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Can You Convert a Gas-Powered Car to an Electric Vehicle?

There’s a movement starting, and it doesn’t require gas. It’s the invention and induction of the electric vehicle to today’s drivers. The electric vehicle has greatly improved in popularity in the last few years, from the smaller and more economical compact cars to luxury sedans that are extravagantly priced. While purchasing one of these models is certainly something to consider, converting your much-loved current vehicle or a moribund older model vehicle with a conversion kit might be a smarter and more cost-effective choice. Here’s everything you need to know about converting a gas-powered car into an electric vehicle.

Best Cars for Electric Conversion

When considering which type of vehicle is best suited for conversions three things should be at the top of the list: minimal weight, plenty of storage for batteries, and in good shape.

Many smaller compact car models and small two-wheel drive pickup trucks are perfect for conversions as they are often lighter in weight and more aerodynamic. Lighter vehicles are most desirable as the heavier a vehicle is, the more power it will require to function. Something to consider is that, once the conversion is complete, the car will weigh more (by a few hundred pounds) than it did with an engine and a full tank of gas because of the weight from the added equipment, especially the batteries. You’ll also need to account for space for the batteries. Your vehicle will require about 20 electric car batteries and will need ample space to house them. The most desirable areas within the vehicle are either under the seat or in the cargo space, to protect them from the elements. Be sure to choose a vehicle that is in ideal shape, free from rust and other mechanical troubles. Since the vehicle will require extraction of the gas-powered engine, it may be wise to acquire a vehicle with an irreparable or dead engine, as it will cost much less than a fully functioning vehicle. Lastly, choosing a car or truck with a manual transmission or gear reduction system is best. Converting a manual transmission may prove to be simpler as the drive components and axles are left in place, reducing the amount of labor or associated costs in the transition process.

Cost Consideration

electric car charging Conversion kits are available for many makes and models of vehicles and can be a fun do-it-yourself project for those with the know-how. However, a technician who is well-versed in vehicle operations and mechanics is best suited and recommended for this arduous conversion process. Although the cost of the kit can run anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, excluding the cost of the vehicle, it is still more cost effective and significantly less than a newly-purchased electric vehicle. The bulk of the expense for transformation goes to the batteries, which are an integral part of the conversion. It’s recommended that you choose quality over quantity when it comes to purchasing EV batteries. Batteries that last a long time are more favorable and may cost less over the lifetime of the vehicle versus batteries that may travel for longer distances but have a shorter shelf life.

The Conversion Process

When converting a combustion engine to an electric vehicle, first, all gas engine components are removed including the engine, radiator, and gas tank. Additional components will then need to be added to the vehicle including a controller, brackets to hold sealed batteries, an electric motor, and brackets to drive the power steering pump, and the air conditioning compressor. The vehicle will also need an electric water heater to be plumbed to the heater core. For the brakes to maintain their function, a vacuum pump will be required for the vacuum brake booster.  Once the engine is extracted and its related parts are primed for use with electricity, a few more items will be needed to start the system as well as to monitor it while in motion. Installing a charging system with a DC converter as well as a volt amp meter will prepare the vehicle. Next, the accelerator pedal, formerly known as the gas pedal, will need to be connected to the entire system. A potentiometer, used to measure electromotive force, will be connected to the controller. Lastly, the various other electrical connections will need to be wired to all components. After all this is done, the once gas-powered automobile is officially an electric vehicle.