Range and Aerodynamics in converted EV’s (and a reality check against production electric cars!)

A question we get everyday, many times a day, here at Electric Car Converts is:

How much range can you put in my classic car EV conversion?

It will come as no surprise that this is no simple question. It depends on so many variables. So my response is:

– How heavy footed are you?

– How hilly is your county?

– Do you drive in cities, on the motorway or off-road?

– Do you want crazy Tesla style acceleration?

– How much money do you want to spend on (disgustingly expensive) Tesla batteries?

– How much space is there in your car?

But Crucially:

– Is your car aerodynamic and efficient?

So let’s talk about aerodynamics in some more detail:

Aerodynamics (+ weight and mechanical efficiency):

Our entry level electric car conversion package can get a Land Rover Defender 70-80 miles. The same size battery pack (26.5kWh) can be put in an MGB for 100 miles of range. People often think this comes down to weight, it does, but not to as much of an extent as it comes down to aerodynamics.

A Land Rover Defender (an old one, obviously, we don’t talk to people with new ones) has aerodynamics about as good as a garden shed, it’s drag coefficient is 0.59 (this is very, very bad). So much of the energy that your batteries produce therefore goes into moving shed loads of air out of your way – have you ever stuck your hand out of the window of a car going 60mph? The air feels, and behaves (kind of) like Honey – It’s thick, sticky and BRUTAL to your range. So the best thing to do if you want more range out of your Defender is drastically smoothen its boxy lines, lower it, put it on thin tyres and…. wait, that’s not going to work is it..

That’s why an MGB will go 100+ miles on the same battery pack, and why production EV’s are so silky smooth, low and curvy. A Tesla Model S actually has one of the best drag coefficients of any production car ever, at 0.208 (this is very good!) – this means that for every kWh of battery power, a Tesla goes much further than your Defender, and why it has one of the best EV range capabilities on the market.

(Here’s the air-resistance monster visually)

What we stress though, is that it doesn’t matter! Defenders weren’t designed to drive down the motorway at 60mph (if you’re lucky), they were designed to go 5mph over anything, up cliffs, through rivers and through sand – and on electric power this is even better than on diesel/petrol power because there is **** loads of torque at 0 RPM (but this is going to have to be a different blog).

Lastly, on this point, mechanical drag is important too. Energy can be lost in four-wheel drive systems, old school gearboxes and differentials. So this doesn’t help, but again, who cares?

I’d rather look cool driving around in my drive four-wheel drive shed-like, topless icon than a slippery boring (probably grey) saloon car!

Time for a reality check:

The average range of production electric vehicles is 203 miles.

Not overly impressive is it?

But how often do you really drive 203 miles in one journey? The average distance a UK driver drives per day is less than 40 miles – making our entry-level package, which has a 70-100 mile range, perfectly adequate! Our mid-range package (if you’ll pardon the pun) does 150 – 200 miles. A couple of times per year when you go up to see the kids at Uni or down to Cornwall for a surf perhaps it’s worth borrowing your neighbours (stinky, dirty, polluting) diesel! This is the unfortunate reality of EV range, but for most people, particularly in cities – it’s “no worries, for the rest of your days!” – Timone & Pumba (1994).

The longest electric vehicle range comes from the boffins at Mercedes, who have managed to get 395 miles out of the new EQS – although we’d hope so too at an eye watering price of £155,000! Their battery pack is 108kWh, which is just under 4 times the size of our entry-level battery pack which comes in at 26.5kWh.

The big dogs in the production EV world (Tesla, Porsche, BMW, Volkswagen, Polestar, Nissan, Rivian) are flirting around the 200 mile mark, so considering we can get 150 miles out your mum’s old Volkswagen Beetle – we’d say we’re doing pretty well. (DISCLAIMER: We ‘borrow’ the batteries and tech out of el big dogs ^ so are not taking any credit!)

Anyway, that’s enough for one day – We’ll leave you with this picture of the Mercedes EQS, the most boring car we’ve laid our eyes on, to help you sleep this evening.