The Internet produces so many rabbit holes to explore. I recently wandered down some of those paths as I found some classic vehicles with EV swaps. The one that got me the most was an all-electric Defender climbing stream and the only noise was the creek streaming by and the sound of the tires crunching rocks.
This sent me searching for more and more information on converting a classic to an EV. EV West and Electric GT are the two companies that popped up the most in the searches. EV West has had a land speed record EV and competed at Pikes Peak. Electric GT has had a Ferrari 308 conversion and is coming out with their own EV crate motor that even looks like a V8.
But how much does an actual electric vehicle conversion cost?
The cheapest EV West kit is $7,600 and that does not include the vehicle that you will be converting. Rich Rebuilds is a YouTuber with close to a million followers, so he’s either really knowledgable or a complete dullard who is entertaining to watch. I’m leaning more towards knowledgeable, but reserve the right to adjust that opinion. Rich breaks down in this video the actual cost behind building an EV from an Audi A5. He includes the donor car price.
If you are looking for a more spreadsheet-based explanation, the team at EV4U also has a detailed explanation of the total cost of building an EV. They leave out the donor car price.
Why so expensive?
The most expensive item in a DIY EV is still the most expensive item in a factory-built version: batteries. Batteries are becoming more and more in demand in all parts of our lives. Cell phones, Kindles, EVs, solar-powered everything, and more. Finding cheap components is the biggest hurdle and with EV builds becoming more popular the budget build is getting harder to pull off.
There is some hope in the form of solid-state batteries coming in the near future, but again, that’s in the future. Twice the range with half the time to charge would be amazing upgrades, but so far they do not exist yet in the consumer market. Maybe, this year in 2021. That’s refreshing to say, “2021.”
You can still pull off a budget EV, but it takes getting some amazing luck! Check out Rich’s Mini that he built for $3,000, including the car!
Would I love to build a squarebody Suburban EV? Yes, so much room for batteries! Someone will probably beat me to it while I’m still saving the money to build it…