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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone point me in the direction of a reliable recent list of companies which carry out professional conversions of cars to EV's in the UK, the Midlands would be even better. I live in Worcestershire, any links or PM's would be appreciated.

When you google "UK EV conversion" you come up with some quite old links, some dead links, parts suppliers and peoples personal projects (some of which are very old)

Inspired as I am by @Henryvv awesome 911 conversion I would be looking at something more thrifty but still fun rather than practical. Ideally I would like to buy a running car for under 5k and then spend 5-10K converting it to an EV - does this sound like a practical budget?

I would need to the conversion to be done for me, to a reasonably professional and safe standard as I am not electrically competent and I am am not going to drive my family around in something dangerous! The car will need to be all-weather and not too fragile.

I am also interested in which vehicles people think would make a suitable candidate for a fun runabout, my current thoughts are :
  • Mazda MX-5
  • Honda S2000
  • BMW Z4 convertible
But I have also toyed with :
  • Toyota MR2
  • MGF
Any thoughts?

J
 

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Its all about your expectations. New parts alone will cost more than your budget.
I had one guy who was adamt that his £4k budget would get him a conversion (done for him) that could do 100 miles / charge and with fast 0 to 70 speed. Just unrealistic. You have to convert because you want the car. Not because its a cheap way of getting an EV, it isnt.
Most of the cars you list are possible, but with all such cars the placement of the battery pack is the challenge if you wish to retain full boot space. A compromise.
Fixed gear is perfectly good for many applications, and simplifies any conversion as you dont need to build a new flywheel. But you could use the gearbox, say in 1st or second for faster acceleration, and then just leave it in 2nd or 3rd for simple driving.
Used parts are a good option, especially used Leaf packs.
A lot of the parts I hold in stock such as HPEVS AC50 motors and Curtis controllers are new but old stock, but also substantially cheaper than newly importing from the USA. To make these function I hold cabling contactors throttle pots , and make the motor couplings / adaptor plates to suite each application.
My own preference would be the MX5 or MGF, the latter has a lot going for it, especially as you can get a lot of aftermarket bits including spring replacements / adjustable spring mounts. Later models are also cheap, and ones with dodgy K series engines/ cylinder head problems do come up a lot. Im just under 6ft tall and find it increasingly difficult to get in and out of these cars. Something to consider for longer term ownership.
 

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Zoe Devotee
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A Bedford Rascal/Diahatsu mini van EV would be most fun. You'd think the running gear and gubbins from an old knackered imiev would be the ideal candidate?
 

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I just love my Smart Conversion, not the fastest in the world, but so much fun. I have another one thats waiting for me to rebuild it (silver 2008) having been a prototype conversion by another company. With the battery pack under the floor, its just so stable. I also have used motors and curtis controller to suit and adaptor plates for the 451 already made. The battery pack could readily be built with Leaf cells. But the great thing is nothing intrudes into the usable space inside.
The only issue I have with the Smart is the gear ratios. Mine is in third and is a touch sedantary, it will do 70mph down hill with the wind behind but 2nd would give a more spirited performance, but would not get much above about 55. I inadvertantly got it into reverse when I last rebuilt it, with the motor running in the correct direction it would burn rubber up to about 15mph, but run out of puf quickly.
Might be worth looking at how one could control the motorised gear change, but in mine I had to remove that to get the charger and BMS under the rear floor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Its all about your expectations. New parts alone will cost more than your budget.
I had one guy who was adamt that his £4k budget would get him a conversion (done for him) that could do 100 miles / charge and with fast 0 to 70 speed. Just unrealistic. You have to convert because you want the car. Not because its a cheap way of getting an EV, it isnt.
Thanks for your reply and the advice, in case it wasn't clear in my original my budget for the conversion was / is £10K, is that not enough? If so then I guess a conversion may be out of my reach.

Along the lines of your post I had imagined purchasing a car for less than 5K and then spending 5-10K on a conversion - total cost sub £15k. Regarding performance I guess I would be looking at achieving similar to the original car, nothing outrageous..

I DO know its not a way of getting a cheap EV but I think I would be less enthusiastic about doing it if, for example, the total cost of converting an old MX-5 was more than buying a brand new one.

J
 

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Are RX-8s not generally dirt cheap to buy as they are so expensive to run and regularly have engine failure? The less you spend on the initial car the more you have left over for the EV conversion. Or as mentioned above, an MGF that has had a Head Gasket Failure and is being scrapped for £100 ...
 

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Zoe Devotee
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Its rarely the case a car with "just" a head gasket failure would be scrapped.... its normally got a catalogue of other faults or things needing doing and also usually has an affinity with tin work before they get scrapped for £100. If it was genuinely just a head gasket and the owner wanted rid they'd probably sell it private/gumtree/ebay for a killing to some chump that thought that 1 task to open top motoring awaited lol
 

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Yeah, true, it would be more than a HGF or the HGF would be the final straw for someone. My point really being that if you find a car where the ICE bits (that you don't need) are broken then you can save money to put towards the EV conversion.
 

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Mmmmmmm

How about Atom clone or an elise

Then you could take the entire under bonnet gubbins from a Leaf and plonk it in where the normal car trans axle would go.
 

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Conversions are labours of love. If you have a cherished car that you want to live on as an EV, great, spend the money, the fact it's almost worthless afterward doesn't matter because to you the car is priceless. If you want to do a quality job on a decent car (don't forget, spending £5k on an MX5 and then £10k giving it performance and range not quite as good as a £10k second hand Leaf, you are still driving a £5k MX5 which, with a quick scan of autotrader, is going to get you an 8-10 year old car with a not so nice interior ) then your budget needs to be higher, and you'll quickly get to Tesla Roadster money.
 

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I instantly thought MX-5 but then I saw the S2000 on the list. Try one before buying as they're pretty tight inside but that would be a great one since the engine along will fetch quite a bit back thanks to every man and his dog wanting it for their civic. Motor where the diff was, replace engine, gearbox and fuel tank space with batteries and it would be a laugh.
 

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Actually a lot of MGFs are scrapped because of engine failures. Head gaskets arnt a simple job on the K series, as they have through bolts down to the bottom of the engine base.These bolts have to be changed and often arnt. Many garages just replace the head gasket which soon goes again requiring skimming of the head or worse still the block. Owners are regularly getting £500 bills for K series head gasket failures. Hence why people often walk away from them at that point.
MX5 is a readily available and economic option, The Honda s2000 is always an expensive beast and always fetches higher prices. Even with a bu88ered engine. Its also a bit heavier, and body panels are not cheap.
I think I would go for the MG or the MX5, probably edging towards the MG as parts are readily available for brakes suspension etc, and body panels are plentiful should you need them.
With a bit of careful planning you should be able to buy and convert something of the size you are looking for, for the £15k budget. But you may need to do some of the work or running around yourself to keep the cost down. For instance could you extract the original drive train your self ? Strip out the fuel system gear linkage etc.
I have had an owner come over and work with me on his vehicle, not just to keep costs down but to understand a bit more of whats going on.
 

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Good post grumpy.

For the £15K I am guessing you might squeak to 50 miles range, 0-60 in the 10 second range and probably quite a struggle to 70, with 3kW charging only to keep budget for batteries? Open-top cars are draggy old things ...
 

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I have to confess to having a steadily growing desire to look into converting a Mercedes SL (2004-2008) to electric. I even got as far as looking through eBay listings a week or two ago for donor cars.

My SL55 is the only car I've ever owned that I still miss, and the irony of having a car like that without the baritone V8 soundtrack would just be fantastic. Plus the fact that I would love an electric convertible and I just don't fit in a roadster...
 

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Am looking at a very early 1960 Merc 220 coupe for a customers conversion. Its a bit heavy but has the world largest boot for battery storage.
Personally im collecting parts for a fiat 500 conversion (1970s not current) and in the past have looked at a Daihatsu Copen, they would make a really great car, small, open top, reasonably new suspension technology, and fun. But small and I fear even harder to get into than an MGF.
I will stick with the fiat 500 for the moment, as having a third member of the family (not yer a teenager) we cant all get into the smart and I cant justify more two seaters in the personal fleet.
I also still have the makings of a 1926 Model t two sedan that was originally going to have supra suspension, supra 6 speed box and Fiat/alfa 2.4 diesel. All the bits sitting unloved in my shed. Now that would be fun as an EV, but its just too much work at the moment. Why a 26t? well I used to make 26t roadster bodies in the 1980s( I still have the body moulds) and always wanted one, but again the issue of a third member of the family made that no longer an option. Hence about 6 years ago the start of the tudor parts collection.
 

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Isn't it odd how sleeping on something produces ideas!
I woke this morning thinking a Reliant Scimitar sports car might make a suitable conversion, rare and so stylish.
 
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