How long does it take to convert a car to electric?
There are to kind of conversion times, from one week to two years. If you already have all the components, the donor car and the adapter plate, working 8 hours a day you could have it in a week. However, just selecting the components, the testing phase, designing some parts and just working some week ends, you can spend one or more years.
Are there any technical or special skills needed?
Honestly, you will need a bit of courage, spare time and some basic knowledge about electricity and mechanics. As we are dealing with high voltage curents, minimum knowledge in electrical techniques and security is a must. If don’t have them, just start reading, research and ask anyone who knows about it.
What kind of vehicle is right to be converted?
Any vehicle is the right vehicle. But it is much simpler to start with a small car. A Renault Twingo, Volkswagen Polo, Mini, Ford Ka, etc.
If I have a broken vehicle , Can I convert it?
Take into account, that what you are going to re-use is the chassis, the interior, the break system and in many cases the gearbox. So if what is broken is the engine or any of its components, then, it ll be perfect.
What components do I need?
The first thing you are going to need is a donor vehicle, a vehicle to convert. Then you will need 4 basic components: an electric motor, a controller, an adapter plaque for the gearbox and a bunch of batteries. A part from that you will need connectors, high voltage cables, contactors, a big potentiometer, etc.
How much is going to cost the conversion of my car?
If you use second hand components, like motors and controllers from forklifts, second hand batteries form boats, etc, you can spend from 2000€ to 3000€. However, using brand new components it may be from 10.000€ to 15.000€
Well, I can buy a brand new car for that money!
Yes you can, a diesel or petrol car.
What speed would take mi car once converted?
There are cars with basic motors that can go up to 60 or 70 km/h, and other with big one could reach 160km/h easy. A car with a 700Kg curb weight and a 15 Kw electric motor could reach the speed of 90 Km/h with no problem.
Range. How much distance could I travel with it in a full charge?
This is the one million dollars question. The more batteries , the more you can travel. For the previous example, an AGM battery block of 100 Ah could give you around 60 kms. On the other hand in Slovenia, they converted a Mazda 5 with a block of LiFePo batteries (356 V, 240 Ah) and they did more than 700 kms.
Could I add solar panels to the car to increase the range?
Yes you could, but you could increase it by 1 or 2 kms. It is not worth it.
And what about a petrol generator?
This technology is changing. There are now small generators capable of producing enough electrical power to move a small motor. But, weren’t we talking about converting a car to 100% electric?
Do we keep the original car transmission?
Yes, one of the big advantages of converting a car to electric is the reuse of the transmission and other components.
And what about the servo breaks?
For breaks there are small 12V vacuum pumps that consume very little power and helps the breaking even better than the original system.
What kind of motor should I choose for the conversion?
You can use a second hand DC motor, but although is cheaper, is not very efficient. Nowadays, the ideal motor is the AC induction motor, they are a good balance between price and efficiency. A 15 Kw or 20 Kw motor should be perfect for a small city car.
But what is going on with batteries?. How many do I need to install?
Well, here, more than an answer we could write a book. In fact, batteries are the most delicate and important component in terms of price, range, degradation, etc. of a electric car. As an example, with 1000€ (in 2014) you could have a block of AGM batteries for 50 Kms, while with 4000€ you can have a Lithium batteries block for 200Kms.
But then, the car will weight a lot more. Isn’t ?
Yes. Gel or AGM batteries weight a lot, but they are cheaper, while Lithium ones weight half and cost four times more.
I live in a place with freezing temperatures, Will my electric car work?
In places with low temperatures you will need to thermo-isolate the batteries and to install a heating system for it. Lithium batteries are very sensible to temperatures and for their maximum efficiency the need around 25º C. At less than 5º C you should not charge them.