Any eco-minded gearhead is going to swoon over a Tesla, but what about those of us who can’t afford to shell out for something so…premium? That’s where an EV conversion comes in.

An EV conversion, or electric swap, is when someone takes a car that originally comes with an internal combustion engine and swaps it out for a battery and electric motor

An electric vehicle alteration can seem pretty die hard to even the most enthusiastic car lovers. To others, it’s a gnarly attempt at redefining a vehicle’s factory specs, making it an impressive feat. 

Whichever side of the spectrum you lie on, one thing’s for certain. The EV conversion is eco-friendly, and that’s a noble act worth fawning over.

What kind of car is good for an EV conversion?

Any car with a roomy chassis and strong foundation of parts will be suitable for an electric vehicle swap. In the past, folks have swapped everything from a classic Ford Fairline to a BMW 3 Series. Many of the contenders are classics in their own right, so the fact they’re transformed into an electric vehicle just makes it all the more spectacular.

Check out Scottish actor Ewan McGregor’s 1953 VW Beetle EV swap, shared by EV West of San Marcos, CA:

One British Ford engineer even transformed the controversial Ford Probe into an electric vehicle. It’s safe to say that Americans hated the Ford Probe, mostly due to the fact that it was marketed as a sports car but held front wheel drive — so I don’t think anyone was complaining about this one. 

After the swap, the vehicle held an HPEVS AC-50 electric motor, rated at 71 horsepower and 120 pound-feet of torque. Its maximum all-electric range is 69 miles.

This person added a fancy interface to make their electric swap even more Tesla-like

Sam Polyak is a professional EV tuner who developed the PolyKup MCU. A New Jersey company, PolyKup specializes in EV conversions and EV hardware, and the Main Computer Unit is not to be messed with.

In 2018, he finished a Tesla-swapped Audi S5 that featured the PolyKup MCU.

 

Polyak touts the PolyKup MCU as being similar to Tesla’s interface system. The computer helps provide EV conversion cars with a comprehensive information display specifically tailored to the needs of an electric vehicle. It’s also an infotainment operating system, which just makes this MCU even cooler.

PolyKup removes your existing display and mounts their MCU centrally on the dash. The interface can easily work in tandem with any existing technology. On it, you can see crucial details like charge level, battery health, speed and RPM, to name a few. Best of all, it works with a plethora of different electric motors and battery management systems, so you don’t need a Tesla remake for it to work.

Once you have your EV swap all done, investing in a PolyKup MCU is simple. The system starts at just $999 — considering all that it provides, I don’t think that’s a half-bad deal. 

An EV swap isn’t cheap, but it is more affordable than a new ride

It’s worth noting that an EV conversion is currently a pricey endeavor. It’s slowly becoming more affordable for the average driver, but doing it yourself will set you back upwards of $11,000not including the donor car itself.

Hire a company to perform the swap for you and you might shell out up to $18,000 for the job. Premium companies might even charge more, but it feels like price gouging to me. 

Oh, and one more thing: a lead acid battery pack will likely only last you 2–5 years. You’ll have to spend another $3,500 or so to replace it when it dies. Maybe all that money you’ll save on gas each year (experts estimate electricity costs at 2–5 cents per mile) will make up the difference.

Is it progress, or sacrilege?

A lot of electric vehicle conversions are performed on classic cars. Traditionalists deem it a sacrilege, considering someone’s going in and tinkering with something they love. But others view the EV swap as an ingenious form of progress, especially considering the electric market is slowly but surely ramping up in popularity.

In my opinion, it’s a solid way to repurpose existing gas-guzzlers. Since “reuse, reduce, recycle” is listed in order of importance, there’s no denying that’s an eco-friendly way to live.

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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