Convert A Car To Electric: Best Used Cars To Buy Now

There has been a lot of buzz in the car industry about electric cars. Green is the trend now. While demand for electric vehicles has been on the rise, supply of new and used EVs is limited. A popular option is to convert a car to electric. 

Many engineers and car enthusiasts have successfully converted a used gas-powered car into an electric car, you can rest assured that there are many conversion kits and parts on the market designed for many specific car models. 

Learn the steps to convert a car to electric here with a list of the best used car models for different needs. 

Can you convert a car to electric? – The criteria

While a gas-powered vehicle or a diesel car uses an internal combustion engine to generate power, an electric car draws power from batteries. The remaining components of these cars are basically the same, thus in general, any vehicle can be converted to electric vehicles.

electric car
Any car can be converted to an electric. (Photo Source: ecostandard)


However, there are cars that will make such conversion easier and more optimal. What are the criteria that makes a car a better option for conversion? 

Light weight

The lighter the vehicle is, the less battery energy is used to move it. A lightweight converted car means higher energy efficiency. It also allows the battery of the converted EV to have a longer “range”, that is the battery will require charging less frequently, which better guarantees a longer battery lifespan.


Room for batteries

The largest component of an electric car is its battery bank or, so an ideal car for conversion must have a lot of space. The batteries must be well protected from heat, as heat negatively affects the chemical reactions occurring inside the batteries. 

Thus, the batteries will usually be located inside the cargo compartment or underneath the seats to keep them well covered. 

electric car battery bank
The battery bank takes up the most space of an electric car. (Photo Source: electricartrade)

A solid structure

The battery banks are not only bulky but also heavy. A converted electric car will weigh a couple of hundred pounds more than it did with the gasoline engine, transmission, and a full tank of gas. 

With this extra weight, the car used for conversion must have a solid chassis design and adequate spring capacity to support this load and withstand the vibrations and forces caused by the car’s movement. 

A chassis is the basic framework or structure of a car. It can consist of only the frame or also includes the wheels and transmission, and sometimes even the car seats

A car in good shape

When you buy a used car, it’s best to have a technician inspect it inside out first. While you won’t have to worry about the engine, the used car used for conversion must have the essential components in good shape, including the brakes, steering and suspension.


Manual transmission

Cars that come with a manual transmission is often chosen for conversion, since they allow you to keep the gearing and axles in place. 

Unlike gas-powered engine, an electric motor delivers 100 percent of its power instantly and continuously, thus it will not need the multiple gears featured in regular vehicles. 

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

According to car experts, the cost to convert a car to electric can range between $8,000 to $12,000, not including the cost of the “donor” car. The battery pack alone for electric vehicle usually costs thousands of dollars.

electric vehicle battery
The battery is the most expensive part needed for conversion. (Photo Source: autocar)

In exchange for this upfront cost, you can expect to save more money running an electric vehicle. Since an electric vehicle has less moving parts than a gas-powered vehicle, an EV is not subject to routine wear and tear and break-downs, does not need regular oil changes and gasket replacement and many more regular maintenance.

Best compact & budget-friendly cars 

Meeting all of the above criteria, the most popular choices to convert a car to electric are these subcompact cars:

  • Chevrolet Aveo
  • Geo Metro
  • Honda Civic
honda civic
The Honda Civic is one of the most affordable and popular choice. (Photo Source: driving)


Best pickup trucks

If you need more space and compact car is not your cup of tea, you can choose from these small, two-wheel drive pickup trucks:

  • Chevrolet S10
  • Ford Ranger
  • Toyota Truck
  • Nissan Hardbody
Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger is an affordable pick-up truck for conversion. (Photo Source: topspeed)

Best high budget cars

Green cars are the future of cars. However, embracing the future does not mean you have to forget all about the past. How about owning a classic model but with internal ‘green engine’?

If you have a larger budget, you can opt for these classics to turn them into beautiful EVs:

  • Porsche 911 
  • Porsche 924
  • Porsche 929
  • Volkswagen Beetles 
  • Volkswagen Golfs
  • Ford’s Mustang
  • Triumph Spitfire 
  • Triumph GT6
  • Mazda Miata
  • Toyota MR2
  • Fiat 124 Spider
Volkswagen e-Beetles
Volkswagen’s electric model e-Beetle. (Photo Source: autoexpress)

The Volkswagen Beetles is indeed very popular for conversion to electric cars. Electric conversion for the classic Beetle is offered by so many aftermarket companies that Volkswagen finally decided to get in on the action. VW’s e-Beetle has 81 hp and a top speed of 93 mph.

Range is estimated at 124 miles, which means the electric Beetle requires charging every 124 miles. It also features DC fast charging, allowing for about 75% charge in just an hour. 

Convert a car to electric – The steps 

After you have done all the research and determined which model to convert, the steps to convert a car to electric is pretty straightforward.

  1. Remove the components of the old internal combustion engine. These include the engine, fuel tank, muffler, exhaust, starter, and radiator.
  2. Prepare mounts for the electric motor and replace the old engine with the motor. The size of the motor will depend on the room available in the car and your preference in terms of power. 
  3. The electric motor is powered by a battery pack.
    Prepare mounts for the battery pack and place the battery pack in the car. Lithium batteries are the best choice. The number of batteries used also depends on the available space. 
  4. Mount the power controller into the car. The power controller is needed to regulate the power flow between the battery pack and the motor.
  5. Add other necessary hardware, including a charging system to charge the batteries and a number of other hardwares to run the car’s air conditioning, heating, and steering systems.
  6. Add wiring to connect everything together.
  7. Charge the batteries and your converted electric car is ready.
  8. Before you drive you new vehicle on the road, make sure you have registered it in accordance with your state laws.
convert a car to electric
You’ll need many hardwares in addition to the battery bank and motor. (Photo Source: bmw)

Instead of buying new, convert a car to electric will give you more options to own a customized vehicle well suited for your needs and preferences. Now that you know how to convert a car to electric, make sure your converted EV will last you many miles with our handy maintenance tips.