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How Much Does an EV Conversion Cost?

How Much Does an EV Conversion Cost?
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Have you ever considered turning a gas-guzzler into an all-electric vehicle (EV)? How much do you know about EV conversion cost? Let’s take a look at the basics and see if we can avoid some common pitfalls that come with the process.

It’s just sitting there. Collecting dust. Taking up space in your garage. You promised your wife you would either start working on it or get rid of it but the weekends just keep slipping by. I get it. I’ve been there, friend. The old car that I was going to bring new life to was a 1979 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. It got about 8 miles to the gallon and sputtered a bit when I turned the ignition off. I bought it for $1,000 and convinced myself that I could spend a couple grand on it and make it shine.

Image result for cadillac 72 coupe deville

As much as I loved that car, I soon realized that it was going to take more time, effort, and money than I had to fix it up. I don’t regret buying that car. I drove it for a while and had fun trying (and failing spectacularly) to work on it myself. For all the kooky plans that I had for the Caddy, the thought of turning it into an all-electric vehicle (EV) never even crossed my mind. A Cadillac EV? Now THAT would be wild! While it may not be a good idea to try and convert a land-boat like the Coupe de Ville, EV conversions can most certainly be done.

Old vs. New

Believe it or not, you will save yourself time and money if you choose a smaller, older car to convert. Newer cars almost always have intricate computer components to control the various systems within the car. They are also heavier on average than your older, smaller cars. By choosing an older, smaller car that doesn’t weigh as much, you will save money on batteries. The lighter the car, the less battery power it needs to make it go!

Another option to consider is to find an older low-budget electric car and upgrading it instead of trying to convert a gas-powered car. According to Rebbl.com, several automakers released low-budget electric cars in the years between 1990 and 2005. These cars can often be found on car auction sites like eBay, Copart, or Abetterbid. We mentioned these websites in our study of what to consider when buying a salvage Tesla. Why not buy one of these and swap out the old lead acid battery for a newer lithium-ion battery? That, a paint job, and some new upholstery and you got yourself a (kind of) brand new ride!

Range Considerations

When considering how far you want your car to go on a single charge, there is a principle that will always ring true: the more range, the more money you will pay. What will you be using this car for? Will it be a daily commuter that you drive 10 miles a day or do you want to use it for road trips? A new lithium-ion battery with a 40 mile or so range will cost you around $2,000. A battery that gets you in the 175 mile range will cost over $10,000. While battery costs continue to shrink, that’s no small chunk of change. Please also take into consideration the fact the more expensive your battery, the more expensive the battery connections and cables will be. It can all add up very fast!

It is possible to buy used lithium-ion batteries that come on the market as a result of the car being totaled or bankruptcy from time to time. This can be a great way to keep costs down on your project, but buyer beware: there are no warranties if you go this route. What you see is what you get and companies that sell salvage batteries do not give refunds. Always check the various forums and blogs devoted to EVs and EV conversions for real-world testimonials from people who have purchased from these companies before pulling the trigger.

Image result for electric car battery

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Here’s where the rubber meets the road so to speak. How handy and mechanically inclined are you? Are you unafraid of a little work or do you spend your days loafing around on the couch like I do? If you’re willing to take on the task yourself, you can save BIG bucks by doing the work yourself. This approach is not without risk, however. As we here at enrg.io have we’ve mentioned previously,  roughly 90% of all conversions and/or restorations of any kind are never fully completed. I can tell you from experience that you must be motivated to take on a project like this!

Hiring someone to do the work for you will ensure that the project does get completed but…it’s going to cost you. On the cheap end of the scale, you can expect to pay a pro north of $25,000 to convert your old car into an EV. A tried and true professional EV conversion company like Zelectric Motors will charge you over $50,000 for the job. Please understand that this isn’t a put down and I am definitely not accusing them of being a rip-off. They have completed countless conversions and guarantee their work, unlike other companies that shall remain nameless. If you have the money and aren’t afraid to spend it, I would highly recommend them for your project. Even if you’re broke, check out this awesome profile of Zelectric Motors from TheVerge.com…hey, a guy can dream can’t he?

Get to the Point!

In summation and in a weak attempt at answering the question put forth in the title of this article, an ev conversion cost will more than likely cost you $10,000 minimum if you already have the car and are willing to do the work yourself. For professional jobs you can expect to spend at least $25,000 on the cheap end and the sky’s the limit if you’re willing to spend more. Whatever you decide, we here at enrg.io wish you nothing but success with your EV conversion.

I would love to hear from our readers about their experiences with EV conversions. Anyone out there go the DIY route and care to comment? Anyone pay a pro for the job and care to share the pros and cons of doing so? Please leave us a comment and/or any pictures or links in the comments section below and let us know.

Source | Images: Wikimedia Commons

Source | Video: TheVerge.com via YouTube

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Neil Brooks
Neil Brooks is an electric vehicle owner and lover currently based in the greater Washington D.C. area. Neil is a fan of all things electric and may be the only person in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States to own both an electric leaf blower and an electric chainsaw. When he's not busy blogging about the latest on electric technology he enjoys grilling, rock climbing, and taking naps in his hammock.