Tech Guide: Buying A Build Your Own Electric Car Kit
The possibilities are somewhat endless if you buy a build your own electric car kit.
Think about it.
With an electric car conversion kit, you can transform any vehicle into a sustainable steed. For example, you could take a classic VW Beetle, apply electric parts to it, and Bob’s your uncle.
You’re now the proud owner of an EV.
It won’t be as powerful as a fresh-out-the-factory model (obviously), but it will identify as an electric type.
No one will be able to take that away from you.
Building an EV from what feels like scratch instantly pricked the ears of hobbyists and those looking to pick up a new pastime.
YouTube is full of successful car transplants/builds if you’d like to get an idea of what is possible before we get into it.
Today we’ll be looking at electric car conversion kits in detail.
Covering everything from classic electric car conversion kits to Tesla Swaps.
And yes, this will include the cost associated with buying an electric car conversion kit in the UK.
Will you install the electric parts or seek the help of a professional?
How Does A Build Your Own Kit Work?
Electric cars are fundamentally the same as standard combustion types, give or take a few key parts.
If a car kit is the recipe, you are the chef — or, in this case, mechanic.
To build an electric car you need to have the following ingredients:
- Electric Powertrain
- Additional Connecting Components
- And a donor car to put it all in
You can begin the process once you have all that.
And have an idea of what you’re doing, obviously.
Building an EV from what feels like scratch isn’t so difficult, as long as you get your hands on the right parts/kit.
Time should also factor in, as it will take you hours to craft — longer if you have to wait for certain parts to arrive before you can continue the build.
Some of you reading this will struggle with converting your car to electric.
That’s a straight-up fact.
The best piece of advice we can give is to treat it like you would a Lego set.
Sure, it’s slightly more complicated than mashing together a few plastic blocks, but you get what we mean.
Different cars might require a different approach, which is why you must map out what you need ahead of time.
People tend to convert classic cars to electric more than anything else, like Mini’s and Beetles. Basically, anything before 2005 gets the conversion treatment.
It’s for this reason that the majority of kits you’ll find fit the ‘classic car electric conversion kit’ mould.
Understand that some vehicles are a lot easier to convert than others. Some are a lot cheaper, too.
Parts: Electric Car Conversion Kit Cost
Buying a build your own electric car kit is expensive. Let’s make that abundantly clear before we get into the specifics.
You’re essentially carving out existing parts and implementing electric replacements.
How could this not be an expensive process?
Expect to pay thousands for an electric car conversion kit. And expect to import a lot of the parts from overseas.
Another option would be to seek out your local mechanic and enquire about certain parts.
Buyers have one of two options:
- Look for an electric car conversion kit
- Or buy the parts separately
Finding a conversion kit that has everything included is a lot harder vs buying the parts you need separately.
EV Europe is currently selling a Universal EV Kit that should apply to any vehicle. The kit ranges from €6,670 to €26,700. How much you pay depends on what you need and the parts you choose.
The site also has dedicated kits for specific vehicles. Going in this direction is better if the vehicle you want to convert is listed.
The price might be a little higher than the Universal EV Kit, but at least the parts are optimised for the vehicle you want.
You’ll notice a drastic difference in performance by buying smart.
The internet will be your best friend if you choose to source parts separately.
As you can imagine, the price of a decent electric battery on its own can be pricy. The same goes for an electric powertrain.
Buyers could take the eBay route for sourcing pieces of the puzzle. Still, the quality of these parts can differ from seller to seller.
Installation: Electric Car Conversion Kit Cost
We’d recommend you visit a dedicated mechanic/specialist if you want the job done right — unless you’re a dab hand with a spanner, that is.
Getting someone else to install the kit for you will add additional costs on top of what you’ve already paid for parts, but you’ll be guaranteeing it runs.
We estimate that it will cost around £6,500 to £7,000 to have these electric parts installed. Again, this price isn’t fixed as it is based on the complexity of the task at hand.
Better range will typically require more manpower to fit, which raises the price of the installation.
For example, taking Tesla parts and putting it inside a Porsche 911 costs hundreds, if not thousands more compared to others.
If you can afford it, great.
But for those of you with a limited budget, you might find yourself settling for less range/speed in order to proceed.
Sure, you could try to build your own electric car kit straight out of the box, but as we’ve touched on already, doing so comes with a level of risk.
And for the price you’ve paid for certain parts (i.e. batteries), you don’t want anything to go to waste should it break.
Not every mechanic will be able to install the kit for you either. Nine times out of ten, you will need to visit a specific shop to have your electric car conversion kit installed.
Expect the price of electric installations to increase as time goes on.
At the moment, driving around in a classic car with electric parts is somewhat of a niche concept.
But when the UK bans combustion types, you’re going to see a lot more electric conversions, which could cause the price of installations to skyrocket.
What Is The Cheapest Car To Convert?
On average, buyers will pay around £7,000 for conversion kits tied to standard vehicles.
Classic sports cars raise that total to the prices starting from £11,000.
On the other hand, buying parts separately will cost a lot more. So if you’re looking at working on a cheap project, then you should be looking at car conversion kits above all else.
Most kits utilise the same parts, be it batteries or additional components.
This is the reason why the majority of kits are set at the same price.
In our opinion, the best and cheapest electric car to convert is the Toyota MR2.
Ripping this car from 1984 and giving it an electric makeover is cool for many reasons. The most notable being the fact that it’s an iconic vehicle that defined its era.
A mobile time capsule, if you will.
It’s also quite a popular conversion amongst those in the community, meaning it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a kit online.
Price-wise, the cost to convert the MR2 is around that £7,000 mark we’ve touched on above.
Personally, if we could choose any vehicle to convert using a build your own electric car kit, we’d have to go with the BMW E30 M3 from 1992.
We don’t think we’d ever drive anything else ever again.
Remember To Re-Register Your Converted Electric Car
Any alterations to an existing car will mean you need to re-register that vehicle under UK law. It’s pretty much the law everywhere, to be honest.
You will need to register the vehicle as new. Those who convert their vehicle will also need to include a specific form in with the application (Form V627/1 – ‘Built Up Vehicle Inspection Report’).
The form will ask you to include the serial/ID number, make and origin of the installed parts.
Buyers will have a full section below to include any additional information.
Be sure to keep the receipts of the new parts you buy, too, as this is required when registering a kit-converted vehicle.
Here is a full list of what you need:
- Form V627/1 – ‘Built Up Vehicle Inspection Report’
- Original Vehicle Registration Certificate
- Evidence Of Type Approval (If Necessary)
- Receipts Of Parts Used
- Build Plans
- Photographs Of The Vehicle
You can always contact the DVLA if you have any questions.
Turn any ride into an electric one, that is the goal
Why Convert Via An Electric Car Conversion Kit?
To convert your car is to take a massive step into the future if you’ve never owned an electric vehicle prior.
The benefits of being an owner of a fully-fledged electric car extend to those who choose to convert their vehicles.
In other words, a car tuned up via an electric car conversion kit is in no way inferior to what you can buy in a showroom.
Besides, an electric VW Beetle or Totoya MR2 are unique in a completely different way, not to mention might have an established history with the driver.
It’s the same reason why a lot of people are seeking electric bike conversion kits (i.e. Swytch Kit) to keep a hold of a favoured ride without missing out on the electric revolution.
Familiarity with the vehicle in question is one of many reasons one might want to take advantage of a classic car electric conversion kit.
Converting A Car To Electric Improves Performance
Clearly, the reason why a lot of you will want to convert an older car to electric is to improve the performance of said vehicle.
Or to dust off an old favourite and bring it into the modern-day.
Either way, to convert a classic cart to electric is like having a brand new car in more ways than one.
The first thing drivers will notice is the increased quality of each drive, a hallmark of all EVs. Better performance is the byproduct of increased BHP and torque.
You see, electric cars can generate energy almost instantly, without the need to switch gears, as 90% of EVs don’t have gearboxes, to begin with.
It’s how you see electric cars going from 0 to 60mph in less than 4 seconds, with some doing it in around 2 seconds.
Picture it now.
You driving along the motorway in an electric Porsche 911 synced with Tesla parts, throwing it all the way back to 1999, just better.
We should point out that a converted electric car won’t be as performance-heavy as established EVs.
But still, it has the power to push well beyond most non-electric conversions from a performance standpoint.
Using A Build Your Own Electric Car Kit Cuts Saves Money
Another benefit of owning an EV is the reduced costs of maintaining it regularly.
No need for petrol means no trips to gas stations to fill up your car. With an EV, all you need to worry about is finding a charging point, or charging at home with the right unit, if you want it to run.
Charging at home is easily the best option of the two, and not that expensive as you might think. Ensuring you charge your vehicle during off-peak hours will be key in driving the price of your electricity bill down.
- After a decent home charging unit? Check out our guide of the best home EV charging stations of 2021 to find out more.
Moreover, fewer moving parts under the hood means you’ll spend less time making repairs and more time on the road.
Road tax happens to be a lot lower for eco-friendly vehicles. This means you’ll be paying significantly less annually as converted vehicles emit next to zero emissions.
Converted Classic Electric Cars Are Better For The Environment
Improved air quality is another major factor when asking yourself if it’s worth converting your vehicle via a kit.
Let’s face it, some of the classic cars we’ve already mentioned weren’t known for being good for the planet. They were loud, and they produced a lot of carbon dioxide.
Successful transplants, on the other hand, are virtually noiseless and produce no emissions at all.
According to research by the European Energy Agency, the carbon emissions of an electric car are around 17% to 30% lower than driving around in the alternative.
Producing electric car batteries and other parts does require a lot of energy. Still, these emissions are weighted in the fact that these vehicles release fewer emissions over its life cycle.
Besides, new technologies, such as the recycling of car batteries, is starting to really amp up.
Doing your part to help the environment can be fulfilling.
And no one said you had to buy a brand new EV to do that when you can upgrade an older type with an electric car conversion kit.
Build Your Own Electric Car Kit: A Project Worth Taking
If you know what you’re doing and are confident, then there is nothing more fulfilling than getting a project like this off the ground.
You need only visit online forums like Piston Heads or Reddit to see the amount of joy hobbyists get from taking a classic car and bringing it into the modern-day.
It doesn’t have to be a classic car either.
If you head over to YouTube and type in “Electric Car Kit” in the search bar to find videos of converted Mini Coopers and Mazda MX5s.
You can turn any car into an electric one, even regular EVs, if you’re looking for an upgrade. Conversions known as ‘Tesla Swaps’ or ‘Tesla-Swapping’ have picked up a lot of traction online.
The most notable being a Tesla-fied version of our dream ride, the BMW E30.
The electric modding community runs deep and is a very welcome place to be, regardless of your skill level.
Sharing a successful conversion online is simply part of the process once you’ve finished.
Be Warned: It’s hard to stop at one build your own electric car kit project. Once you’ve done one, you’ll want to carry on and start another.
Hobbyists around the world currently drive around in a converted EV
Tech Guide: Buying A Build Your Own Electric Car Kit
And there you have it.
That’s how you can reap the rewards of a build your own electric car kit in the UK.
It’s an expensive process, but if you have access to a classic car ready for a transplant, then we’re going to assume you have the funds required for builds like this.
The cost of an electric car conversion kit is secondary compared to the thrill/satisfaction you get from driving around in an updated ride.
And as we’ve mentioned, there is no shortage of hobbyists working on their own vehicles in a bid to bring their prized possessions into a new decade.
Definitely keep us in the loop with your own newly converted EVs in the comments below.
In the meantime, we’ll just be planning that electric BMW E30 project we spoke about.
Electric Car Conversion Kit FAQs
Can an electric conversion kit be used on any car?
Practically any vehicle can be turned into an electric type as long as you have the chassis and the right conversion kit. Classic cars are amongst some of the more popular conversions, but Tesla-Swapping has changed the technical makeup of modern vehicles too.
How much does an electric car conversion kit cost?
The cost of converting a standard car to electric is between £6,000 and £30,000. If you care about performance/speed, then expect to pay slightly more for certain parts. Buying parts separately will cost more in the long run. Furthermore, remember to take into account installation costs If you aren’t building it yourself.
How expensive is a Tesla Swap?
Tesla-swapping is the act of taking parts from one EV to the other. Price-wise, a Tesla Swap will cost you around £20,000 to £35,000, which is significantly higher than some of the electric car conversion kits we’ve covered.