Do you find yourself drawn to the promise of zero-emission, guilt-free driving and lower running costs? If so, you’re not alone. Over 2.3m electric cars have been sold in the first quarter of 2023 alone – up 25% on the same period last year.
For some, however, the cost of brand-new EVs remains prohibitive. In addition, it’s not sustainable to solely focus on the production of new electric cars – what do we do with the millions of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles already in existence?
Enter the concept of retrofitting, where any ICE car can be converted to an electric vehicle. If you’ve been thinking about moving away from fossil fuel power, why not retrofit your old car to electric?
What is Retrofitting?
Retrofitting is a term coined to describe the process of converting an existing petrol or diesel car so that it’s powered by electricity. The car’s engine and fuel tank are removed from the chassis, with an electric motor and battery installed in their place.
The trend was born from retrofitting classic cars with electric motors but has since become more widespread with people considering conversion of their day-to-day cars as a cheaper entry point into the world of EVs.
Benefits of Retrofitting
Converting a classic Land Rover to electric for example allows you to benefit from all the same advantages offered by a new EV:
- Zero CO2 emissions
- Easier maintenance
- Lower running costs
- Quieter engine
- Enhanced driving experience
In addition, many of the incentives offered in the UK don’t discriminate between whether you’re driving a new EV or an oldtimer electric conversion. You can take your dream Defender electric conversion into a low-emission zone and even enjoy free parking in some places (provided you’re charging your car at the same time).
Not only will retrofitting allow you to keep your favourite Land Rover, but it’ll be quieter and cheaper to run and maintain. Plus you’ll be doing your bit to keep your old Land Rover Series out of the landfill.
Key Components for Electric Conversion
Electric conversions can be undertaken on almost any car, provided it’s roadworthy and registered with the DVLA. Here at Electric Car Converts, we specialise in classic Land Rover Series conversions.
Some Land Rover enthusiasts may enjoy sourcing their own parts from scrapped EVs, giving a greater degree of control over the conversion. However, ready-made EV conversion kits are also a convenient way to source the components for both modern and vintage Landy electric conversion projects. They contain everything needed to retrofit a Land Rover, including all the wiring and batteries.
Retrofitting vs. Purchasing a New Electric Car
Buying a new electric car is expensive, with average prices of around £44,000 as of 2022. Retrofitting, on the other hand, starts from around £25,000 for a full conversion, installed by an experienced electric car conversion company like Electric Car Converts.
Both retrofitted EVs and new EVs have zero emissions, making them more eco-friendly to run. When you purchase a new electric car, you’re adding to the demand for the new car market. Manufacturing new cars generates considerable amounts of air and water pollution. Retrofitting is a more environmentally-friendly alternative since you’re extending the useful life of cars that would have otherwise gone to landfill.
Planning Your Retrofitting Project
Whether you’re undertaking a Land Rover electric conversion or simply retrofitting the family runaround, it’s important to properly plan for your retrofitting project.
Choosing Your Car
While it’s true that almost any car can be retrofitted, stop and consider if it’s practical.
To optimise your EV’s range, you need your vehicle as light as possible, whilst robust enough to cope with the weight of the battery. You’ll also need to make sure your classic Land Rover has enough space to accommodate the batteries, which doesn’t limit you to under the hood! EV batteries can be installed under the seat or in the boot, in fact, anywhere provided they’re not exposed and here at ECC we can advise on this, drawing on our vast experience.
Source high-quality batteries, motors and other core components for your retrofit project that are registered with the UK government. Following the conversion, the Land Rover needs to be re-registered so that its papers reflect its new energy source.
Choose a Qualified Professional
Electric conversions can be complex and need to be carried out by an approved specialist to ensure that the work is compliant with safety standards. A good place to start is by researching electric car conversion companies and choosing one that you trust and has the right experience and equipment to convert your car marque.
Ensuring Safety and Compliance in Electric Conversions
Retrofitting a classic Land Rover to electric is legal in the UK, but you’ll need to remember a few things to ensure your conversion is above board.
Following the conversion, you must re-register the Land Rover on the gov.uk website. Your best bet is to check the Government’s vehicle registration pages for the latest details. Depending on how much work you’ve had done, your converted Landy could fall under the rules for a “rebuilt vehicle” or a “radically altered vehicle”.
In addition to properly registering your vehicle, you’ll need to take out appropriate insurance coverage. Your insurer will need to be informed that your Land Rover is now electric, and premiums will be recalculated accordingly.
From a safety perspective, you’ll need to carefully check that all of the electrical components are compliant with the latest safety standards. The conversion process doesn’t alter or damage any of the car’s existing systems or components, but you’ll need to ensure that it isn’t heavier than the pre-modified vehicle.
Unless you’re a qualified electrician and mechanic, it’s a good idea to hire a reputable electric car conversion company. Not only will they take care of the fine details of the installation, but their work will also be covered by a warranty just in case something unexpected happens.
All-in-all, retrofitting your existing car can be an economical and environmentally-friendly way to leave your petrol guzzler behind, not to mention fun. Almost any car can be converted to electric, allowing you to continue enjoying your dream car for many more years.
Reviewed by Barnaby Birkbeck, Founder & Head Electrical Engineer, in 2023.