The Beginner's Guide to EV Conversion: What You Need to Know

You want to drive an EV, but you can’t wait for the automakers to catch up with your vision. You love your car and won’t compromise your style. You want to save money, save the planet, and have fun. You want to convert your car to electric. 

But how do you do it? How do you turn your gas-guzzler into a green machine? How do you go from ICE to EV?

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about converting your dream to reality. We’ll break down the key steps, costs, and benefits of converting your car to electric. 

Let’s start with the basics.

What is an EV conversion kit?

An EV conversion kit is a set of components that will replace your internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor and battery pack. A standard kit includes:

  1. An electric motor

  2. Controller/Inverter

  3. Battery pack

  4. Battery Management System

  5. Charger

  6. DC-DC converter

  7. Wiring harness

  8. Mounting bracket

  9. Throttle pedal

  10. EV gauges: autonomy/range and battery/motor temperature

Depending on the kit and package, you might find yourself with a few extra features like a regenerative braking system, a heating and cooling system, a power steering system, or a transmission adapter.

How to convert a car to electric?

The process of converting a vehicle to electric is actually fairly simple, but it requires skills, tools, and time. Here are the main steps:

  1. Choose a suitable donor car. If you’re looking to convert your car, you probably already love it deeply. Whether you want to DIY this project, or want someone to tune your car up like it’s royalty, you have tons of options. As long as it’s light, spacious, and in good shape, it can probably be done.

  2. Remove the ICE and related components. This includes the engine, the fuel tank, the exhaust system, radiator, alternator, starter. You may also need to remove the transmission, depending on the type of motor you choose. Perfect job for a gearhead.  

  3. Install the electric motor and the battery pack. Usually mounted on the original engine mounts, the electric motor uses a custom-made adapter plate (if you keep your manual transmission). The motor can be installed in the transmission tunnel, or transversally directly on the axle - there are also options for front, rear, or dual motors. The battery pack is usually installed in the trunk, under the hood, or under the seats. You may need to beef up your suspension and your brakes to handle the extra weight of the batteries, especially if you expect your build to have 200 miles of range or more. Weight distribution is key, too. The driving experience could be changed drastically if the weight distribution differs from the factory build. Most EV conversions will add a small amount of weight to your build, but since the weight distribution is better, the driving experience is too.

  4. The Battery Management System (BMS) is key. It monitors and controls the performance of the battery pack in an EV that has been converted from an ICE vehicle. Your BMS is not only crucial for the safety of the battery, but for ensuring its efficiency and longevity too. It measures the voltage, current, temperature, and state of charge (SoC) of each battery cell, and communicates this information to the driver or other control units. It regulates the cooling or heating of the battery depending on its optimal temperature range and to prevent thermal runaway. It protects the battery from short circuits, overcurrents, overvoltages, and other unexpected conditions that could damage the battery. Lastly, it manages the power conversion and management between the battery, the motor, and the charger, to optimize the efficiency and performance of the EV. So yes, extremely important.

  5. Connect the controller, charger, and other components. The controller is the brain of the motor, it regulates the power flow along with the battery pack. The charger does what its name suggests and recharges the battery from an external power source. The DC-DC converter steps the voltage from the battery pack down in order to power the 12V battery, which in turn powers accessories like the lights, wipers, horn, and radio. The high-voltage wiring harness serves as the nervous system of an EV, connecting all of the components and sensors. In the end, you’ll end up having two harnesses: the high-voltage harness, and the 12v wiring harness.

  6. Test and fine-tune the EV. Before you hit the road, you need to test for safety and efficiency. You may need to tweak the controller, the BMS, the alignment, tire pressure, or brake balance. 

How much does it cost to convert your vehicle to electric?

The final cost of the conversion depends on a few main factors. If you’re planning on DIYing the project and have all the tools and resources to do so, the project cost starts at around $5,000. 

The most expensive part of the conversion is the battery pack, which can account for up to 50% of the total cost. The most common type of batteries used for EV conversions is lithium-ion. Lithium-ion batteries are the most expensive, but they are also the lightest, the most compact, and the most efficient. For example, Tesla uses lithium ion batteries composed of thousands of cylindrical cells that store energy and are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle. 

DIYers will need up to $45,000 depending on the scale of the conversion and desired parts.

If you’re looking to have a professional EV conversion company perform the tune up, you’re looking at a starting price of around $40,000. 

Then, depending on the condition of the donor car, as well as the horsepower, torque, range, or other performance metrics you’re looking for, your build may cost up to $80,000 or more. This category of customer is who we service.


What are the benefits of electric vehicle conversion?


There are many benefits of converting your car to electric, other than guiding your timeless vehicle into the future with a gentle hand:

  1. Saving money on fuel, maintenance, and taxes. Fewer moving parts = less repairs. EVs also qualify for various incentives and rebates from the government and utility companies.

  2. Reducing your environmental impact. EVs use renewable energy sources and produce no harmful emissions.

  3. Most importantly, enhancing your driving experience. Instant torque, smooth acceleration, and quiet operation. Your EV will be a reflection of your tastes.

Not only is an EV conversion a testament to your style, it’s a win-win-win from all angles.

How to find the best EV conversion company for you?

If you decide to hire a professional EV conversion company to convert your car, you need to do some research and comparison before making your decision. Here are some tips on how to find the best company for your project:

  1. Check their credentials and reputation. Look for a company that has a valid license, insurance, and certification to perform EV conversions. While you’re at it, make sure they have a strong track record and positive reviews.
  2. Check their portfolio and experience. You want a professional and impressive job done on your car. Make sure the company doing your conversion has a diverse and impressive portfolio. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, samples, and case studies of previous and current projects.
  3. Check their services and prices. Look for a company that can give you a transparent and comprehensive breakdown of the service you’re going to receive. You’ll want a package including a consultation, design, installation, testing, and warranties.

Transforming your old, beloved ICE car into a new and modern EV is not only a way to extend its life, but also one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. However, it's not a simple or easy task. It requires a lot of work, money, and time. That's why Fuel2Electric is here to help you find the right team for your project, and to ensure that your experience is realistic, affordable, and smooth. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional conversion company, we hope this article has helped you make the best decision for your future EV. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact us. And remember, happy driving.

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