Due to the overwhelming number of emails we receive, we are unable to respond to questions already answered on our website. Please have a look at the FAQs before contacting us.
What is the cost to convert?
Most conversions cost about $7K – $12K for the drive system parts including motor, controller, adapter, charger, gauges, safety disconnects, power steering pump, power brake pump, battery box’s and suspension upgrades.
Battery cost then adds about $1,000 for every 10km of range so a 100km (60 miles) range car will need about $10,000 in lithium batteries.
Heavier vehicles like small pickups and vans will require more battery to get the same range.
Am I going to save money by converting?
If you are just looking at converting as a way to save money then you are best to buy one of the major auto makers vehicles. A used Leaf will cost less then a conversion with the same or less range per charge and be more reliable in the long term.
Do automatic transmissions work for conversions?
Older manually controller automatics can be made to work in conversions but are less efficient so they require more battery than a standard transmission car to get the same range. Modern cars (after about 2000) with transmission control modules (TCM) are very difficult to make work. Once the gas engine is removed many of the sensors that communicate with the TCM are gone and it will not function.
Can a full size truck or van be converted?
There are large and very expensive drive systems that will work in full-size trucks but the cost of both the drive system and batteries is very high.
Getting more than 100km range from a full-size truck/van conversion is very expensive.
How easy is it to install a kit?
Installation guides provided with the kit give instructions on how to convert your vehicle. Depending on your mechanical experience you may need to solicit some guidance from a local mechanic. Some of our customers have involved their local high school automotive class in the project.
How far will the vehicle be able to travel before needing to be recharged?
Most car conversions using lead acid batteries have a range of 25-35 miles and most truck conversions with lead acid batteries have a range of 45-50 miles which can be doubled or tripled with Lithium batteries (cost approximately $7,000 to $15,000 US). It is important to note that the life expectancy of Lithium batteries is 2-3 times that of lead acid batteries so the long-term cost is about the same for both but the range benefits and lighter weight of lithium make them a good choice.
My limited research shows some advantages to an AC motor. Do you offer this as an option?
Most of the kits we now sell use an AC drive system, they are more efficient and offer regen braking which greatly improves drivability, extends range and brake pad life.
Do your DC kits offer regenerative braking?
No, the on-road DC systems do not provide regeneration.
Do you have a kit for my car?
We have vehicle-specific kits for the Chevy S10/S15, Ford Ranger, Geo Metro, Dodge Neon and New VW Beetle. CEV also has generic kits which provides basic component parts for any vehicle. Canadian Electric Vehicles can supply all the basic electric drive systems for you to convert almost any vehicle however you would have to build all the vehicle specific parts (example: motor mounts and battery boxes). You would also have to deal with the increased weight of the vehicle by finding and adding heavier springs if using lead acid batteries. We could not help with wiring other than the basic drive system.
Some things to consider:
- It is not practical to convert a vehicle with an automatic transmission due to the added power needed to run an automatic and the electronics needed for most modern automatics. We have converted a few vehicles with automatics for specific applications and they can be made to work but find they have about 20% less range than a standard.
- It is not practical to convert a 4 wheel drive vehicle due to the added weight and drag of the 4 wheel drive system however if range requirements are low or if Lithium batteries are used it is possible and we have done this with the Ford Ranger.
- It is not practical to convert a large car or full size truck due to their weight. It is possible but will cost much more than a smaller vehicle. The electric drive and battery systems have to be much larger to get similar performance to a smaller light weight vehicle.
- You are much better off in the end to buy a vehicle that we offer a kit for. The kits come with installation guides making the conversion relatively easy.
What is the best battery for my EV?
Most conversions are now using Lithium batteries due to the longer life and MUCH less weight. If you are doing a low cost low range EV then lead acid is still a good choice. Due to the added weight of lead acid you will need to improve the suspension to carry the added weight. Lithium is 3-4 times lighter than lead acid so most often no suspension changes are needed. Lithium is 2-3 times the cost of the lead acid batteries but lasts 3-4 times longer so they end up costing less in the long term.
These batteries are listed in order of their availability and popularity. When selecting a battery type, one must consider many factors, including (in no particular order):
4. Capacity (Amp Hours)
6. If a management system is required to avoid over voltage or for balancing. This usually leads to a more expensive charging system.
7. Maximum Rate of Discharge (Flooded – OK. AGM – OK. Gel – Not so great. Lithium – Great, and Nicad – OK.)
8. Maintenance Required
9. Expected Life Cycles
The flooded lead acid battery is cheap, highly recyclable, and available in a wide variety. These batteries are virtually unbeatable in cost per mile. A deep cycle type must be used. The typical choice is a golf cart battery.
Next, Adsorbed Glass Mat (AGM) sealed deep cycle lead acid batteries deliver high currents without as much voltage sag as flooded. They are lower maintenance and do not require watering. Sealed lead acid batteries require careful attention when charging, and may require the use of a battery balancing system or regulators. They also cost more up front and usually have a shorter life than flooded.
Gel-Cell sealed lead acid batteries do not have the high current capacity of AGM’s, but are maintenance free. They are advertised as not needing charge regulators or a management system. They are typically used in high voltage EV’s such as AC conversions where the high voltage keeps the current under their limits.
Flooded Nickel-cadmium batteries require water, but can be discharged deeply without damage, and can be cycled about 2000-3000 times while retaining 80% of their original capacity. Compare to 1000-1500 for flooded lead, and 300-1000 for sealed lead. They also have the advantage of not losing capacity in cold weather, as all lead acid batteries do. They are not affected nearly as much by the Peukert effect, that is, having a lower effective capacity when being used at higher currents. Nicads do require a special charging regimen, they have strict maximum temperature and current limits, and have a high up front cost. They are second behind flooded lead acid in cost per mile, thanks to their exceptional cycle life.
The most common battery for EV’s these days is the Lithium. They have very good cycle life and very lightweight compared to a comparable sized lead acid. This allows a much larger capacity battery to be installed without doing much or any suspension upgrades to carry the weight. Several types of lithium-ion batteries have been made available by companies like Thunder Sky, Winston and now Sinopoly. CEV has had very good results with these Sinopoly cells and all our conversions now use them. They do require a Battery Management System (BMS) to be sure they are not overcharged or run down too low which would damage them or possibly cause a fire. Never use a Lithium battery without some sort of BMS.
How do I design and build a battery box?
A battery box usually consists of the structure (usually a cage-like construction of structural metal, a liner, and insulation. The only one that is absolutely required is the structure. The others are a good idea if you want to keep the batteries clean and warm. The structure is usually a cage-like construction of angles and supports.
CEV builds sheet metal or aluminum box’s which act as the structure and lining. The structure used to restrain the batteries must be capable of restraining them and keeping them from entering the passenger compartment in an accident. It is either welded or bolted to the structure of the car. Both the structure and the attachment of the structure to the car must withstand crash loads, and restrain the batteries during an accident. NEDRA (National Electric Drag Racing Association) recommends designing the cage to withstand a load of of 8G’s (8 times the total weight of the cage and all its contents) forwards, backwards, and to each side, as well as 4 G’s upwards and downwards. It is acceptable if the structure deforms during a crash, so long as it restrains the batteries
CEV recommends installing the battery boxes under the rear seat of cars. This is usually where the gas tank originally was located and considered a safe location in the case of an accident. This location is also low in the car making it more stable than a battery pack that is located above the floor. Large battery packs should not be placed behind the rear wheels as it will have a negative effect on handling.
The liner of a battery box must be resistant to battery acid (sulfuric acid). It can be sheet metal. 304 or 304L stainless is ideal but expensive. Regular sheet steel can be used if it is properly primed and painted. Some EV conversions feature powder coated metal components. Polypropylene can be welded (using plastic welding techniques) into a very nice battery box liner. This is what the battery cases themselves are usually made of. It also provides some insulating value. Plywood may also be used, although acid can attack the glue, causing delamination. On the other hand, plywood is cheap and can be replaced as needed.
Insulation should be resistant to battery acid. Usually plastic foam available in home stores is used. It is always a good idea to test small samples for acid resistance when the material is unknown.
Sometimes a battery heating system is installed for use in cold climates. Various schemes have been used for this, but it usually consists of some sort of tape or pad heating unit, with a remote temperature probe and a thermostat.
When using flooded lead acid batteries, keeping acid fumes out of the passenger compartment by venting the battery enclosure while charging is critical. Seal the top of the battery enclosure off from the passenger compartment, and install a brushless fan – one that does not produce sparks – which is activated while the charger is plugged in (not just while it is on, as batteries can gas for a while after the charge cycle is through and the charger shuts off). The fan must be brushless because the exhaust vapors contain flammable hydrogen
I want to convert a 1972 Volkswagen Van with the parts you supply. Do you have instructions on how to convert the vehicle?
We only have complete installation guides for the S-10/S15/Senoma, Neon, Ranger, New Beetle and Geo. With all the many different makes, models and years of vehicles on the road it would be impossible to have detailed instructions for them all. We can supply one of existing guides which will give you the basic idea of what is involved. All conversions use the same “basic kit” of parts. The only real changes are battery boxes and motor mounts.
I was wondering if you could answer a question that you've probably been asked a million times (I apologize in advance). Why does the industry rely on batteries to store electricity? I mean, why can't people use an output shaft of a motor to spin a generator or a wind turbine in a grill of a vehicle that will provide electricity? I realize batteries would be needed to start the process but wouldn't the number of batteries required be reduced if you could use this "generator type" setup?
Do a net search for perpetual motion and I’m sure all your questions will be answered. The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed only changed from one form to another. Due to electrical resistance, mechanical friction and wind drag some of the circulating electrical energy would be turned into heat (wasted energy) at every stage and the system would run itself down.