Electric Car Conversion Kits Explained

Ever wondered about converting your car into an electric car? Is it even possible? Believe it or not, some people do convert gas cars into electric ones themselves.

Many people depend on cars for transportation. If you have a lengthy commute to work or live in a rural area without public transit, owning a car is vital. But cars, along with industries, are one of the two largest sources of air pollution, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Emissions from cars contribute to a great deal to climate change. An electric car conversion kit could be your solution.

In a report entitled “Plugged In,” the WWF states that electric cars “can dramatically reduce the crude oil dependency of automotive transport in a highly efficient and sustainable manner.”

Electric car conversion kit
CC flickr photo courtesy of rezanaghibi

“Electric vehicles still need energy,” they continue, “and that energy today comes mostly from fossil fuels,” meaning plugging an electric car into the power grid. “However, the electric powertrain is up to four times more efficient than its conventional mechanical counterpart. Electric vehicles can deliver an overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, electric vehicles can contribute to improving urban air quality and reduce noise levels.”

If you want to save money on rising gas costs, or reduce your carbon footprint, you may want to consider converting your car to an electric car. This can be accomplished with some technical know-how and an electric car conversion kit.

What is an electric conversion kit?

An electric conversion kit will consist of a battery pack, one or more electric motors, a charger (that provides electricity to your batteries), a power controller (which regulates the flow of electricity between your batteries and motors), electric throttle (which controls the power controller), conductors to wire these components together, and some additional equipment such as a heating/cooling system and electric-powered brakes.

What batteries should I choose?

The battery you want is rechargeable and the lightest and highest-performing that you’re willing to pay for. Some varieties include:

  • Lead-acid – These are the most common and cheapest batteries out there. You already have one in your car. It starts your motor. Although they are heavy and large, they have a good power-to-weight ratio.
  • Absorption Glass Mat – This is a a self-contained lead-acid battery commonly found in newer cars, motorcycles and electric wheelchairs. Due to their construction, they are vibration-resistant and offer more power for their size than regular lead-acid batteries.
  • Nickel-metal hydride (NIMH) – A subsidiary of Chevron owns the patent to these batteries and effectively kept them from being used in the commercial electric cars that were being produced in the late 1990s. The NiMH battery was the power source at the center of the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Common versions of this battery are old familiars the AA, C and D batteries sold at stores everywhere. But for your purposes we need something much bigger, and you won’t find much. Old Toyota Prius batteries can be found on E-Bay, if this is the way you want to go.
  • Lithionum-ion (Li-ion) – Small lithium-ion batteries are found in most consumer electronics. The larger, rechargable types are often the highest-performing and priciest option for those converting their cars to electric power. Due to the technical necessities of this battery, a more detailed battery control system is necessary, as Li-ion batteries experience difficulties when used in high-current applications (such as powering a car).

What kind of car should I convert?

Some cars work better as EVs (electric vehicles) than others. Currently, high-performance sports cars perform better with gas engines, or as hybrids, although many sports cars work well at low speeds with electric conversions. If you want to stay below 70 mph and drive a solid-performing, but slower-accelerating vehicle, you’ll save money (and emissions).

Any vehicle that is low-weight and provides enough room for electrical components is a good candidate. Economy and compact sedans and coupes take conversion well, as do light trucks. Full-size trucks and SUVs are heavy and less aerodynamic, but they do have the cargo space to hold a lot of batteries.

If you are tenacious and want to convert your car yourself, you won’t be the first. You could also pay an electric car hobbyist mechanic to do the conversion for you, if you can find one near where you live.

Electric conversion kits of all varieties can be found at Electroauto.com. There are numerous message boards on the web where car-converting hobbyists go to ask questions and swap knowledge. One good example is diyelectriccar.com. One great site maintained by a female electric car enthusiast is electric-cars-are-for-girls.com.

One thought on “Electric Car Conversion Kits Explained”

  1. Great work
    but the system you do has a limit work we can’t do it in endustry or hard transport ,
    i have modurate this system it us18 years a go & i know how it work & i have all ready
    a new system witch can be the future autonom energy system working on same base
    but it’s more complicate ‘this new system is on paper it us more than 15 years ‘ it’s possible
    to make it working i the US and change with it the economic balance & earth safety ;
    THE system consist in the union of electromotorwith an electrogeneratator at the same time
    in a 3rd rotating movement (motor /gener/moto) in a close cycle for more information contact me

Comments are closed.