The ‘ready-made’ electric cars and electric vehicles that are available right now, are, for the most part, rather impressive things, whether you opt for a tiny little car like the rather cute SMART, a mid size option like the Nissan Leaf, a luxury sedan such as the Tesla S or even a sports car like the Tesla Roadster.
However, believe it or not the majority of the electric cars that are on the road at the moment are what you might call “home brew” cars. These are traditional, gas powered, internal combustion engine equipped cars of all shapes, sizes and models that have been converted, usually in someone’s backyard, into lean, clean electric machines.
These electric car conversions have, in many ways, become the latest car conversion craze. It is not the easiest thing in the world to do for sure, but neither is it complete rocket science that is totally beyond anyone without a decade’s experience as an auto mechanic. Knowing your way around an engine in general will certainly help, but there are also a lot of resources, especially on the Internet, to help guide you.
Usually such a conversion makes use of a DC motor and DC controller. The car’s owner is left to decide at just what voltage they want the system to operate at, which usually ranges anywhere from 96 and 192 volts. They are also left to figure out just what batteries and charger to use as well, and the battery options can range from golf-cart batteries to marine deep-cycle lead-acid batteries. You also need a ‘donor’ car as well of course, a gas powered car that you are OK with the idea of gutting.
A typical gas to electric conversion usually costs somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 not including the cost of the car that is going to be converted. Usually the breakdown would look something like this:
Batteries – $1,000 to $2,000
Motor – $1,000 to $2,000
Controller – $1,000 to $2,000
Adapter plate – $500 to $1,000
Other (motors, wiring, switches, etc.) – $500 to $1,000
In comparison, a new SMART car starts at $17,890, the Nissan Leaf at $21,000 and the Tesla S at $69,000, although in all cases there are considerable tax breaks and rebates available that do bring that price down.
It is usually not to save money that motivates those who choose to create a conversion car. It is a matter of pride, much as in the way it is to give a car a special paint job or different components to change its look.