Electric Car Conversions Step by Step Guide

  1. Remove the Gas burning Accessories the engine, gas tank, exhaust system and the radiator from the donor vehicle. Most controllers are air-cooled but if yours is fluid cooled you might have to keep your radiator (or install some other cooling method)

    HINT: Sell your gas engine and parts you don't neet to a local auto parts supplier. This can offset the cost of your conversion by thousands of dollars

    CAUTION! It's very important to have your gas tank drained completely before using power tools in your garage. Remember an empty tank is much more dangerous than a full tank because it produces explosive vapors. YES, people drove around for centuries with a bomb mounted under their car!

  2. Choose an option for connecting your gears:

    MANUAL TRANSMISSION: The torque produced by electric motors is generally much higher than gas engines. For this reason your electric motor will probably need a reduction gear for maximum efficiency. Another option may be to pin the existing manual transmission in first or second gear. If you don't like driving with a stick don't worry. The nicest thing about converting a gas burning car with to electric is that you don't need to clutch all the time. The motor does not spin while at rest so you don't need to sit there with your clutch pedal to the floor. While driving your e-conv most people rarely shift gears at all, you can pick a gear and keep it there all day.

    AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION: Automatic transmissions are very sophisticated and shift gears with an intricate combination of science and mechanisms that can truly been regarded as magic. There are several new AT's available specifically for use in electric conversions. Although these systems are very expensive the overall feedback from drivers is that they are well worth the added expense. (
    See our Consultation System )

  3. Install an an adapter plate to connect the transmission and the motor. Every motor requires a custom adaptor plate which can be designed using your existing motor and transmission. Some people try to make their own adaptors but if you don't have the proper machining tools it can be very difficult. Your adaptor plate can be easily machined by an auto part fabrication service using industry specifications, templates for mounting brackets etc. (There are machine shops popping up all over who will offer this service to people doing conversions - See our Consultation System )

  4. Choose an option for connecting your reverse gear:

    MANUAL DC CONFIGURATION: Electric cars using DC motors can simply use the reverse gear built into the manual transmission.

    MANUAL AC CONFIGURATION: AC systems with advanced controllers simply run the motor in reverse. You can mount a reverse switch on your dash board, or even into your existing steering wheel lever or console shift lever that will send a signal to the controller.

  5. Mount the controller. The controller is basically like a big volume knob on a stereo. Simply put, it produces electric "waves" that tell the motor how many revolutions per minute it should be revolving. Controllers differ in features, price and compatability. Consult a parts dealer for the proper controller for your converted car.

  6. Mount the BATT-BOX which is the compartment where your batteries will be stowed: Finding space for your batteries is always tricky. In the old days conversions required 12 to 20 or more large lead acid batteries that weighed too much for their usefull charges. Today with smaller more powerfull lithium batteries it's getting easier to find one place under your hood, back seat or other area of the car to mount your power storage. You can build an aluminum batt-box with brackets to safely hold, all the batteries. Some batteries must be mounted standing up, others can be turned on their sides and even be mounted upside down and fitted into all sorts of small spaces within the vehicle compartments.

    It's a good idea to wear protective unsulated gloves while handling batteries. We've heard there's so much voltage in these systems you can accidentally arc weld a wrench to your cars' frame.


    HINT: Batteries are expensive and are at tisk of being stolen. Don't mount your batteries in any place visible and accessible outside your cars protected compartments. Never mount your batteries under your car or in a wheel well in a spot that will pick up excessive road grundge.

  7. Wire the batteries and motor to the controller with heavy gauge electrical cables.

    NOTE: We know at this stage you are still thinking about range and speed but trust us, after your electric car is zooming down the street people will be constantly asking you to show your conversion. Try to wire your system neatly and as transparent as possible. There's nothing worse than an e-conv that looks like a bowl of spaghetti.

  8. If the car has power steering: mount and wire into your system an electric motor for the power steering pump. Power steering systems for e-convs are availble. ( See our Consultation System )

  9. If the car has air conditioning: mount and wire into your system an electric motor for the A/C compressor. ( See our Consultation System )

    PAINFUL FACT: Air conditioners suck a lot of power and will reduce your effective range . They are a great luxury so we highly recomend installing them. Besides, as battery technology is evolving you will probably be updating your batteries to go hundreds of more miles per charge sooner than you think!

  10. Choose on option for a heater:

    CERAMIC: GOOD! Install a small ceramic electric space heater and a auto heater fan into your existing ventilation ducts. These units warm up quicker than fluid systems and are more efficient.

    FLUID: OK Small electric water heaters can be plumbed into the existing heater core of older vehicles. But, in general your car will be state-of-the-art, don't make your comfort systems 1950's.

  11. If the car has power brakes: Install a vacuum pump to operate the brake booster. ( See our Consultation System )

    HINT: When you power up your e-conv car your brake pump will fire up for about 5 seconds. This is done to prime the cylinder. Some people find this a little distracting so you might want to mount it away from the firewall or into an enclosed box with sound insulation ( check the manufacturer's specs to be sure your mounting choice is ok )

  12. Install your electric car sound system. No, this is not your stereo and speakers. This is the system that will produce a sound while your car is driving. This is done for safety so that pedestrians and animals hear you coming. New services are going to be creating some very interesting options for sounds. You can make your e-conv sound like a Ferrari, Porsche, or even an F-16... We can't wait to hear the creativity out there. But don't go overboard! ( See our Consultation System )

  13. Install your car's internal recharging system: Make sure to mount your charging system in a place that has air flow to keep it cool and so that it is easy to service. Not because they are prone to problems but because chargers are evolving rapidly and it's a sure bet you will be installing a more efficienttcharger in the future.

  14. It's time to choose your e-conv's home charging system. This is the unit you mount in your garage that you will plug your car into to "fill her up". Home chargers can be 110 volts or 220 volts. The advantage of a 220 volt system is your recharge time will be almost half that of a 110 volt. However, it is very convenient to have a 110 volt system so that you can carry an extension cord in your car and plug in anywhere for a "quick partial recharge".

    BE SAFE! Make sure you sellect a UL rated charging system that is insulated and provides protection from fire should it fail. Mount it on a safe wall in your garage away from your home's structure. Also, if you park a gas car in your garage pick a spot for your charger away from the gas intake of that car. Do a "fire time test". Fire generally spreads 10 to 20 feet in the 3 to 5 minutes before the fire fighters arrive. Losing half your garage is unfortunate, losing half your home is catastrophic!

    HINT: Purchase a charing system that has a timer. This will make it possible for you to charge your car after peak usage hours (usually 10 pm to 6 am) This will save you THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS over the coming years. Your local power company may even have special "electric car charging rates" and special incentives to save you even more money! They like having customers buying non-peak units of electricity.

    GO GREENER: Many people who convert their cars (or buy electric cars) do so to get off the grid. Install a solar system that will recharge your e-conv car and truly enjoy driving on sunrays not dollar biills! This comes in handy when you are at a party and a "gas fan" tells you "your power company is burning coal and oil to make electricity so you just have a larger tail pipe". Although power company generators are vastly more efficient than 10 billion gas motors they are correct. The future will be every electric car on solar, not only on garage roofs but eventually the paint on your car will be photovoltaic... Imagine that! Having your electric car sitting in your parking space all day charging itself! This is where we're going... And, by converting your car today you are taking a vital step toward a cleaner world!

    Back to your car...

  15. Install a DC-to-DC converter to power one accessory battery. Your car's lighting, signals, electric seats, stereos, gps units etc will still require standard 12 volt current. This battery will run your accessories and not draw upon your power storage batteries.

  16. Install some sort of volt meter into your dashboard to act as your "electric power gas guage". This is a part of your e-conv that you will stare at every time you drive and people will judge you on how well you incorporate your guages into your dash so make it look "stock". Don't get lazy. It looks weak when people have funky round guages screwed into their dashes. ( There are some very nice digital guages available that help you manage your power system. See our Consultation System )

  17. Install an electric car accelerator: These will include a potentiometer(s), cables and connectors that should be compatable with your specific controller. Link these to your existing pedal and connect to the controller.

    BE CAREFUL TO INSTALL THIS EXACTLY TO RECOMENDED SPECS There are some vital safety issues concerning accelerators and other systems in your e-conv that have no room for error. A run away pedal can be a quick end to your days of enjoying driving.

  18. Install a main power switch on your dashboard This connects to a relay (also known as a contactor) in your system and is how you turn the car on when you want to drive it. You will need a relay that is rated to handle the amperage and voltage loads of your system. Wire this into your system so that it will turn on all the new equipment, including the contactor, controller, accessory battery, etc. Get creative. It's very nice to have this switch incorporated into your existing key or security system so that you can protect your car from theft.

  19. Install a large red cut-off switch on your dashboard in plain view that will be wired to a relay that will disconnect the battery storage system from the controller should the controller fail and accelerate out of control. This does not happen often (if ever) but as a precaution this is required by law in most areas.


    Perform a checklist of all the components. Make sure your ignition switch is in the OFF position and the parking brake is set. Take a moment and imagine what would happen if the car took off like a jet fighter off an aircraft carrier. Make sure people are standing out of the way!

  21. Perform a suspended test of your new electric car. Put your car up on jacks (on the power wheels) and get in and test the drive systems and all the accessories. MAKE SURE TO TEST THE CUT -OFF SWITCH SEVERAL TIMES. Become comfortable with the idea of turning off your car.

  22. YOU'RE DONE!!! NOW, TAKE A 20 YEAR DRIVE! You know you can't foresee most of the aspects of driving an electric car until you are actually doing it. There is something amazing about creating a clean, non-polluting vehicle that has transformed a gas burning (and cash burning) vehicle into a state-of-the-art electric car.

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are now the one-in-a-million person who actually did something to end the evils of our petroleum based society. You are no longer contributing to worldwide deficits, wars caused by oil cartels, paying money into gas pumps that are supporting anarchistic regiemes that hoard billions of dollars and brain wash thier poor citizens, you're reducing the number of people who will die of lung cancers, helping people with asthma breathe, opposing skyrocketing gas prices, food prices, etc.

    Overall, there is something to be said for a person who just doesnt sit around and complain about the problems in the world... YOU MADE A CHANGE!!!

    PLEASE send us a photo and the specs for your car and post it in our OWNERS CARS section. And, if you get really good at doing these conversions BECOME A CONVERSION SHOP. We will be adding hundreds of shops all around the world as electric conversion franchises. We intend to be the "Jiffy Lube" of electric conversions. We will offer people who do not want to convert their own cars a service that will take their dinosaur gas burning car on Monday morning and return it on Friday afternoon fully electric!

    Ok, enough of this rhetoric, go enjoy driving really slow by your local gas stations...

  Return to Help  

View More ElectricCars.com Information

Layout, design & Content Copyright © 1997-2011 ElectricCars.net. All Rights Reserved Terms of Usage

electric conversions, electric, car, cars, auto, automobiles, solar, zebra, trucks, sports car, free, demos, videos, Electrectric cars, car, ford, dodge, honda, toyota, hybrid, gm ev, gm, ev, alt