Can Existing Cars Be Converted to Electric?

Drivers have already started to make the switch to electric driving by ditching their old petrol/diesel cars and buying new electric cars, but what about precious classic cars – can they be converted to electric power? Electric Car Converts has all the answers for you.

The answer is yes, you can convert classic cars to electric power. In fact, it’s a growing industry in the UK and businesses are just beginning to do car conversions for all kinds of classic cars. Converting your car to an EV is a great way to save money on petrol/diesel and hugely reduce your carbon footprint at the same time (not to mention way better handling and reliability). Electric Car Converts are experts in the EV conversion industry and will be more than happy to assist any car owners thinking about converting their beautiful oldies to fully electric power.

If you didn’t know that electric car conversions were even possible, you’re not alone! In fact, 85% of UK car owners have no idea that petrol or diesel-powered cars can be converted to electric.

Image by: Courtney Cook

Can You Convert Your Petrol/Diesel Car into an Electric Vehicle?

Almost any car can be converted to electric power, making it a highly viable option for those looking to switch from petrol or diesel vehicles to EVs. The rise in electric car ownership is inevitable, petrol prices are soaring, so many more people want to make the switch to affordable driving and charging infrastructure in the UK and Europe is quickly evolving.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Cost of Conversion

Conversions are expensive, but not necessarily as expensive as you may think. Some of the original conversion companies in the UK insist on a full restoration or rebuild before conversion, making it take a long time and be really expensive. But in the case of Electric Car Converts, we’re here to do it as economically as possible, whilst maintaining perfect workmanship and the highest quality American parts.

Beyond this, conversions differ in price based on the complexity of the conversion. A modern car with onboard computers, driver aids, electronic braking systems and luxury mod-cons are hard to convert to electric vehicle power. This is due to having to run all of those systems on a different power source, which adds to the price. So, you’re better off converting a classic car to an EV, because you don’t have to worry about all of these things!

Compatibility of your car

Electric Car Converts will happily assess your vehicle to see if we can do a conversion for you, most cars allow electric conversions, however, it’s always better to let a professional make the decision. This decision mostly comes down to the overall condition of the car, if it has any rust, brakes or suspension issues then it is advisable for them to be sorted out before carrying out an EV conversion. Furthermore, there are things to consider such as how much space there is for batteries (a classic Mini is harder to fit batteries into than a VW Camper), how heavy the car is (a lighter car has a better range) and what the drivetrain is like (a 4WD system is less efficient, as is an automatic transmission for example).

Image by: JMTphotography

How much range do you need from your electric car?

Ultimately range comes down to budget and space, batteries are big and expensive. Production EVs have a range usually between 100 and 300 miles from a full charge and this can be replicated when, in our case, converting a Land Rover to electric, which ultimately use a very similar (or even the same) battery pack as new electric cars.

The range to put in your car depends on how you use it – what’s the longest journey you regularly do in a day? Usually we would suggest adding about 20% to this to be safe. Some of our clients do a long trip or two a year, for this you’d have to stop off and charge en-route or even borrow a combustion car unless you’re willing to invest in a larger battery pack.

Electric Car Converts offers expert conversions and conversion advice to help you make the switch. We’ll help you find the right range for your car and budget as we are experienced consultants in conversions.

Image by: Dominica Roseclay

Can I Convert My Classic Car to an EV in the UK?

EVs are the future of driving, and for a good reason – they’re cheaper to operate and so much better for the environment. If you’re thinking about making the switch, you might be wondering if it’s feasible to convert your current vehicle to an EV here in the UK, rather than buying a new one (which has terrible environmental consequences!). We’re happy to tell you that it is very possible to convert your petrol or diesel-powered car to electric locally, with the process being a lot more accessible than you may think. At Electric Car Converts we include transportation of your car to our workshop for the conversion, and then back to you afterwards.

Furthermore, although the vast majority of parts which go into an EV conversion are designed and manufactured in the USA we have good relationships with the suppliers and know the in’s and out’s of importing the parts needed quickly and economically. These parts are different from car to car, as you need to consider voltage range and cross-compatibility so if you’re not sure what parts you’ll need, we will, so get in touch!

Is an Electric Car Conversion Worth It?

The conversion process can be daunting, but by getting an experienced consultant or business involved from the beginning, a clear process and plan can be determined, this makes it much more palatable. In fact, if you didn’t want to be involved at all, Electric Car Converts could pick up your car, convert it and then drop it back off for you to enjoy.

An electric car conversion is of course an investment but our clients will often pay this off in around 4-6 years due to the much lower running costs. These running costs are lower not only due to an electric charge being cheaper than petrol/diesel but also because it requires far less maintenance and you don’t have to pay road tax or congestion charges.

Beyond the cost element, electric cars can be charged at home whilst you’re sleeping, meaning you don’t have to detour to the petrol station every couple of hundred miles. You can also drive around guilt-free, knowing you’re doing your bit for a cleaner, greener, emissions-free future (without dealing with the harmful environmental impact of new cars).

Finally, the cool factor is real! Your classic car, when converted to an EV, becomes even more remarkable, even rarer and even more valuable.

Types of Electric Vehicles:

There are several types of electric car available on the market today. These are the BEV, PHEV, and HEV. Each type has its own characteristics and we explain these below.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV):

A BEV runs solely on battery power. These vehicles have a range between 100 and 300 miles before needing to be recharged, and can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to charge fully. BEVs are the most economical to drive and have the smallest environmental impact. They’re expensive to buy, but require the least maintenance. A classic example is a Tesla. EV conversions all become BEV’s as we do not create PHEV’s or HEV’s due to the complexities involved.

Image by: Matt Weissinger

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV):

A PHEV can be plugged into an electric grid to recharge. These cars have two modes. First in electric mode, the car runs solely on battery power; then in petrol mode, the car runs on both battery power and petrol. PHEVs have a range of around 25 miles on battery alone and can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to charge fully. PHEVs are less expensive than BEVs but more expensive than HEVs. A classic example is a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV):

HEVs use a petrol engine to supplement the electric motor. These cars have a range of around 500 miles on a full tank of petrol. HEVs are the least expensive to buy due to the fact that they have been around the longest, but they do require significant maintenance and still have fairly high running costs due to the petrol involved. A classic example is a Toyota Prius.

Are Electric Cars Less Expensive to Maintain Compared to Fuel-driven Cars?

Yes, electric cars are much cheaper to maintain than petrol-powered cars, according to EDF Energy, a British integrated energy company. This is because they have just one moving part, which is much less sophisticated than hundreds of moving parts in a combustion engine. Electric motors don’t require belt changes, oil and filter changes or gasket changes, which all cost a lot in both parts and labour when they need to be replaced on a combustion engine.

Car owners spend hundreds or even thousands each year maintaining the engines in their cars, only for them to need more maintenance again in another year or so. Your laptops or smartphones don’t need any maintenance, do they? – Nor do the electric components in an electric classic car.

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and becoming an electric car convert, there are many resources available to help you make the transition and Electric Car Converts is the perfect place to start. Electric cars are the future of transportation, so if you think it’s worth a conversation, fill out our contact form today, and we will be in touch!

Reviewed by Barnaby Birkbeck (Founder) & Toby Wilson (Head Electrical Engineer), in 2024.

This article has been reviewed by our team of professional experts for accuracy and relevance. However, the information provided is for general informational purposes only. We recommend consulting with us for personalised guidance.