charadeWhile many areas of America aren’t suited to the limited range and lack of charging infrastructure, it is nothing in comparison to Australia’s outback, where there could be hundreds of miles between filling stations. But even in Australia, DIYers and small shops are converting old cars into short-range EVs as petrol prices continue to rise.

As it stands, there are only a handful of electric vehicles for sale in Australia, including the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Tesla Roadster, and Renault Fluence ZE. The Chevy Volt is also sold in Oz as a Holden, but that’s it. Also, Australia imports all of these EVs, jacking up the price of the Nissan Leaf to $39,999, or about $36,000 in U.S. dollars. Not cheap.

So many Aussies have turned to EV conversion shops like EVworks or using websites like quicksales, an Australian version of craigslist, to buy and sell cheap EV parts to perform their own conversions. Many of the conversions are performed on older Aussie classics, like the Ford Capri, as well as more familiar vehicles like the Mazda Miata and Volvo 960. People like John Williams, who runs, have managed to convert cars like the Daihatsu Charade into electric cars on a budget.

With gas prices in Australia averaging over $6 a gallon, a cheap EV conversion can deliver 40 or 50 miles of driving for about $4 per charge, better cost efficiency than any conventional car. Young people are especially drawn to the cheap nature of DIY EV conversions which, even at $10,000 to $20,000 per car, still end up cheaper than a new car like the Nissan Leaf.

Even the Land Down Under is going electric; EVs seem unstoppable now.

Image: John Williams

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