The electric car has certainly received a lot more attention lately, with the rising cost of gas. A little known fact is that you can do your own electric car conversion, without having to spend a small fortune, if you learn the basics. Let me break it down for you in 5 simple steps. The first thing you need to do is decide on what type of car you are going to convert to electric. Smaller cars usually work out best, because they are lighter and take less energy to power them. You do want to check to make sure the car you’ve chosen can handle the extra load of the batteries. Depending on what style of battery you choose, this extra weight could be up to 1500 lbs. Checking on the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) will tell you how much weight you can safely add. The GVWR can usually be found on the inside door panel.
Next in the process is deciding what type of motor you are going to use. You have two choices DC or AC motors. AC motors are more expensive than DC motors, so we will go with the DC type since you can also find these motors at bargain prices sometimes even free, more on that later. You will need at least a 9 inch Series DC motor, a larger one is even preferred.
Once you have the motor, you’ll need a motor controller. Motor controllers basically control the speed of the motor, by taking the battery power and modulating(pulsing) the voltage to the motor at a certain rate. This modulation adjusts the speed the motor turns at, and the control signals to the controller come from a device know as a pot box, which takes the place of the gas pedal linkage in your car. So now when you press down on the gas pedal, you are moving the position of the pot box, which in turn sends the information back to the controller so it can set the motor speed.
Whew!! Too much information??? Don’t worry, it sounds more complex than it really is. The next step is to choose your electric car battery and how many you can fit into your car. Typical deep cycle batteries, which is the type you need to use, weigh in at about 65-75 lbs each. Getting back to the GVWR, will tell you how many batteries you can safely install. A typical installation will generally require at least 15 to 20 batteries.
The next decision you need to make is how are you going to power your accessories. You know like the headlights, radio etc. Since these used to be powered by the alternator charging the battery, you can either install an alternator off of the new electric motor drive, or you can setup a separate dc to dc converter to charge an accessory 12 volt battery to power everything. All that’s left now is to just put everything together and voila, you have just completed your first electric car conversion.