, of converting.
 

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You can pick up 2013 Nissan Leafs with reasonable milage for $8300 bucks and they will fill the need. Don't get anything older than a 2013 Nissan Leaf because the batteries prior were not as good as the 2013 to current model batteries. I drove a Leaf for 6 years and we are full solar here so charging is no issue. Short drives are cake and the power is excellent. Plenty of room too. I so much miss my Leaf.

Paying off our home before I think of buying another Leaf or OEM electric car. Until then I'll continue with my hybrid and converting my VW's.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Haha, I had completely overlooked the idea of just buying an OEM electric, so now I will have to add that to the list of things to research.


Be aware you're in for months or even years of work.

I suppose to be honest, I was sort of looking for an excuse to take on a big project, but if I am going to be true to my own criteria, a Leaf does seem pretty hard to beat...



A quick search pulled up a lot of options, starting at 8500 and up to 15000 here in the local area. Would it be better to spend a bit more up front for a car with a slightly newer battery? What is the replacement cost like, and does anyone have first hand experience with replacing a battery on a leaf?



I like the thought of learning on something easy, and I could put the time and money into building out more off grid capacity to charge it with.


Thanks for the input, I will give it some thought!
 
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