An electric vehicle conversion is a process which replaces a standard motor engine with an electrical system. In theory at least, this can be performed on any motor vehicle, though it’s most common to use a car. The converted vehicle then runs as either a purely electric or hybrid model, reducing running costs but limiting the maximum speed and the distance which can be driven without “refueling.”
The main step of an electric vehicle conversion is to remove the engine and replace it with the relevant electrical parts. These include battery packs, a charger, a power controller and an electric motor. The conversion will also need extra equipment to carry power to vehicle features such as the heating system. The various components will then need to be connected and controlled through electrical circuitry.
It is possible to carry out an electric vehicle conversion yourself rather than contract out the process. Doing so will usually save something in the range of a third of the price. Experts advise using a common and comparatively basic vehicle unless you have a particularly high budget. Many people carrying out home conversions find it very economical to buy a car where the engine has failed, but the car is otherwise working. For conversions carried out by non-professionals, it’s usually not practical to use a vehicle with an automatic transmission.
After an electric vehicle conversion is complete, the general driving process is largely the same. However, there is a risk of damaging the motor via over-revving. This is most likely to occur in a vehicle with a transmission where the driver sticks to first or second gear only. Drivers of newly-converted electric vehicles should therefore take particular care to use the appropriate gear at all times.
Some firms market electric vehicle conversion kits. These are sold on the basis of having everything you will need to carry out your own conversion. However, the diverse nature of products means many people find they need extra equipment not found in these kits. There is also no guarantee that buying such a kit will be any cheaper than buying the components separately.
One important point to remember when carrying out an electric vehicle conversion is the effect of weight. The combined weight of the batteries will normally be measured in hundreds of pounds. This weight must be adequately distributed to avoid steering problems. The calculations for this distribution must take into account the effect of losing the weight of the original engine.