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Electric car conversions

Get up close with classic electric car conversions, and find out how much it'd cost to convert your own car into electric.

Would you convert your classic car into an electric? Many motorists are considering the move as the incentives for making the switch the electric (including tax breaks and free access to Clean Air Zones) pile up, and the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars looms ever closer.
To convert a car to electric, you essentially remove the internal combustion engine and install an electric motor in its place, then add the batteries. That’s probably an oversimplification, so we’ll hand over to the experts at Electric Classic Car to show us how it’s done.

Electric car conversion: 1975 BMW 1602

This 1975 BMW 1602 used to have 1.6-litre engine, but the classic electric car conversion saw the addition of a front battery pack under the hood and a motor underneath that.
The BMW’s motor is still attached to the gearbox, which is unusual for an electric car (see: how electric cars work). In another nod to the car’s heritage, the original fuel filler cap still fits over the charging port. Outside of the conversion to electric, the BMW 1602 also had a full restoration with an oak green paintjob, a new chin spoiler and other aesthetic work, plus a new infotainment system.

Electric car conversion: 1996 Land Rover Defender

In another classic car conversion, Electric Classic Cars added a Tesla powertrain to a 1996 Land Rover Defender. The result? 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and 450 horsepower – making it a contender for the title of quickest Defender in the world.
Now an electric car, this Defender has 100 kWh of battery capacity and can fully charge in half an hour. To maintain the car’s stand-out aesthetic, the old dials show new info. Though one major change, the removal of the transmission tunnel in the middle, means this Defender is one of the most spacious on the market.

Electric Porsche 356

Electrogenic are another of the many companies now offering electric car conversion in the UK. Rory Reid recently met with them and took the converted Porsche 356 – one of only a handful of electric cars to use a manual gearbox – for a spin.

Can you convert any car to electric?

In theory, there’s potential to convert any ICE car into an electric.
Electric car conversion is becoming increasingly popular, with drivers looking to end their reliance on fossil fuels and adopter greener methods of travel – without saying goodbye to beloved and reliable models. If you do opt to convert your car, you’ll need to re-register it as a “radically altered” vehicle, using these online forms on the website. You’ll also need to keep the original registration documents and relevant receipts. Photos and evidence of the conversion process can also help with the final approval.

How much does it cost to convert a car to electric?

Electric car conversions are something you can do at home (with enough technical skill and money). Keep in mind you’ll be playing with electronics and, eventually, driving it round so it’ll have to be roadworthy, reliable and safe.
If you do it yourself, the most expensive (and hardest part) will be sourcing the batteries and charging hardware. Alternatively, you can talk to a professional. A number of companies offer bespoke conversions of petrol and diesel cars. The cost will vary and converting a common family hatchback will cost a lot less than a rare classic. The price could be anything from a couple of grand to well over £10k for a top-level conversion on a rare car.

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