Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular as people look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint or if they simply are just looking for an insane amount of horsepower and torque. If you're interested in converting your car to electric, there are a few things you need to know. In this article, we'll discuss the process of how to do an EV Conversion and outline the steps you need to take. We'll also provide some tips on choosing the right components for your vehicle. So if you're ready to go electric, read on!
Table of Contents
EV conversion includes the conversion of an internal combustion engine vehicle to an electric vehicle. Basically, the main function of the EV conversion is the strip all the internal combustion engine-related hardware such as the engine, fuel tank, exhaust, mufflers, and radiator.
The next step is the replacement of all these components with electric components, most importantly the motor. The most common motor is the DC but some say an AC motor is better. The size of the motor will depend upon the space, weight, and requirements regarding performance.
To drive a motor in an EV-converted vehicle, we need a battery and controller to regulate the energy flow between the battery and the motor. Other required components include the charging system, required wiring, fuses, and the other myriad components. For the process of heating, power steering and air conditioning are some additional components that will be required.
Figure 2: Pickup truck with an electric battery motor conversion
According to the current resources of gasoline and the increasing amount of vehicles, it is understood that gasoline cannot meet the growing demand for vehicles. For this reason, an alternative is necessary and many believe electric cars conversions can be that solution. Moreover, several myths were attributed to EVs such as they can not drive fast. In reality, the acceleration provided by an electric vehicle is very smooth and fast.
Similarly, it is also considered that the range of the electric car is very low. But, the average trip of the vehicles is 10 miles which are the same as the previous 20 years. Studies also show that 98 percent of vehicles have trips less than 50 miles while trips more than 100 miles account only for 17 percent of the total.
Electric vehicles are being welcomed as 85 percent of American consumers have said that they would purchase plug-in electric vehicles.
The major benefits of EV converted vehicles include:
The current era of technology is moving from non-renewable sources to renewable sources in order to meet future demand. Moreover, such technologies are utilizing environment-friendly products. In this regard, the electric vehicle offered zero emissions which contribute towards green manufacturing.
This concept is very important to increasing the overall efficiency of the vehicle. This is due to the amount of energy, which wasted during the braking in the form of kinetic energy, which can be stored by this process. Regenerative braking works on the principle of mutual induction. When braking is applied the motor behaves as the generator and this way helps to charge the battery.
Here if we talk about the efficiency of the IC engine with that of the electric vehicle then the tank to wheel efficiency of the mechanical system is only 17 percent due to the idle losses and the transmission losses while on the other hand, the tank to wheel efficiency of the electric vehicle is about 72 percent.
The best car to select for the conversion to an electric vehicle is the small and the lightweight older models. They are easy to convert due to the smaller motor requirement and they show better efficiency as compared to bigger vehicles. Some common examples include the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Leaf.
Manual transmission vehicles are preferred because electric motors transmit 100 percent power instantly so they don’t require multiple gears. The transmissions are fixed in order to provide steady power.
One thing to remember in selecting a car is that the donor car would need to have better chassis and be in good condition like the suspension of the vehicle. This does not include the mechanical components. The most cost-efficient car would be the one having a blown engine.
There are two major types of electric motors: induction and direct current motors.
Induction motors use alternating current and variable frequency drive. They range in size to meet the torque and the horsepower requirement. They use the function of regenerative braking to stop the car which helps in recharging the batteries. But, the major drawbacks of these motors include the heavier cost.
On the other hand, DC motors are more economical. DC motors have two classes: the permanent magnet and the series DC. PM motors also provide the advantage of regenerative braking. DC motors are the most common because they are more economical. It is assumed that for a car of weight 3200 lbs. the torque required in the first gear is about 72 ft.-lbs. Similarly, for the 5th gear at the speed of about 65mph, the torque required is 52 ft.-lbs.
Figure 3: Brushless AC Motor
AC propulsion system has become completely dependent on the controller. This control on the electric motor by the precise controller is provided by the same technology which has converted the computer from room size to desktop. The controller of the current era is made to fit into the hood of the car which neglects the worries of the voltage source and the current need.
The controller selected must meet the capacity of the motor being used. There are various companies that are building controllers like the Kelly controller, Alltrax, and so on. The selection of the controller would depend upon the economical one. One thing you must keep in mind is that it must meet the capacity of the motor. Otherwise, it can limit the performance of the motor, and this way, the efficiency of the vehicle would be reduced.
In the EV conversion vehicle, some modifications are required to the axillary system like the:
If the original vehicle is having power steering, then the steering pump is removed and it must be mounted with the motor cage. Power is applied with the help of the belt, the same as it was provided in the original system. When in an idle state, the vehicle would not be having the power steering. This is a drawback because the motor doesn't work in the idle state while the engine works also. The brakes of the EV-converted vehicle from the high horsepower engine are solved by using the separate 12-volt vacuum pump.
About 20 to 30 percent of the heat is produced as the byproduct of the internal combustion engine vehicle. This is important if heating is required. While for an EV-converted vehicle, it is most important for a colder environment. 12V and the 156-watt heater can be used in the dashboard for the defroster to provide heat to the driver and the passengers in the cold. These heater cores must be removed if they are not used because if they would have left dormant, they would smell.
The selection of the battery depends upon the required output and the conversion budget of the EV conversion vehicle. For example, to store the energy the hybrid vehicles, use a nickel-metal hydrides battery. Just note that they are a bit expensive. Just like nickel, Lithium batteries offer the same advantages but they are expensive too. The major advantage of lithium-ion batteries is that their energy density allows them to work for more than 2000 cycles.
Figure 4: Orient Power Battery Pack
On the other hand, lead-acid batteries can run only for about 300 to 700 cycles. The energy of the battery pack can be calculated by multiplying the volts of the battery by the number of batteries. Batteries that you select must have a life cycle of at least two to three years. The batteries used for the electric vehicle conversions must be marked for the deep cycle and they must be rated in the ampere-hours instead of using them in the cranking amperes.
The main factors in the charging system are the time in which the batteries can be charged and the place where the vehicle is being charged. If the charging is performed too quickly, then it might result in building the charge on the lead plates, which is the reason for the false charge. The lead-acid batteries are considered to be more effective because they are more efficient with the slow charge and the discharge process.
One of the limiting factors is the outlet. The outlet of the most of garages has a 15 to 20-amp fuse. It must be kept in mind that the chord should not be pulled over the vehicle for the charging of the vehicle. Instead, it must be incorporated into the original gas cap.
The electronics of the car, like the light and the horn, operate on 12 volts, and a power supply is needed for them. It can be provided in three ways. One method is to use a 12-volt battery having a deep cycle to provide energy, but an additional charger is its drawback. The second method is to attach an alternator with the motor which can take power away.
It will affect the efficiency as the electrical energy first converts to mechanical and then back to electrical which includes the losses. The third option is to use the DC to DC converter. They will step down the power to 12 volts irrespective of the motor voltage but they are also expensive and the budget of the EV conversion will decide which process can be used.
For the original vehicle, it was easy to estimate the amount of fuel remaining in the fuel tank. But, in electric car conversions, this process is not so simple. In order to prevent the battery from overcharging and to calculate the exact amount of the battery remaining, a battery management system is used in the electric conversions.
The term used in this system is a state of charge, SOC, and depth of charge, DOC. SOC is to measure how full the battery is in form of a percentage. The DOC is the discharged amount of the battery in the percentage. If battery is discharged, below it would be the indication that the battery is either permanently damaged or it cannot be recharged. SOC is mostly measured with the specific gravity by using the sink value of the hydrometer. The voltage of each battery is measured with the help of the voltmeter, which helps find the faulty battery and replace it.
The procedure for EV conversion consists of a number of steps to be performed accurately. They are listed below.
Figure 5: EV conversions
This step would be simply skipped if you already have a vehicle. Otherwise, economical is to use an older car instead of the new car. The old car is most suitable because all the mechanical components are going to be replaced, even the powertrain will have a number of changes.
Now, it is time to remove almost everything which is under the hood. The major components which we are going to remove include:
The precaution which must be taken during this step is to remove all these components with proper care because they can be used in other vehicles or you can sell them to compensate your budget. At this time, you would be having the chassis of the car, interior, and wheels.
This is the stage to buy the electrical component, which is required. This includes the electric motors and battery pack. Make sure to include a controller that has the best compatibility with the motor. Electrical chargers, fuses, sensors, and wiring are the ancillary required electrical equipment.
This step must be performed with care. Remember to place all the components in the proper location. Keep in mind the available space. For this process, you must need some additional brackets, mountings, and holes to pass the wires. At this time, the expertise of the mechanic would be utilized. In order to place all the things, you can use the manual of the component in order to meet all the precautions.
After the successful placement and installation of the components, you should not move towards the road directly. You must need to pass the inspection first. The procedure of the inspection is the same as it is performed for an internal combustion engine vehicle.
This includes checking the legality of your vehicle to ensure that it meets the safety standards. After passing the test, you will receive a certificate. In order to save the time, you can check the requirements for a safer vehicle and work on it to save time.
The EV converted vehicle must be in compliance with the FMSS and NHTSA safety standards. know in New York, California, and the other states, some rules, and regulation require you to change the title of your vehicle from gas to electric. Each state has a high population, like California, New York, and Florida, which are establishing guidelines for electric vehicles.
The legislation process is quite easy because the Department of Motor Vehicles has given the ease to the insurance companies to register the EVs. You must verify that the design of your chassis must conform to the insurance requirements.
Due to the rising price of diesel, gas, and emissions, customers are starting to trade in their gas cars and buy electric cars. Some people are even ready to go halfway and try out hybrid vehicles. Some are even willing to transform their car by themselves through electric conversion.
EV conversions open up a new door of cars and technology. People can get, what was once a diesel car, and totally transform it. People are already upgrading classic cars. Who is crazy enough to try to convert a classic car into an EV? Electric classic cars would be the talk of the town. But, let's not go that far. We already have the electric bicycle.
In all seriousness, electric conversion is making way for this new wave of electric power. These new electric vehicles are taking over the car industry. We have seen it with the rise of Tesla and common brands coming out with their new electric cars. EVs are taking over the market and won't be stopping anytime soon. Are you willing to try EV conversion for your new car?