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A conversion electric vehicle is a car which has been converted from an internal combustion engine (ICE) drive to an electric propulsion drive vehicle. The conversion EV is the most widespread form of electric vehicle on the road today.

One reason the conversion is so popular among EV enthusiasts (aside from the relative lack of economical production electric vehicles) is the possibility of recycling an ICE car which has otherwise outlived its useful life. Another has to do with the fact that the scratchbuilt EV must incorporate the plethora of complex features normally available ready-made on a conversion candidate vehicle: the drive system, all of the mandated safety features, creature comforts, product design, and the frame itself.

Almost any small, compact ICE vehicle in good structural condition can form the basis for a successful EV conversion. The first step in the process is to remove all of the systems related solely to the gas powered engine drive system: the engine itself, the starter motor, the fuel tank, exhaust pipes, muffler, and cooling system (radiator).

The major components of the electric propulsion system consist of an electric motor, batteries, a charger, and a controller. Additionally, various items of support hardware are required, including connectors (wiring), safety devices (fuses), monitoring devices, and interface hardware (such as the adaptor plate).

The items necessary for a conversion can be purchased separately or in kit form. In some cases, the kits which are available are specifically tailored to the type of vehicle. In any case, the component parts must work well together as a system.

Cost for a Sample Conversions

In general, any small car can be converted / recycled to electric drive. Essentially all the complex systems such as the "exhaust system", "cooling system", "fuel delivery system", and motor are replaced with the following:

An Advanced DC electric motor connected to the existing standard transmission via an adaptor plate. Motor $1450. Adaptor Plate $700.

Electronic transistorized controller (like a giant light dimmer) controls your power and speed. By Curtis-PMC $1200. or the more powerful ZILLA controllers from $2000. to $4000 If your going RACING !!

Battery charger, fully automatic. Plug it in and walk away for days without harm to the batteries. from $900. OR from our very own MANZANITA MICRO high powered chargers from $2000 to $2900.

Batteries, 10 - 12 volt, 0r 20 - 6 volt, deep cycle lead acid totaling 120 volts. Choice is one of maximum acceleration or maximum range. $1950. Sets of lighter, more powerful Lithium batteries can run any where from $8000. to $20,000.

On/Off power relays, h.d. fuses, h.d. connectors, battery cables, volt meter (measures pressure) and an ammeter (to measure to flow or use of the electricity) $1,200.

Total hardware $8,500. to $25,000. Assembly and labor (approximately 200 hours) $5,000. to $10,000.

Approximate grand is really too difficult to pin down. Variables exist from car to car as to total labor. There are various upgrades available in equipment and instrumentation to customize the car to the customers liking. * Prices subject to changes without notice by suppliers.


The regulations for licensing your converted vehicle vary from state to state. Wikipedia reports, for instance, that registration in California might be the hardest part in your conversion. Users in Washington state, however, report that it merely requires a visit to a licensing office and a $15 fee.

It would be helpful for people to report additional experiences here....

Local Conversions

Annotated On-line References

  • The EV Photo Album is an excellent place to learn all about the range, performance, components used, and types of vehicles that have been converted. There are many types of cars, trucks, bikes, boats, and even vehicles that defy description to check out. More than 800 entries and rising weekly. Details on conversions
  • The Electric Vehicle Discussion List is an extremely active list which contains a wealth of valuable information about electric vehicles. Take the time to search the archives! You can really get an education on the subject here. Just a small sampling of the folks you will find on the EV Discussion List: Many folks that are doing or have done their own conversions. Some have been driving EVs for decades. Most all the folks who... sell EV parts, design EVs, build custom EVs and do conversions, are on this list. Also... most of the EV drag racers are there, as are the folks who design and manufacture the best and most powerful motor controllers, motors, and chargers.
  • Converting a 1996 Saturn, by Ken Norwick - of Calgary, Alberta Canada. Over 200 pages describing a complete electric vehicle conversion project. Hundreds of images document the process in complete detail. This site receives visitors from between 8 to 16 time zones per day. The largest personal EV Conversion Diary on the Internet today.
  • Yve's EV Calculator with charts and graphs on Dozens of the most commonly used EV batteries and EV motors . Also a fantastic EV Calculator program, where you can punch in the type of car, motor, batteries, operating parameters and get a feeling for performance and range expectations.

See Also

  • - Wikipedia
    Welcome to Greenflight EV! This blog is dedicated to the conversion of my 1988 Mazda B2200 pickup to 100% battery electric power. My name is Andrew. I'm 16 years old, and I've always had an interest in vehicles of any kind. I also have a "do more with less" attitude, and a concern for what the petroleum industry is doing to our society and our environment. I want to show how easy it is to convert to electric, and how practical these vehicles are for everyday driving.