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Encyclopedia > Electric vehicle conversion

An electric vehicle conversion is the modification of a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) driven vehicle to battery electric propulsion, creating a battery electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid. In some cases the vehicle may be built by the converter, or assembled from a kit car, and vehicles of this type are also noted below. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... A colorized automobile engine The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of fuel and an oxidizer (typically air) occurs in a confined space called a combustion chamber. ... For other uses, see Battery. ... Electricity (from New Latin Ä“lectricus, amberlike) is a general term for a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. ... For electric vehicles other than battery powered passenger automobiles, see electric vehicle. ... Hybrids Plus plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius conversion with PHEV-30 (30 mile or 48 km all-electric range) battery packs A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a hybrid vehicle with batteries that can be recharged by connecting a plug to an electric power source. ... A kit-car is an automobile that is available in kit form, i. ...

Vehicles may be converted by a manufacturer (as was done by Ford Motor Company to create the Ford Ranger EV) or by an independent converter that purchases new vehicles without a motor or related equipment (these vehicles are called "gliders"[1] to offer a two-stage vehicle and the procedure is called third-party (power)trainization). A two-stage vehicle is a vehicle that has been built by two separate manufacturers. The result is a standard, complete vehicle.[2] “Ford” redirects here. ... The Ford Ranger EV (Electric Vehicle) is a battery electric vehicle produced by Ford Motor Company. ... Gliders are heavier-than-air aircraft primarily intended for unpowered flight A paraglider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

Most conversions in North America are performed by hobbyists who typically will convert a well used vehicle with a non-functioning engine, since such defective vehicles can be quite inexpensive to purchase. Other hobbyists with larger budgets may prefer to convert a later model vehicle, or a vehicle of a particular type.

In some countries, the user can choose to buy a converted vehicle of any model in the automaker dealerships only paying the cost of the batteries and motor, with no installation costs (it is called preconversion or previous conversion). This article is about car dealerships. ...


Elements of a conversion

  • The battery pack, which provides a source of electrical power. The most commonly available and affordable batteries are lead acid flooded type. Next are the AGM (Absorption Glass Mat) sealed maintenance free batteries, a little more powerful and expensive. Then there are the more exotic batteries like NI-MH and LI-ION; more difficult to find but light and longer lasting, maintenance free, and much more expensive. The new lithium batteries are showing some promise for EVs in the near future.
  • The charger which restores energy to the batteries (which may be mounted within the vehicle or at a special charging station at some fixed location)
  • The power controller, which regulates the flow of energy between the battery and the motor(s)
  • One or more electric motors and their mechanical attachment to the driveline
  • Power conductors connecting the battery, controller, and motor(s)
  • Accessory equipment to power auxiliary equipment such as power brakes and heating system
  • Control circuitry and equipment to allow control and interlocking of the various components
  • Instrumentation specific to the operation and maintenance of the conversion

Vehicle types (including scratch built)

Electric bicycle

An electric bicycle is a class of bicycles that are fitted with an electric motor. Often they are powered by rechargeable batteries however some experimental electric bicycles run directly on or recharge their batteries via solar panels, fuel cells, gas generators or other alternative energy sources. Some experimenters have even used super capacitors to store energy. Using an on-board generator may impact the legal jurisdictional definition of an electric bicycle. A few types of electric bicycles are able to re-capture energy from braking and can re-charge the batteries while braking or travelling down hills (regenerative braking). With the advent of newer technology further features can be expected.

Some electric bikes have features where the motor can move the bicycle by itself if the rider chooses not to pedal, while others require the rider to pedal at all times. This latter type may in some jurisdictions allow the vehicle to be used on bicycle trails that otherwise prohibit motorized vehicles of any kind. (See motorized bicycle). A motorized bicycle is a bicycle with an attached motor used to assist with pedalling. ...

The conversion of a bicycle to electric power is probably the lowest cost means of learning conversion methods. Battery packs are usually lead acid gel cells since these are available in small sizes suitable for this application. It is also practical to experiment with more expensive battery types since only a small pack is required. It is possible to repurpose battery packs and chargers intended for powering toys and similar small electrical devices.

Electric motorcycle and Scooters

Low speed Scooters are not typically suitable for on the road use. These may be configured for either standing or sitting use. Some local laws apply bicycle laws to such scooters such as helmet and pedestrian right of way considerations.

Motorcycle conversions are a specialty niche which can offer an opportunity to build a relatively low cost electric vehicle. Most of these use a two wheel configuration, although the two types of three wheel vehicle (and sometimes four wheel vehicles) are classified as motorcycles in many jurisdictions if their weight is sufficiently low (typically around 500 kg/1000 pounds maximum). If a tricycle layout is employed, greater handling stability is obtained with the single wheel at the back, with normal automotive type front wheel steering, as compared with placing the single wheel in the front.

Economy coupe

This elderly fiat employs batteries that can be mounted in any position
This elderly fiat employs batteries that can be mounted in any position

Owing to its light weight and efficiency, a light vehicle can make an excellent choice- particularly if care is taken in component selection and placement. It is possible to obtain conversion kits for some popular light vehicles, most notably the rear motor, rear drive Volkswagen Beetle, its Type 3 evolution, and its successor, the front motor/drive VW Rabbit. This article is about the original Volkswagen Beetle. ... The Volkswagen Type 3 was introduced in 1961 by Volkswagen to diversify their product range beyond the Type 1 Beetle and the Type 2 Bus. The Type 3, officially the Volkswagen 1500, was designed to allow Volkswagen to make a more sophisticated car while maintaining much of the engineering from... VW Golf Mk. ...

By converting a light vehicle it is possible to use a smaller motor, which both weighs and costs less than a larger motor. A lighter overall vehicle weight will reduce power consumption in start and stop traffic and so increase range in many practical driving conditions.

(At least one commercial converter, Solectria, had converted the front wheel drive General Motors Geo Metro for electric use, creating the Solectria Force. Solectria was acquired by Azure Dynamics of Canada in January 2005 and now focuses on electric and hybrid fleet vehicles.) The Geo Metro first appeared in Chevrolet-Geo showrooms in 1989. ... The Solectria Force is a Geo Metro, professionally converted from a new, motorless vehicle (called in the industry a glider) to become a battery electric vehicle. ...

Canadian Electric Vehicles have conversion kits for an electric Geo and a whole range of vehicles from compacts to trucks.

Compact sedan or coupe

A compact sedan may be a better choice than a subcompact owing to better load capacity and more room for battery placement. Some commercial EV Conversions use vehicles in this size range. One example is a 1992 Honda Civic [4]. In this conversion, the back seat was retained, and there is still enough room to sink nine flooded lead acid batteries low in the trunk where the spare tire was located, as well as another nine batteries under the hood. With suspension modifications, (increasing shock length & spring rating), the car must still be below GVWR , even with the driver and passengers. Exceeding the total design weight of the vehicle would be illegal. A gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the estimated total weight of a road vehicle that is loaded to capacity, including the weight of the vehicle itself plus fuel, passengers, cargo, and other miscellaneous items such as extra aftermarket parts. ...

Full size sedan

Full size sedans and minivans are generally considered to be poor candidates for EV conversion. As the suspensions and tires are already operating close to the maximum permissible it may be necessary to make substantial modifications in these areas. It may be easier to obtain upgraded suspension components for some smaller vehicles, if these are also typically used for sports racing (particularly autocross). Starting with a heavy vehicle and adding batteries will result in poor performance in acceleration, handling, braking, and economy of operation. Mini Cooper participating in an autocross event Autocross is a form of motorsports that emphasizes safe, low-cost competition and active participation. ...

Sports car

For a person interested in sports car performance and appearance, the creation of a satisfying conversion will likely lead to a number of difficulties in such details as battery disposition, as such vehicles generally have available space distributed in small volumes around the vehicle. This leads to complexity in securing and wiring batteries. Such vehicles can offer stunning performance in the lower speed ranges owing to light weight and rear wheel drive and may also offer good range from their superior aerodynamics.

The 1969-1976 Porsche 914 is one of the more successful sportscar conversion candidates, as well as being one of the most popular. Once converted, it boasts better performance in range, acceleration and top speed than other candidates. Also, its low aquistion costs contributes to its popularity as a candidate. Some manufacturers of conversion kits have made a kit specific to the 914.

Another popular sportscar used for conversion is the 1984-1989 Toyota MR2 Reasons for its popularity are low weight before conversion, low cost to purchase the car, and available locations within the car to place the large batteries that most people use (lead-acid and its derivative technologies). The later MR2 body style (Mark 2) does not seem as popular, and as of March 2008, there is only one known conversion Toyota is also known for its hybrid Prius, and the Toyota Rav4 EV. Hybrid Synergy Drive The Toyota Prius [ˈpri. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Tesla Motors has produced a high end electric sports car (with exceptional performance), although not a conversion but rather being of new construction following an electrically powered initial design. Such a performance vehicle suggests what converters may be able to do once there is a ready access to lightweight and powerful batteries. For a non-production conversion using such batteries and a modern A/C motor and controller see Wrightspeed_X1. The Wrightspeed X1 is an Ariel Atom sports car modified to use an all-electric powertrain. ...

Sterling Sports Cars LLC Low cost sports car conversion option. If appearance is as important as performance this company offers DIY options and turnkey cars. Very aerodynamic and space for battery options. Retro European styling from the 70's with modern details.

The Bradley GT II as well as other VW based kit cars are very popular conversion candidates due to their being inexpensive, extensive support groups as well as their simple sports car design. Availability of conversion kits for these cars are quite prevalent with commercial retail establishments that specialize in EV conversions.

Light truck

Light trucks are especially suitable for hobbyist conversion because it is easy to locate batteries remote from the passenger compartment and there is a good load handling capacity for the use of heavy batteries such as the flooded lead-acid batteries commonly used in golf carts. Light trucks also offer substantial utility in use simply because they are trucks.. Even if a portion of the weight capacity is removed by the presence of batteries within the cargo bed, much of the spacial utility remains. A light truck is highly recommended as a first conversion effort because of the simplicity of component layout. With proper battery placement the stability of a late production truck can be improved over the ICE version.

Canadian Electric Vehicles produce conversions for many types of vehicles - including light trucks.

Other trucks - full size and most SUVs

These are rarely converted due to their excessive weight, instability, and aerodynamic inefficiencies. To make the situation worse, many modern trucks/SUVs continue to get bulkier and heavier while their frames (or unibodies) are built thinner and lighter and a high stance increases the hight of the center of gravity, a distinct disadvantage if there is no frame to enable a low battery mounting. As a direct result, the payload carrying capacity and thus the GVWR of the vehicles goes down. Such a trait is not desirable because it limits the weight of the battery pack that can be carried, limiting the maximum battery-to-vehicle weight ratio that could be achieved for the vehicle when converted to an EV. (Such considerations are important due to current price, weight, and performance limitations current battery technoligies.) For a given battery type, reducing the battery-to-vehicle weight ratio always results in reduced vehicle range per charge. However, despite these mostly unavoidable limitations, several SUVs and larger trucks have been successfully converted to electric power by hobbyists. Some examples include the "Gone Postal" van converted to an EV racer by Roderick Wilde and Suckamps EV Racing, the 1971 Land Rover EV converted by Wilde Evolutions, and the 1988 Jeep Cherokee EV converted by Nick Viera. A gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the estimated total weight of a road vehicle that is loaded to capacity, including the weight of the vehicle itself plus fuel, passengers, cargo, and other miscellaneous items such as extra aftermarket parts. ...

Electric buses

The principle efforts in the development electric buses without trolleys and wires have involved limited production of very expensive fuel cell vehicles. Most economically effective development in this area involves the creation of hybrid buses, well suited to this application owning to frequent stops and starts and effective energy recovery and release in this cycle. Another solution is the use of battery electric buses that follow the principle of replacing (discharged batteries) instead of recharging. An articulated trolleybus in Arnhem, Netherlands A trolleybus (also known as electric bus, trolley bus, trolley coach, trackless trolley, trackless tram or simply trolley) is a bus powered by two overhead electric wires, from which it draws electricity using two trolley poles. ... A trolleybus in Arnhem An electric trolleybus (also known as trolley bus or trackless trolley or simply trolley) is a bus powered by two overhead electric wires, from which the bus draws electricity using two trolley poles. ... For other types of hybrid transportation, see Hybrid vehicle (disambiguation). ...



While this type of vehicle is usually made to be a "street-legal" performance machine, it may also be developed for occasional use as a drag racing vehicle. The leading vehicle in this field is the "Maniac Mazda" [5] a Mazda RX-7 sports car converted from rotary engine to electric by Roderick Wilde. This vehicle can outrun Dodge Viper and Ferrari sports cars in quarter mile drag races. Top Fuel dragster Drag racing is a sport in which cars race down a track with a set distance as fast as possible. ...

Autocross racer

EVs may prove to be especially suitable for autocross contests as low speed acceleration is especially important to success in this type of racing. Specific classes for electric autocross (called electrocross ) are being introduced in some venues. Vehicles for these will typically be economy car conversions or custom built chassis but with excess rear weight bias to allow agile handling under the control of an experienced driver (such rearward balance may be dangerous for everyday use). Mini Cooper participating in an autocross event Autocross is a form of motorsports that emphasizes safe, low-cost competition and active participation. ...

Drag racer

Intended only for specialized straight line quarter mile (acceleration) racing this type of vehicle is used only "off road" at specialized "drag strips". A dragstrip is a facility for conducting automobile acceleration events. ...

High speed straight line racer

Even more specialized than the drag racer this is intended to obtain high speeds on long, straight, and flat raceways, such as the dry lake beds found in locations such as the Bonneville Salt Flats. Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The 2004 Buckeye Bullet Team The Buckeye Bullet is the worlds fastest electric car. ... Bonneville Salt Flats The Bonneville Salt Flats are a 121 km² (47 mi²) salt flat in northwestern Utah. ...

Custom chassis

Suitable for a builder who is capable of constructing a kit car, with good abilities and equipment in machining and welding this can result in a unique vehicle. It is especially suitable for the construction of a lightweight vehicle that can offer exceptional performance. A kit-car is an automobile that is available in kit form, i. ... Welding is a fabrication process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. ...

A glider kit includes all components of a vehicle except the power train.[3][4][5] In a vehicle, the term drivetrain or powertrain refers to the group of components that generate power and deliver it to the road surface, water, or air. ...

Electric Boats

[6] Electric boats offer the ability to have a powered boat on lakes that exclude gasoline motors. Edison Marine has built a 17' solid mahogany runabout with dual electric motors for just these applications. These boats offer more options for boaters who want an electric powered boat that has the looks and aesthetics of the runabouts of the past. These boats are primarily cocktail cruisers and will run all day at 5-7 knots. They are capable of speeds exceeding 30 MPH for about ten minutes at a time. High speed operation does shorten overall run time.

Novelty solar vehicle

At the 2005 Stanford University EV Gathering

Above: Bob Schneeveis[7][8][9] demonstrates his Silver Sofa to the delight of his passengers. This can spin rapidly in place as does a carnival ride and its batteries are recharged by the solar panels. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1280x1024, 449 KB)Back side of the novelty electric vehicle Silver Sofa, created by the legendary battlebot and battery electric vehicle innovator Bob Schneeveis. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1280x1024, 432 KB)Silver Sofa created by Bob Schneeveiss. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1280x1024, 373 KB)Novelty electric vehicle. ...

A novelty vehicle or an electric powered art car may not be suitable for on road use. Applications include electric vehicle show demonstrations, parades, parade floats, float towing, and eclectic off-road gatherings such as Burning Man. This vehicle is ideal for the beach (where not prohibited) and to promote tourist places but will usually require trailering to its operating site. An art car is a vehicle that has its appearance modified as an act of personal artistic expression. ... The event is named after its Saturday night ritual, the burning of a wooden effigy. ... For other uses, see Beach (disambiguation). ... A tourist boat travels the River Seine in Paris, France Tourism can be defined as the act of travel for the purpose of recreation, and the provision of services for this act. ...

Registration of converted and newly constructed vehicles

The ease of registration will vary by state. Some states require safety inspections, usually to ensure body integrity in areas subject to severe corrosion from winter road de-icing materials. In any case, for general registration all functional safety equipment should be operating - turn signals, brake lights, headlights, horn, etc. The windshield should have no running cracks (small stone chips and "stars" may be acceptable if not in the driver's principle line of vision) If the vehicle has been reconstructed from a salvage vehicle (a vehicles whose registration has been forfited) inspection may be more severe to ensure compliance.

Registration procedures will vary by state and will usually be more difficult (even bizarre) in states with strict emissions requirements (even though a plug-in only conversion will be a zero emission vehicle). Arguing with DMV staff is typically futile in all jurisdictions, but there may be appeal procedures available but whose availability may not be openly publicized.

California (US) conversion registration and taxation

Registration of a converted electric vehicle in California can be difficult. First, if the vehicle is custom built from components and salvage, only a limited number of such vehicles may be registered each year (as of 2008 this is 500 vehicles). Registration slots are usually gone on the first available day of the year and registration requires a "paper trail" on all salvage components, this to inhibit illegal vehicle "chop shop" operations. This article is about the slang phrase. ...

Nor is it possible to convert to electric power and register for on-road use a vehicle that would otherwise not qualify for registration (for example, certain subcompact "Kei_car" class trucks, four wheel sport "dirt" vehicles, and other utility vehicles are imported and sold for "off road" use only; these cannot qualify for registration except perhaps if a custom body is installed to allow its qualification under the custom manufacture rules outlined above. Some possiblity may exist for registering such a vehicle as a speed-limited neighborhood electric vehicle. The Daihatsu Cuore, a popular and typical kei car. ... A Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) is an American term for a speed limited battery electric vehicle (usually 25 miles per hour in the U.S.A.) restricted by law to operation on roads with speed limits not exceeding 35 MPH. Often such vehicles are not built from scratch but instead...

As all originally ICE radable automibiles and light trucks built after 1975 must pass a smog test (including a "visual inspection") a conversion of such a late model vehicle must be registered as an electric powered only vehicle and thus exempt, otherwise it would fail the required smog test, not for producing polution, but rather for being altered from its original configuration and so failing the visual inspection portion of the test.

It is no more simple if the vehicle is currently registered with current tags in California and may even be more difficult. Under new 2008 regulations for converted ICE vehicles a multi-step process is required. First, an appointment is made by telephone with a "Smog Referee". A meeting with the vehicle to be registered will typically be at a local junior college with an automotive shop program. The referee will inspect and certify that the vehicle is both smog exempt and that it qualifies for an "E" power code (electric only). The next step requires real-time coordination between a cooperative clerk at the local California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and an appropriate clerk at the Sacramento office. (These procedures are in place to inhibit fraudulant registration of ICE vehicles as Electric in order to avoid smog inspections.) If the computer terminals are not operated in a coordinated manner the registration propulsion code will default to "Q" (hybrid vehicle) which is not exempt from smog inspection and the conversion will always fail such an inspection. Unfortunately, once the computer has defaulted to the "Q" code it is necessary to re-engage the Smog Referee to obtain a new prospective "E" code. The ability to sucessfully register as an electric vehicle is highly dependant upon the cooperation of the staff at the local office, their experience with registering electric vehicles, their ability to coordinate with Sacramento, and their interest in assisting you. Some offices will be much more accomodating than others. Multiple trips to the DMV office and the Referee are typically required. Sacramento redirects here. ... For other types of hybrid transportation, see Hybrid vehicle (disambiguation). ...

Since no fuel or recharging taxes are collected the revenue that would otherwise be lost to the state is made up for with a substantial weight fee specific to electric vehicles. While light ICE vehicles are taxed on a refined and progressive grading scheme, electric vehicles with commercial licences are grouped into only a few broad catagories, with the result that even a modest and lightweight EV will pay the same tax as will a much heaver (up to 6000 lbs) EV.[6]

See also

For electric vehicles other than battery powered passenger automobiles, see electric vehicle. ... A coachbuilder is a manufacturer of bodies for carriages or automobiles. ... An engine swap is the process of removing a cars engine and replacing it with another; this is done either because of failure, or to install a different engine - more powerful, maybe more up to date and maintainable. ... In the case of vehicles, the term chassis means the frame plus the running gear like engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential, and suspension. ... Green tuned cars are cars that have been tuned to use initial or deeper alternative propulsion. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Venture capital is a general term to describe financing for startup and early stage businesses as well as businesses in turn around situations. ...


  1. ^ Vehicle analysis, pg 14 (PDF)
  2. ^ Titling - Homemade, Two-Stage or Reconstructed Vehicle
  3. ^ NYS DMV - (Brochure) Let the Buyer Be Aware
  4. ^ Energy Storage Fuel Cell Vehicle Analysis: Preprint
  5. ^ Glider Kits & Kit Vehicles
  6. ^ http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d03/vc9400.htm Weight Fees for Commercial Motor Vehicles with Declared Gross Vehicle Weight 10,000 lbs. or Less

External links

Wikibooks has more on the topic of
Electric vehicle conversion
Image File history File links Wikibooks-logo-en. ... Wikibooks logo Wikibooks, previously called Wikimedia Free Textbook Project and Wikimedia-Textbooks, is a wiki for the creation of books. ...

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