Still in the curiosity phase, the following Electric Car Conversion FAQ is designed to answer common question before the conversion is ever planned.
How much time does it take to convert?
For the hard labor this depends on several important factors: electrical experience, mechanical experience, proper planning, and proper shop and tools available. It's been estimated at about 200 hours, including design time. A prepared professional can perform a simple conversion in one day.
What do I need to study?
Our Learning Center is aimed at giving you all the conversion principles you will need to convert your own car. Nothing compares to actual experience, so try and find someone near you with a conversion that wants to talk about it. I can promise you that they WILL want to talk about it.
Is converting a car hard?
Yes and No. With sites like this one, and components like the PulsaR, it is much easier for the average Joe to perform a conversion than it was 2, 5, and especially 10 years ago. On the other hand, it requires more study and planning than most people recognize. Without proper study and planning it will be very, very hard.
What kind of car should I get to convert?
This is completely dependent on your needs/wants. Generally, a light aerodynamic car will have great range potential, whereas heavy classic cars require more batteries to get moving. Small trucks are common conversions, as they are easy to work with.
I have a nearly broken vehicle, can I convert that?
Sure you can, but it may not be the best conversion. It is often worth it in the long run to find, and buy a different car rather than using your current car solely because it is available. It certainly looks great to the neighbors to say that you have converted that old car you had, but it can cause a lot more headaches than it is worth.
What parts do I need?
Check out our Parts Checklist for a complete break down of parts for your car. Also check out the Parts FAQ do find out what they do.
How far/fast will my conversion go?
You can go as far, or fast as your vehicle budget allows. Check out our Driveline Calculator, and Battery Calculator to see where your vehicle stands.
How much does a conversion cost?
Conversions are built to the custom needs of the owner, so this is very difficult to answer. For a small, simple conversion with a modest range, this can be done for $13,000 to $16,000. For a larger vehicle with a longer range, start saving roughly $19,000 to $24,000.
Holy man! Couldn't I buy a brand new car for that price?
Yes, a brand new gasoline car.
Can I add a solar panel on the car to increase the range?
You can make a solar panel carport, which can absorb all day and charge the vehicle at night. But putting the panel on the car itself will produce a negligible increase in range.
Can I make my car go farther by adding a gas generator?
This is not recommended. Using an inefficient generator in order to power an electric car would subvert the efficiency, affordability, maintainability, simplicity, and quietness of the electric car. You may as well keep using a gas car.
Can I add a wind turbine, or a dynamo to make electricity as I drive?
No. Since moving the car is the goal, a wind turbine or dynamo consumes more energy in drag and friction than it could ever produce electrically.
Does a conversion keep the original transmission?
Usually, yes. Keeping the transmission allows for the vehicle to be used more efficiently, especially at high speeds. Other conversions yank the transmission in favor of a direct drive motor. This increases torque and performance, but limits the efficiency.
What about power brakes, power steering and air conditioning?
The gas engine provided power to these belt driven components in the past. We have electrically powered replacements.
What kind of batteries should I use?
There are two main types: Lead-Acid and Lithium. Lead Acid is cheaper, but heavier, messier, dies earlier, and requires more maintenance. Lithium is more expensive, but lighter, cleaner, lasts longer and requires no maintenance. Lithium is used in most conversions these days.
What motor should I use? What kind of controller?
The largest determinant of range and speed is the batteries. The motor and controller should be rated to handle the energy given to it from the batteries. First decide the batteries you'll need, then decide the controller and motor.
How do I decide the batteries I need?
Great question! The best tool for this is the Battery Calculator. After playing with this for a bit, measure the space available in your car, as this is a very important consideration.
How do I mount all of these components into the car?
This will require a great deal of ingenuity. Mounting components is covered later in our upcoming mounting guide.
How much will the car weigh when it's done?
On average, around the same as it did with the ICE parts inside. For this reason the original curb weight is used to make estimations on range, speed etc.
Will cold weather effect the car?
Yes. Cold weather slows the chemical stuff in the batteries, resulting in decreased range most notably. Just like a gas car, the counter to this is a warming plate or block heater.
Have more basic conversion questions? Send them to email@example.com