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(AUTHORS NOTE, July 9, 2017)
Hi Everyone, there' been a lot of views on this project lately! Thanks for coming by to read through it! Much has changed since I originally built this car, including the fact that there are a LOT of great commercially built electric cars available for sale, including used at good prices. When I built this car, pretty much the only electric car available was the $100,000 Tesla Roadster. Now, I'm driving a used Mitsubishi iMiEV electric car and power it with my Solar Garage! Please take a look at my other Instructables and at 300MPG.org for the latest on my clean transportation adventures!)

The "Electro-Metro" Project.

Can't afford a Nissan Leaf? No Problem!

Build a cheap electric car yourself by removing the the car engine, replacing it with a forklift motor, and adding batteries.

I have plenty of videos about this project at:
http://www.youtube.com/user/BenjaminNelson
and 300MPG.org

The primary "build blog" for this project is at:
http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/ben-nelsons-electro-metro-build-thread-848.html
but watch out! That is a good read for when you have WAY too much time on your hands.

For a good intro to basic electric car construction, stick with this Instructable. (If you are more interested in electric MOTORCYCLES, please see this intractable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Build-Your-Own-ELECTRIC-MOTORCYCLE/


For more in-depth construction information, check out the instructional Video DVD available at 300MPG.org
I have now also converted that original DVD to a series of YouTube videos. See them in THIS playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmHss3DBZUilepzTmr-XAVwpRRCqMv7Ny

Step 1: Get a Car.

Picture of Get a Car.
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The first thing you need to do is get a car. They are not all equal.

I was looking for something lightweight, with no power anything.

Heavier cars need more energy to push down the road, thus limiting your range on batteries.

Things like power steering and power brakes run off the engine, which is going to be removed anyways, rendering them useless. Power windows and locks add weight and complexity to the vehicle.

I ended up finding a Geo Metro for sale, for $500. The engine ran fine, and the body wasn't too bad, but I couldn't drive it home because the clutch was messed up. Oh well, this conversion isn't going to use a clutch anyways!

Make sure the car doesn't have anything major wrong with it (other than maybe a blown engine!) You want to do a Conversion, not a Restoration!

Amazeballs!

Want to come convert my 1966 Volvo 1800s?

You want to find out how to just replicate that in carbon fiber. Lighter the car, the better it works as electric. There’s an entire cable channel about car guys who tear them down and change or restore them, worth a look to learn stuff.

Jaguar has been scooping up old XKEs to convert, but demand was so crazy they started doing carbon fiber replicas. Spectacular idea! Less battery wasted lugging steel around.
bennelson (author)  mindsprinter1 year ago
I had to look up what an 1800S was. Cool Car! As I write this (January 2018) there are plenty of great electric cars out there a person can buy used at a good price. One great reason to still convert a car is if it is something not available as an electric, such as an old sports car, a convertible, or at this point, even just a pickup truck. (EV pickups are great, and I'm shocked that we still don't have a mainstream manufacturer of electric trucks!) Take a look at EVAlbum.com for inspiration or try contacting a local chapter of the Electric Auto Association to see if you can find somebody nearby to work with!
MinzM made it!4 years ago
Ever put a solar panel on electric car????
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Impressive! Do an Instructable and tell us about it?
Thank you for sharing. Quite clever and resourceful - good friends, too!
Did you ever get a clutch working? How do you shift it? (if need be)
Maybe I missed that part of teh test drive video.
RaymondR615 days ago
I see that you also own a Chevy Volt (2nd Gen). Since the Volt was discontinued, do you believe you can convert a gas car or CUV to an EV using just the Volt's transaxle, controller, and battery (or other)? GM missed a great opportunity by not offering a hybrid or electric Equinox.
YanickV215 days ago
I have watched this build log a lot of times and i still find i fun to watch just to see the simplicity of how he makes it seem. Awesome project and keep this stuff up.
DaveC30615 days ago
Awesome work well done,
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supergilligan3 months ago
Has anyone told you that you look a bit like Tony Stark?
AmeyB65 months ago
Request you to change the title to 'Convert to a electric from a gasoline car'.
SpandyS8 months ago
Hi! I am a person with no background knowledge of machines but I am trying to understand how cars work and how I can get more people to adopt electric cars. I'm doing a sort of research and your site helped me. I will refer to this site here and there so just wanted to appreciate your effort.
GalalE29 months ago
i will tray to do it can you help me..pls,,
Hem kumar1 year ago
Respect Sir/madam can we replace batteries by capacitor??
Rcchavan1 year ago
And also tell me where I can find a small generator for charging those battery while running the car
Rcchavan1 year ago
I am a college student and I want to built a electric car for a college project so how much powerfull motor should I use and how much battery is needed to drive it around 40-50km. I am assuming the all cars weight is around 150-200kg. Plz help me by answering this question. And also tell me where can buy this motor and battery's.
PatrikA111 year ago

Hi.. Amazing post.. Just what I needed to read. I'm thinking of converting an old Nissan Sunny B12 1988. I was thinking; how many kw is the electric motor and how many rpms is max rpms? What kind of batteries is it? The kind that handles deepcharges?How many Ah?

This is great...think I know what to do now :)

thank you for a great writeup

OscarM1851 year ago
I'm curious as to what the final gear ratio, and amperage curve vs speed and voltage. Do you have a handle on that? It would certainly be beneficial to comb through others successes and mistakes. Thank you for the interesting read.
bronyeg1 year ago
Please can you expantiate on the adapter plate part.
I'm thinking of using one of those beetles. But haven't got one yet
I wanna outline my plan and cost before plunging.
bennelson (author)  bronyeg1 year ago

Hello! Here's a video that goes deeper in depth about the adapter plate.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRRavUNbahk

dmceneny1 year ago
This might be a dumb question but can you change gears? Like I understand starting it in third to get an average gear ratio but say someone did this with a truck? Just wondering as I'm trying to go unique with my business I'm also working on a remote control riding mower or something of the like rather electric than current gas model be glad to have any help lol
bennelson (author)  dmceneny1 year ago

Yes, I can change gears. It's slightly slower than with a clutch, but works just fine.
I always tended to not shift much in this car. In town, I could just leave it in one gear if I wanted.

NedžadG1 year ago

I am interesting about solving ASP, EPS; ABS and ECU ? Just remove it all, or keep some of it somwhow? Thanks!

bennelson (author)  NedžadG1 year ago

I don't know what half those acronyms are! Converting a little bit older car simplifies things as they were less computer-based.
On my car I did see that there is a dedicated air-bag computer which is separate from any engine computer. I made sure to leave the air-bags and air-bag computer untouched, so that the car would still have its original safety features.
I would remove any unnecessary computers related to the engine, fuel tank, etc., but make sure to leave anything safety-related, such as anti-lock brake controls.

VeaceslavR1 year ago
Hi instead of using aquarium pump you can by vacuum pump from audi a4 or jetta 1.8 turbo engine good luck with your project
HaoG1 made it!1 year ago

this is our modified power and transmission for electric vehicle,any one who want it please contact me by jinbaitaimachinery@gmail.com

BriceK51 year ago
Iv had an idea for a while now but never had an electric car to test it but maybe someone on hear might. Im an aircraft tech and on some aircraft there is what we call a R.A.T. its an emergency generator that pops out and is powered by a prop, (works like a windmill). Iv allways wondered if the same idea could be use on an electric car. Maybe have a couple altenators driven by props and some kind of air inlet to feed air to the props. Not sure how to convert alts to higher voltage but im sure somebody could figure it out and yrs it would only charge at speed but your not using juice sitting still either.

The props would add drag and it will end up using more energy then it can put back in to the battery.

Isack81 year ago

can this be done to an automatic transmission?

kiro_2042 years ago

A question???

Really love your electric conversion post. I was kind of curious and want to ask a question. I really love automatic transmission but its very complicated mechanism, and electric cars solve the problem quite well. Just dont have transmission... it is so cool. But there are no electric cars with reasonable milage... so... Could something like that happen? A regular combustion engine (serves like a battery) connected to a electric generator, next connected to a electric motor and wheels. No direct connection between engine and wheels -> no stalling or uncomfortable changing gears. Just an electric motor charged by combustion engine. Something tells me that in that way, the vehicle can use smaller engine (less polution and less money). And every system will work.

This is exactly how the Chevy volt works
farna2 years ago

Cheapest way to add range is to install a small generator -- even a little 700W (running, 900W peak), $99 Harbor Freight unit would add a LOT of cruising miles. It would sip gas, so you'd get 70+ mpg, and could even use fewer batteries for less weight. The 20 mile range car would get triple the range, as the batteries would mostly be used for taking off, cruising would run mainly on the generator. Would take some work on the control side though. Should be able to rig the generator basically as a battery charger and run it all the time, that would be the simplest way. It would only run at higher speeds when there was a lot of current draw. Just make sure the generator exhaust is run out of the car... sort of goes without saying! Makes it a hybrid instead of true electric, but would be more practical. The generator could provide all cruising electricity. Ideally you'd want a little more generator than required for cruising so the batteries would get a little extra charge for when you get back in town.

67spyder farna2 years ago

At 100 Kmph my Nissan Leaf (one of the most aerodynamic cars on the road) draws about 15000 watts of power, that is getting to be a pretty good sized gen set.

farna 67spyder2 years ago
That's a lot more than I thought it would be! Anything over a 5K generator would be rather large, 2500-3000W would be a better physical size. So you could add some miles, but not quite enough to cruise on... unless you built something like a trailer with a large generator on it. Would be good for long range running, and would be a bit more efficient than a typical gasoline car, but you may as well just rent a small car when you need to make a long trip, assuming your normal commute is short enough for an electric car (or hybrid with a small generator). Might double range with a small generator, but more than likely not add more than 20-30% -- depends on a lot of variables. May as well add 2-3 more batteries for the space and weight of the generator...
67spyder farna2 years ago

My thought was to take a more direct approach and use a small 10HP diesel engine driving a single wheel behind the car. Put the whole assembly on a receiver hitch so it can be removed and put on for the 4 highway trips per year that I take. This would eliminate all the inefficiency losses due to running a generator and converting the power in the battery charger. The drive could be direct through a chain with a clutch to engage/disengage the drive once highway speed is reached. The electronics in the car would simply perceive the entire trip as being downhill or with a very strong tailwind!

farna 67spyder2 years ago

Hmm... interesting, but more complicated. Generator just requires an electric cord connection. A mechanical engine as you describe would basically be one speed. You would still need a clutch connection (maybe electric, like a riding lawn mower blade clutch) and some kind of throttle. Otherwise the electric motor would be "helping" the engine at times. Maybe a one-way clutch so the engine never put a drag on the electric motor? Still think that would be a lot more complicated and harder to implement than a generator. Easiest thing to do is just rent a car for longer trips. Would be cheaper in the long run! I had a friend who didn't own a car, just his bicycle and public transportation. Rented a car 4-5 times a year for longer trips, even a weekend for Christmas shopping. No car insurance or maintenance, nor of course payments, just $1000 or so a year in rental fees. Would work with an electric car for commuting if it has the range.

bennelson (author)  farna2 years ago
Been there, done that, wrote the Instructable on it. https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Plug-In-Hybrid-Car/
I
t worked fine, but the main drawbacks were how much cargo space got used up, and the noise from the generator. Generator exhaust was routed through the bottom of the cargo area and through a riding lawn mower muffler!

does any one remember the electric car made by a magazine back in the 1970s? I don't know if it was Popular Mechanics or some such. They took a small car and took out the engine. They put a big electric motor used to turn over jet engines. A few batteries were installed to run the motor...to keep it charged a small Briggs & stratton motor kept the batteries charged. It worked...If any one has a copy of that article I would sure like to see it...thanks...anthony barbuto...poughkeepsie NY...barbuto@optonline.net

Mechanics Illustrated, great mag, long gone by the wayside. I think they stopped publications back in the 80's. They had plans for several interesting cars. My favorite was a surfer van build on a VW bug Chassis out of 2" foam board and then fiber glassed inside and out. Always wanted to build that, kept the issue around for years, finally gave up and recycled it during my last move about 10 years ago.

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