Many people have converted their own vehicle to electric car. It requires the least amount of money but the most amount of your time. A typical conversion can take 150-300 hours. There are a number of advantages to doing your own conversion. First, you have control of the project (the converted vehicle and the components selected); second, you have the ability to diagnose, troubleshoot, and repair any problems quickly. However, there are many choices when building an electric car so get ready.

Build Your Own Electric Vehicle
Build Your Own Electric Vehicle

Choosing a Chassis

When you do an electric car conversion, you have many chassis choices for your vehicle: small car, sports car, compact car, crossover, SUV, and small trucks. Whatever vehicle you choose for your electric car, you should pick a car that you personally like.

Why spend $10,000 and approximately 200 hours on a car that you do not like. This is a vehicle you want to proudly show off.

Choosing the Electric Drive System For Your Electric Car

What vehicle to convert


You have additional choices of an AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current) drive systems. Typically, AC systems are higher voltages and give faster performance, but they may cost 2-3 times more than a simpler and proven DC system.

The Needs Of Your Electric Car

To help you make the best decisions, it is necessary to first identify your requirements. Are you looking for a small commuter vehicle for yourself or do you need an in-town vehicle for a small family? The number of people, performance, and range are all basic considerations.

How Much Do You Have To Spend On Your Electric Car?

The cost of the drive system is directly related to your requirements. Therefore, if you are on a limited budget, it is critical to distinguish between “requirements” and “desires.” Many people want the 0-60 mph in four seconds and the 300 mile range on their electric car. However, the price to pay remains the question. While some will charge $150,000 there are others (for the same job) who would charge less than $100,000 and you will have a safe electric car.

Source: Build Your Own Electric Vehicle, 2nd Edition by Seth Leitman and Bob Brant.

How Do You Want To Build That Electric Car?

There are so many different ways to build an electric car.

They are:
  1. Buy the conversion from an electric vehicle conversion shop.
  2. Build a custom electric vehicle (specifically for you). Kinda “go where no one has gone before.”
  3. Build an electric vehicle from plans. Popularly they are the three-wheeled electric vehicle with fiberglass-over-foam core body.
  4. Those infamous kit cars that are great electric vehicles. One of the EV’s I wrote about in the book was the Bradley GT II car, of which there are several versions around on the market today.
  5. To convert an existing vehicle is the best approach (in my opinion). You recycle an existing car (hopefully an older one so that you are displacing a lot of emissions) and update the inside, paint job and exterior. Make it your car. You know. Own it.

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