Electric Vehicles

I drive an Electric Car every day. You could too! EVs are great to drive and perfectly suited for day-day commuting. My EV has a range of 110km, and a top speed of over 100km/hr. I converted my car in 2008, but a similar conversion using the parts available today would cost $10,000 to $15,000. I use it for all our day-day driving. My poor petrol car is an orphan, unloved and used only for towing and the occasional country trip. Since 2008 the EV has driven over 60,000 petrol-free km.

An electric car has very little maintenance as the only wearing parts are tyres and brakes. No oil, no water, no exhaust system and just one moving part in the motor. Think about it – most of your car maintenance and repairs are due to that horrible old petrol engine.

You can offset the electricity for an EV from home solar PV panels, and effectively pay nothing for fuel. To convert a car to electric drive and install the PV panels costs less than a new medium size petrol car.

I really like the idea that I have “recycled” a petrol car into an EV – saving all the embodied energy required to manufacture a new car. So I emit no greenhouse gases in driving or charging my EV, and the greenhouse gases to build it were also very low (as I recycled an existing car chassis).

PV array

Best of all – the “fuel” for our EV is made locally – no dependence on expensive, dirty, rapidly depleting oil from other countries.

Electric Boat

I also have an electric Sail boat. I purchased my little Hartley TS16 sail boat in 2016, and have recently converted it to electric drive and experimented with solar electric power.

Building a Low Cost EV in 1 Week

In April 2009 we converted another Charade from ICE to Electric in just 3 days! We had originally planned 1 week, but had so much fantastic help we had a drivable electric car way ahead of schedule. It was a community effort – up to 10 people were helping at any one time. A great way to spend a weekend – recycling a petrol car to clean, renewable, electric drive.

Low Cost Electric Car

The conversion cost was around $8,000, the EV has a top speed of 75 km/hr and a range of around 50 km. Perfect for metro commuting. The conversion is based on low cost Chinese EV parts with 8 110AH lead acid batteries.

We blogged on the conversion each day, and even took time lapse pictures so you can see the conversion coming together over the three days:

Michael has also put together a great video of the conversion. It really gives you a feel for the conversion process and the team effort involved:

Here are some files we used to produce the EV. The CAD files are in Autocad format, and drawn with the excellent and free QCad program.

The Adaptor Plate design was laser cut for just $88. Due to my poor measurement skills it is not quite correct, about 1 hour of filing was required on the bell housing holes to get it aligned. Perhaps some one with better access to measurement tools and skills could modify it – the best idea I have heard is to place the gearbox on a mill then read off the XYZ coordinates of each hole. The tricky bit is getting the centre correct, as the gearbox input shaft is recessed from the plane of the bell housing holes.

The detailed plan we developed is in checklist format, it might be useful for your EV conversion. We have also costed the parts on a spreadsheet, which also has pages for weight distribution calculations for EV#1 and EV#2.

Articles on my Electric Vehicle

Check out my many blog posts on Electric Vehicles.


I have made a couple of presentations on EVs. My current passion is getting more low cost EVs on the road:


Here are some links to some great conversion web sites and Blogs. Lots of very useful information if you are interested in an Electric Vehicle conversion.

  • Shaun’s Electric Echo is a great step by step site and was a major influence on my conversion.
  • Gav’s video blog of his EV conversion. Funny and informative, but with a sad ending.
  • Electric Cars for Everyone. Carmel and Nathan are documenting a high powered, long range sports car conversion. This will be a very powerful vehicle and technology showcase of what is possible with EVs. Apart from the technical content Carmel also writes very well on the subject of Electric Vehicles.
  • Bruce’s Mighty Boy. This is an amazing “re-birth” and EV conversion. I have seen this car in person and it is better than when it rolled out of the factory. The attention to detail is amazing on both the conversion and the web site that documents it; for example complete EV circuit diagrams and photos documenting cable assembly and installation, right down to how many and what type of washers on each battery terminal!
  • Eric’s Lithium Barina. A lithium powered conversion in progress right here in South Australia. At just 800kg (estimated) when complete this will be a very fast, long range EV.
  • S.A. AEVA. South Australian branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association. Another nice web site with lots of useful links put together by Eric.