The Best Cars and Trucks to Convert to Electric Vehicles
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
If converting a car or truck to electric has been on your radar, we can help make things go easier by helping you select the best model to convert. We’ll point out which are the most popular vehicles that get converted to electric and what goes into selecting the best make and model to convert.
Five Points to Consider When Choosing a Car to Convert to Electric
Weight - The lighter the vehicle is the easier it will be to move it along further down the road. Lightweight cars and trucks extend the range of an electric car due to the lack of power needed to get it from point a to point b. Lighter weight means less mass to propel and in turn, means better energy efficiency and a longer span between charges.
Battery Room - Electric vehicles require lots of room for batteries. In fact, the single most use of square footage in an electric vehicle is its battery bank. Typically, the battery bank will be in the trunk or under the seats so this area of the vehicle should be adequately spacious. The battery bank must be protected so never put the batteries outside of the protection of the car or truck’s frame or underbody.
Solid Chassis - Conduct some research on the vehicle you are considering. Does it have a history of chassis problems? Avoid it. You want a vehicle with minimum body roll and an adequate suspension. All said and done, when you tighten the last bolt on your completed electric vehicle, you can expect it to weigh between 200 and 300 pounds more than it did before you converted it.
Good Condition - You’re looking for a car that has very little rust. Be sure to check the condition of the entire vehicle top to bottom. It doesn’t matter if it runs, (although it’s a plus) you’re going to replace the engine anyway, but it does need to have the parts you’re keeping to be in good working order. This means the frame can’t be bent, the wheels need to be true and the brakes need to be functioning properly. All the lights need to work and the windshield wipers as well. The windows need to go up and down, the doors should open and close properly and any other options like the radio, electric mirrors and seats should work as expected. If you have the VIN number you can use that to order a Carfax. You want to see if it has had routine maintenance and if it has ever been in an accident. If you can, have a mechanic check out the chassis before you buy it. When they get it up on the rack, they might see something you may have missed during your initial inspection.
Two-wheel Drive - This requirement is because of how the conversion takes place. A two-wheel drive car can have its transmission taken out and will probably still operate fine as an electric vehicle. That is, if the motor to be installed is able to produce low RPM output and reversing polarity to go backward.
To summarize, a good car to convert to an electric car is lightweight, has lots of room for batteries, has a solid chassis, is in good condition and has two-wheel drive.
Most Popular Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) Performance Cars to Convert to Electric
Chevrolet Camaro any year
Ford Mustang any RWD
BMW any RWD Your Favorite Car any RWD
Chevrolet Corvette with one or two motors Porsche 911
Most Popular Trucks to Convert to Electric
Chevrolet Colorado or Silverado
Ford F-150, Thru F or E- 450
Nissan Hardbody or Titan
Any RWD Truck - 4x2 trucks are easier than 4x4, and have better range
Note: The best way to do a 4x4 truck is with all-wheel drive (AWD), two motors run independently, so it can be run as a 4x2 (either axle)
To convert a car to electric you ideally want an EV transmission, electric motor, batteries and a converter/controller. The batteries are the most expensive part and the most important. They will determine how long it takes to charge your EV and how far the range is. They will also be the most expensive to replace when their time comes.
So it’s important to buy the best batteries your budget will allow. The more you buy the better but keep in mind that quality is the most important feature. You’d rather have a car with a 45-mile range that lasts 10 years than a car or truck with a 90-mile range that only lasts 4 years because of cheap batteries.
The Steps for Gas to Electric Car Conversion
Remove the old engine, exhaust, fuel system and tank.
Prepare the mounts for the electric motor and place it in the car or truck.
Create mounts for the batteries and put them in the vehicle.
Mount the controller/converter in the car.
Mount the DC to DC converter.
Mount the onboard charger.
Mount your new gauges.
Mount the cooling pump if components are liquid cooled.
Add wiring to connect the new parts.
Charge the batteries.
Couldn’t be simpler right? We wish it was that easy. There are of course a lot more specific details involved in converting your gas car to electric. If you’re not using a kit with specific instructions for your make and model, you’ll probably need to do some fabrication, “creative engineering” and a few other modifications before you hit the road. Unless the conversion is done by a professional you can plan on it taking several weeks to complete.
In the end, the time and effort spent will be well worth it. You’ll have a one-of-a-kind car or truck that won’t break your budget at the gas pump and you will be helping the environment by running on clean energy.