Electric Vehicle Concepts 50 year electric conversion time line
In the 1970's we did not have digital cameras and computers to store photographs. Over this time many photographs were lost, destroyed or thrown out. Scanning fifty year old photographs doesn't look that great. This time line may be educational to some or boring to others. Can't say I remember half of it.
The basics of electric conversions are the same but the components have improved over the past fifty years. Many car models were repeated because they were good choices for electric conversions.
There are cars, tractors, boats and motorcycles. Concept designs and prototypes. Electric kit cars and vintage customs also in the mix.
In the 70's high volt DC drives were not readily available as they are today. Lead Acid batteries were it. Motors came from the fork lift industry and jet air plane starter motors. General Electric was the go to company with their high speed DC motors and high volt EV1 controller.
The EV-1 was one of the first DC high volt controllers available. Now we have controllers half the size that can handle the same amps.
Very well used electric conversion. GE motor, Adapter and coupling I made connected to the Fiat transmission using the clutch. Fans for motor and controller.
There are many factors that will create changes in the performance of your electric conversion. Your vehicle choice and electric conversion components. You cannot see a magnetic flux field. You can calculate what you think your electric conversion kit will do. But in the end it is only the real seat of the pants experience that will give you the true experience and education.
There is a lot of electric conversion history in this website. There should be something for everyone.
Donor car choice for heavy Lead Acid Batteries. Electric Conversions
The charger may be the most important choice in your electric conversion. It MUST shut off at the proper voltage. Lester chargers were one of the best in the 1970's. Voltage designed for 144 volts. 110 or 220 volt AC input. Had a 12 Volt DC charger built into the same case. 144 volts was the goal. That is 24 - 6 volt batteries at 65 pounds each equals over 1500 pounds.
You are going to remove 500 pounds of gas components and add 1000 pounds. The small trucks were a popular choice in the early days. Not everyone wants a two passenger truck. Most people want a light vehicle that could carry four or five adults.
#1. You must be able to change the springs and shocks to carry the extra 1000 pounds.
#2. The bearings, brakes and suspension must be strong enough to carry the extra weight and stop it.
My electric conversion car of choice in the 70's was the Italian made Fiats. The Fiats used the common 5" diameter coil springs and out board shocks. Most vehicles in the seventies used this design. I raced stock cars and had many extra springs and shocks that size. The over all steel was great. The manual transmissions were the best. I raced gas powered Fiats in the SCCA series also.
This is the reason you see so many Fiat's used in my electric conversions in my seventies.
Electric Conversion Basics
Removing and Replacing Components
Welding and Steel Fabrication
The world was a different place fifty years ago. The thought of doing an electric conversion was entertaining back then. I have found that 75 percent of the conversion process of changing a gas car to electric is steel fabrication and welding. It can take years to become an experienced steel fabricator and thousands of dollars in welding and fabrication equipment. Steel fabrication is some thing that you are intrigued with and enjoy or you will never be good at it. Steel fabrication is an art and not a science. I started at ten soldering tubing together to make electric slot cars. I designed and fabricated my race cars for the NASCAR series and SCCA series. I still today in 2022 enjoy building electric vehicle concepts. Anyone can buy parts. You still have to put them together and install them in your vehicle. Electric Vehicle Concepts is still here to help with your electric vehicle build. This website is created to share my electric conversion history and hopefully educate the interested.
#1: Removing gas parts.
I have had people ask if they should remove the gas components before the car arrived. Knowing where the wires are going and coming from is easiest to see when they are attached to the components. Marking them well is a big time saver.
#2 Removing the structural steel.
Most of our modern cars are uni body steel structures. We have seen the change from frame and body cars to the uni body design of incorporating both the frame and body in one stamped part to save weight. Many designs use sub frames with the uni body design. This can speed up assembly. The front sub frame would carry the engine and transmission along with steering. The rear sub frame would carry the differential and rear suspension. Trunk areas are usually redesigned to carry batteries.
#3 Transmissions and gear boxes.
All vehicles use a transmission or gear reduction gear box. All gas and gas-electric (hybrids) use transmissions with a final drive gear box. Many hybrids use CVT's (Constant Velocity Transmissions). Many gas car manufactures are using CVT's now.
Most modern all electric vehicles are directly connected to a gear reduction box or trans axle system. The electric motor can change the rotation direction electrically. No need for reverse gearing.
Electric conversion to a gas drive you will need to fabricate and adapter plate to connect the transmission or gear box to the electric motor face. Also the flywheel or torque converter will need to be coupled to the electric motor shaft.
We have used automatics in the past. Manuals are good with a working clutch.
New motor mounts will have to be fabricated along with a front battery box and mount for controller. Adapter plate and coupling on front of motor for AC compressor, power steering pump, alternator if you use it. Mount DC to DC converter. Mount charger and vacuum pump.
Over the years E-V Concepts has made over forty different styles of motor to transmission adapters and couplings for different manufactures vehicles. In the 90's Canadian EV has made aluminum adapters for some of the more popular conversion transmissions. Call or email us if you cannot find one for your car.
#4 Wire your vehicle together.
The generator sat over the electric motor. Using the Curtis DC controller at 150 volts. The batteries and charger were in the small trunk area. The generator could charge the batteries while driving or stopped.
Ford manual transmission with working clutch connected to the DC 9" motor. The Honda EU 6500 generator are double insulated and very quiet. We moved the electric start and choke controls to the interior of the car.
Electric Conversion Goals
Design Priorities - Parts and Manufactures
#1. Total System Voltage
You want the total running voltage as high as possible. 200 volts or more, up to 400 volts.
You are limited on space in most gas - electric conversions. You will use lithium ion batteries from a new EV. The higher the volts the less amps you use
making the batteries run cool. Modern EV's run near 400 volts. Modern EVs are designed to use the complete floor for batteries. This is not the standard for gas converted cars. The front and rear are more common areas in gas conversions for batteries.
Out of the many electric conversions in the past fifty years. I find it hard to get over 300 volts using lithium batteries in gas-electric conversions. Less than 150 volts will barely push a 3000 pound vehicle at freeway speeds. The more battery capacity (Amps) the more range.
With little space in the VW we decided to use a Honda EU1800 generator for a hybrid design. The generator could run during driving or stopped. Electric on/off start switch was moved inside.
This was the start of the Winston (ThunderSky) LiPo4 lithium cells. We had enough space to get over 150 volts using 100 amp cells. Anything was better than lead.
Your resting lithium ion cell is 3.7 volts times your total cells. The charger must shut off at the exact top of the charging voltage. Adjustable chargers are rare. Manzanita have been around for many years and will run up to 340 volts. The Manzanita you can adjust the amperage out put, nice feature.
Elcon chargers can be programed by Elcon and small changes can be made in the car. Both will run 110 AC and 220 AC. Your choice of amperage they put out.
#3. DC Controller or AC Inverter
Cost can have some decision on your choice of AC Drive or DC Drive.
There are many choices under 150 volts for controllers or inverters.
AC Drives are usually more expensive. Especially over 150 volts. The Inverter is designed to work with the motor. These are bought as a motor - inverter kit.
We like to carry a new 50 foot charge cord. There were no charging stations or J1772 plugs. The alternator was used as the regeneration for the 12 volt battery only during braking. Regenerative braking in the 70's.
The small trucks had full steel frames and the heavier suspension to carry the extra 1000 pounds of lead batteries. You could carry a generator. The lead batteries would overheat if you charged them while driving.
Originally we used smaller lead acid batteries to get the voltage up higher with the limited space we had. Ten years latter we put lithium batteries in for a new owner.
We connected an eleven inch electric motor to the factory transmission with a working clutch. Used a high powered Zilla DC controller and Mazanita charger in the front.
#4. Questions and answers.
Call or Email. Advise is free. I like to share my years of history and many testing failures. Saves you time and money.
The motor torque falls off above 3000 RPM's.
The smaller 9" motors rev higher and can run to 300 plus volts. $2500
The Solitron DC controller will adjust to any voltage under 340 volts. $3000
The Manzanita Charger will adjust up to 340 volts. $3000
You need an transmission adapter and motor coupling. $1500 Front adapter plate and pulleys may be needed for Air Conditioning and power steering. $500 Lots of fabrication labor.
Need a proper battery fuel gauge with shunt to read amps, Link Pro. $300
Soliton DC controller with Manzanita charger behind the front seat. All lithium LiPO4 batteries in the trunk.
Front wheel drive. The electric motor seemed just a bit longer than the gas engine. Was a tight fit with the AC and power steering pump on the front.
#5: Battery Choices
There are some mass produced batteries now.
The Fiat Samsung Bosch batteries come in factory package of 5 and 6 cell modules. The modules are the size of a group 23 lead battery. Ten pounds each. 20 volts each. Cost is $300 each. Ten would get you 200 volts. Higher voltage is better.
DC drives run to about 300 volts. AC drives run near 400 volts. Most mass produced AC drives are close to 400 volts. For the low amp lithium battery cells the higher voltage uses less amps to create the same power.
Porsche Boxster 2000
AC compressor and power steering pump on the front. Used the factory front motor mount along with the rear motor mounts.
Porsche Boxster 2000
Made the rear battery box go around the transmission. Had batteries in the front trunk area. And a few more in the engine bay.
The LiPo4 battery cells were easy to arrange in different shapes Water cooled Soliton DC controller could put out high amps and high volts in comparison to most DC controllers.
Some of the older automatic transmissions were easy to work with in comparison to the electronic controlled automatic transmissions. Great for the heavier cars and much more efficient.
In the early 1970's the V twin Harley Davidson was the ideal small engine for E-V Concepts hybrid designs. The large displacement V-twin made good torque at low speeds and matched the low RPM torque running speeds of our electric motors. The V-twin gas engine was inline with the electric motor and coupled by an electric clutch much like the magnetic clutch on your automotive air conditioning compressor.
Front battery box went across the front where the radiator and AC condenser would have been. Put the factory engine cover back on.
This car was going into colder area of the USA. We built hot water boxes under the front and rear battery boxes. Electric heater could run during charging or driving.
The ford Mustang was a little heavier than some other choices now that we had the lighter lithium batteries. The trunk space was all we needed for battery space.
Power steering pump, AC condenser pump and alternator were run off the front motor pulley.
Electric vehicle battery technology reached an all time high in 2015. I have waited over fifty years to see this time.
You know there are many design ideas when it comes to a new custom build. As technology changes fast there are new options in the components you may want to use in your new build. In building a gas hot rod or custom you may want to use some more modern drive train components from another car in some cases. This is true now in the EV world. As we have better batteries, motors, DC and AC drives now.
We have some great mass produced batteries being used in factory electric vehicles. E-V Concepts buys some low mileage cars from the insurance auctions for use of the batteries and drives. What cost $25,000 for a 25 KW battery pack five years ago cost $5000 today with better range.
Most all conversion kits (motor and controller packages) I see are under powered. From the 1970s to 1990s we only had lead acid batteries to use. Finding space or a vehicle that could carry 1500 more pounds of lead batteries was difficult. High powered DC motors and controllers were designed mostly for high speed starters for Jet engines and the fork lift industry used in grocery warehouses and other nontoxic emissions building conditions. General Electric was one of the only manufactures of DC motor and speed controllers in the USA in the 60s to 80s. High powered AC motors were and are very common in the manufacturing industry to run assembly lines and other large equipment. AC electricity is common place and the variable speed inverters were very accurate and expensive.
The 1990s we saw more interest in electric cars and interest from other companies to offer medium voltage (50 to 150 volts) DC motors and controllers.
The early 1990s we saw the new Nickel Metal Hydride large format batteries. General Motors and Chevron bought the large format Nickel Metal Hydride patents and sued any company like Toyota and Panasonic for trying to make electric vehicles with them. This went on for another 10 years.
In 1990 we had companies using the small low amperage spiral NiMH and lithium spiral cells 18650 and 26650 in the battery powered tools. These were the only high energy cells available in the USA not to be subjected to the GM, Chevron patents.
In 1990 Electric Vehicle Concepts began using the 26650 A123 spiral cells used in the Dewalt 36 volt power tools. They were nicely packaged with a BMS (battery management system) and a smart charger. At one amp per cell it took over 400 cells to move a car. Over working the low amp spiral cells over heated the cells to the point of explosion. Using the 26650 low amp cells in motorcycles and our city cars at 72 volts was a nice change by lowering the weight.
The small (AA size) 18650 lithium cells were the cheapest lithium batteries mass produced in the world. The choice of the early Tesla Roadster designed by AC Propulsion Company in California. This is the reason it takes 9000 batteries to power the Tesla car. Ten years later the Tesla cars changed to the larger (D size) 27650 designed 30 years earlier by A123 and used 20 years earlier by Electric Vehicle Concepts.
In 2000 we began to see large format lithium batteries. Large format lithium cells did not infringe on the Chevron GM NiMH patents. Some Chinese manufactures like Thundersky (Winston) and CALB were heavily backed by the Chinese government to produce better batteries for the Chinese EV market. The US government put high tariffs and liability bonds on the batteries to keep them out of the USA. Fortunately for us dye hard electric vehicle conversion companies the Chinese bought their way into the USA and set up distribution.
There was new inspiration in the EV world seeing large format lithium Polymer batteries (LiPo4). We now saw new companies offering new EV conversion kits or motor and controller packages.
The Light at the end of the tunnel. The oil companies and Gas car manufactures could no longer stop electric vehicles in the world market.
Electric Vehicle Concepts waited 40 years for this time.
Every manufacture had a hybrid model in their lineup. All using the small spiral NiMH batteries. Not infringing on the Chevron GM patents. Real electric cars were being manufactured and sold around the world except in the USA. The Tesla Company with its $125,000 roadster was not a real threat to the US car manufactures. BMW was allowed to lease their electric Mini Cooper in the USA for testing. The US government gave General Motors millions to produce their electric vehicle (hybrid Volt). After this we saw other manufactures like Nissan with their Leaf electric try the USA market. That went well. A full sized car with four doors and 75 mile range. That fit the 30 mile a day average of the American daily travels. The electric car dam has broken. California returns with the clean air act that the government stopped 15 years earlier. Every manufacture to sell cars in California had to offer a no emissions vehicle to sell their other gas cars in the state.
2013: Every manufacture had a compliance electric vehicle for sale in California. Some EVs were only for sale in California. Worldwide all major car manufactures produced a lithium battery powered electric vehicle. South Korea was the big winner of the change. Near 70 percent of all batteries, motors, controllers and electric vehicles were produced in South Korea for the worlds car manufactures.
2016: New technology comes to the lithium Ion battery vehicles. Energy density is higher and cost is lower. The age has come for Electric Vehicle Concepts and all other EV enthusiast.
You know the motors are just limited by the total watts they have to use. Finding enough space for batteries is always your limiting factor with any gas powered electric conversion build.
Modern EVs are designed to use the complete floor. This is not the standard for converted gas cars. The front and rear are more common areas in gas conversions.
One motor controller conversion kit does not fit all design considerations.
1st choice is what battery you will use. Not the motor and controller.
Basically you want as much battery and as high a voltage as possible for the space you have found.
Lead Acid, to heavy, low energy per weight, Dangerous with liquid acid and creates hydrogen gas when charged or discharged. Lead and acid are bad for the environment.
Nickel Metal Hydride, Lighter, safer, good in cold and hot weather, good energy density, last for many cycles. You can buy new out of China. Most hybrid cars use NiMH batteries. Some used modules available.
LiPo4 lithium cells. Most all made in China. Very safe. Good for low volt conversions as the 3.3 Volt cells can come as high as 200 amps per cell.
First Electric Conversion
1969 124 Fiat Sport Coupe. Used the Fiats for many electric conversions and kit car donors in the 70's.
First fiberglass design concept in 1973. Body put over a 1969 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe electric conversion. Hard top roof was removed and soft top made. First and last time for cutting the top off a car to make a convertible.
1970 Fiat 124 Spider
Bought my first Fiat 124 Spider in 1972. Later raced them in the SCCA national series for a few years.
Another Berlinetta fiberglass body over a 1969 Fiat 124 Spider
electric conversion. Wheels and tires from my NASCAR racer.
1974 Fiat 130 Salon
electric conversion. This model was never sold in the USA. Fiat sent six of these 130's along with forty other vehicles for crash testing in the USA. I was able to get a couple. Bent front bumper from a 5 mile a hour crash test.
The 1969 SL Mercedes was a good start for the early electric conversions. They were inexpensive back then. Could carry the weight of the lead batteries.
Still running lead acid batteries. The older 1966 Mustangs were plentiful and cheap. Easy to change the suspension for the extra battery weight.
The old hot rods were a simple toy for city use. A lot of show but not much go with lead batteries.
Another electric kit car from our Berlanetta molds. Triumph TR7 donor chassis. A lot of extra work to make battery boxes to carry lead acid batteries.
This was a good choice for electric conversion 1903 carriage for park tours.
The early 1968's Jaguars were built to carry the big engines. Plenty of space and could carry the weight. Aerodynamics helped a lot.
Early Ferrari look alike called the Kelmark. Could be put on a number of chassis. Well done for the early kit cars.
The older 1958 MK1 Jaguar. Real luxury for it's time. Could not find many people in the USA to maintain or get parts. They are expensive cars now.
Early iron from the 1930s was solid and strong. Easy to work with and could carry the weight. Always used steel wheels.
Early Ferrari GTO look a like replica used the 240Z Nissan. There were some interesting kit cars in those days.
Early Ford GT40 look alike called the Avenger created by Fiberfab. Always liked the kit cars. This used the Mustang 11 suspension.
Early Ferrari look alike called the Daytona. This was a limited production made by Bernie Mac. Was sued by Ferrari for his copies.
This was the beginning of the A123 26650 spiral lithium cells used in the Dewalt portable power tools.
We designed a futuristic 1932 lowboy coupe, Rixter Roadster.
With the new light weight 26650 lithium spiral cells we could now use donor vehicles for electric conversions that could not carry the heavy lead acid batteries.
1953 Mercedes Gazelle kit car. Built on the Ford Mustang suspension and sub frames . Ford transmission and rear end. Hybrid design with the Honda EU 6500 generator mounted over the motor.
Commissioned by a Brazilian biodiesel manufacture wanting to produce electric vehicles for international sales. The Sigma GTE. Created the body from their conceptual drawings. AWD Twin motors designed by E-V Concepts.
Mazda Miata electric conversion. Since there were no more Fiat 124 Spiders. The Miata was a direct copy of the Fiat. Good transmissions. Nice small convertible EV.
1964 VW beetle. We would not convert the VW's and Porsche's with lead acid batteries. They could not handle the weight. It was to difficult to beef up the old style suspension.
The Sigma GTE body was used on a number of donor chassis's. The Mitsubishi Eclipse was a favorite of mine. Hardtop or convertible.
The Brazilian company wanted a motorcycle. Their conceptual body was designed by an Israeli digital engineer. He considered it to be a Ferrari design concept. We made the real thing electric.
1958 corvette electric kit car.
used Camaro sub frames and suspension. Chevy transmission and rear end
1990 Chevy S10 truck
The early small trucks were very poplar electric lead battery conversions. The little Nissan trucks were available in the 1960's. Carrying the batteries in the bed made them dangerous.
959 Porsche fiberglass kit car body on a 911 Porsche.
This was the last lead acid electric conversion. The owner did not want to spend the extra money it cost for lipo4 lithium batteries.
A 1937 Ford fiberglass kit car
Used Ford Mustang suspension. Conversion using the 26650 A123 lithium spiral cells .
550 Spider Kit Car
Convertible electric Conversion
With the light weight batteries the VW suspension could be used. We made a tube frame to match the original factory tube frame with all original VW suspension.
Audi TT Convertible Conversion
We had never done this model Audi. I think this was one of the best choices for electric conversion with lithium batteries.
Audi A8, 1998 Nice car with AWD and all aluminum. We used the Automatic transmission and sold the big V8 engine.
Porsche Boxster 2000
These early Boxsters had engine oiling problems. The electric conversion cost the same as a Porsche gas engine replacement.
Mercedes SL 500 2000
With a conversion cost of near $20,000. I told the client to find something he liked and would want to keep.
This was a pretty choice.
Ford Shelby Cobra kit car
Still one of the most popular replica kit cars. A good number of companies made replica kits.
You can always find kit car projects that people gave up on completing.
2004 Mazda RX8
The Rotary Wankel engine could have engine trouble if not taken care of. Nice looking car and could get them with low miles and a bad engine.
2000 Ford Mustang
This was a little heavy for a lithium electric conversion. But this was the clients choice. Nice looking and inexpensive for the time.
Facade Electric Vehicle Concept
This was the only four door E-V Concept we designed. This was done for a new EV company. The original donor was the Dodge Intrepid. Later the Honda hybrid.
The Flying ZEN
This was designed to run on an overhead rail system for long runs. The overhead wheels would retract into the back of the car for general city street use.
Another Sigma GTE Electric kit car
Conversion. Changing the donor car gave it a unique look. Manufacture choice was a client option along with other body modifications.
Mamba electric kit car
Design by another upstart EV company. We took their conceptual drawings and created the full size sculpture (plug) for the fiberglass molds. The Mitsubishi Eclipse was used for the donor. Hardtop and convertible models were produced.
e-venton kit car
One of the few times tried to make a replica using only pictures from the internet. The Lamborghini Reventon was a limited build of 21 cars. The client requested we build him an electric replica of the limited addition million dollar supercar.
Gallardo kit car
Another replica of the Lamborghini Gallardo. The Toyota Celica was the donor car with electric conversion. The electric motors sat very low compared to the gas engine.
Miata electric kit car
Designed and built for a client in New Jursey. Used the retractable hardtop to hold up to the snow loads in the winters.
Wheel chair accessible Van
Started with the PT Cruiser. Removed the gas tank, exhaust and spare tire to create the space for the rear ramp.
reverse trike concept design. working with modern electric vehicle and making an exterior body change.
Another Sigma GTE remake from the original molds using a different donor vehicle
Wanting to go back and make another hot rod design from our Rixter concept molds that we had not done in more than fifteen years. Used the MX5 Miata with the retractable hard top. Motor connected to the factory 5 speed transmission.
Lithium ion spiral cells or flat prismatic Lion cells.
Safety should be the most important consideration in your battery choice for your electric conversion project.
Every electric conversion build or donor car choice will create different challenges for battery location and space. I have done over fifty electric conversions in my fifty plus years. Very few were the same donor vehicle. Battery choices have changed over the years. New model cars have come into play.
You may not know what space you have until you have the donor car. If you are going to spend this much money and time. Get something you want to keep.
This can change from 100 volts to 400 volts. Under 150 volts
barely gets freeway speed.
Battery cell choice. All lithium ion cells are 3.7 volts. Ranging from 1 amp Tesla cells to 65 amp Bosch Samsung cells. You need 300 to 600 amps to cruise the freeway depending on your car choice. Tesla uses 8000 1 amp cells. I prefer 100 65 amp cells. Safety is my concern. The less connections and better packaging is key. Tesla has the worst fire record of any electric vehicle. Low amp cells get very hot. High amp cells do not.
Electric Conversion Kits
When you know your total volts then you can buy a charger, controller or inverter.
Must shut off when your Ion cells are below 4.2 volts. The Manzanita charger is the most adjustable. The Elcon charger has limited adjustment but the company will get the cutoff close to your needs.
Motor and speed controller packages.
DC motors have good torque but lower RPMs than the AC motors. Electric motors make maximum torque from 300 rpm to 3000 rpm. Using a transmission will always give better performance and keep you in the highest torque range. Direct drive reduction gear boxes give you a happy medium of acceleration and top speed efficiency. Locked single direct drive gear boxes keeps people from over revving the motor and blowing it apart.
Transmissions are more efficient. All gas cars have transmissions. All hybrid electric cars have transmissions.
I have been making electric motor to transmission adapter kits for cars there are no adapter kits for and back before there were motor adapter kits.
DC motor controller or AC motor inverter choices.
This again goes to your battery choice and total voltage you have. DC drives are available to 300 volts. AC drives can run near 400 volts. With the low amp lithium cells the high voltage is easier on the cells and less chance of over heating.
Economical and Ecological Advantages
Electric Vehicle Concepts owners are eligible for state and federal tax credits and are exempt from some excise and luxury taxes. Drive in carpool lanes.