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It's Electric! USA Today: EV Conversions

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

When USA was pitched a decades ago about the growing network of people converting gas vehicles to electric, we were told there was no interest. Years later Thomas Peirpert, changed the tune with this video!

According to Thomas, "a small but expanding group of tinkerers, racers, engineers and entrepreneurs across the country who are converting vintage cars and trucks into greener, and often much faster, electric vehicles.

Despite derision from some purists about the converted cars resembling golf carts or remote-controlled cars, electric powertrain conversions are becoming more mainstream as battery technology advances and the world turns toward cleaner energy to combat climate change."

At the end of 2019, Kevin Erickson, a cargo pilot who lives in suburban Denver, bought the car for $6,500. He then embarked on a year-and-a-half-long project to convert the car into a 636-horsepower electric vehicle (475 kW), using battery packs, a motor and the entire rear subframe from a crashed Tesla Model S.

"This was my way of taking the car that I like — my favorite body — and then taking the modern technology and performance, and mixing them together," said Erickson, who has put about $60,000 into the project.

How much does it cost to convert an old car to electric?

Sean Moudry, who co-owns Inspire EV, a small conversion business in suburban Denver, recently modified a 1965 Ford Mustang that was destined for the landfill. The year-and-a-half-long project cost more than $100,000 and revealed several other obstacles that underscore why conversions are not "plug-and-play" endeavors.

Trying to pack enough power into the pony car to "smoke the tires off of it" at a drag strip, Moudry and his partners replaced the underpowered six-cylinder gas engine with a motor from a crashed Tesla Model S. They also installed 16 Tesla battery packs weighing a total of about 800 pounds (363 kilograms).

Most classic vehicles, including the Mustang, weren't designed to handle that much weight — or the increased performance that comes with a powerful electric motor. So the team had to beef up the car's suspension, steering, driveshaft and brakes.

The result is a Frankenstein-like vehicle that includes a rear axle from a Ford F-150 pickup and rotors from a Dodge Durango SUV, as well as disc brakes and sturdier coil-over shocks in the front and rear.

Although Ford and General Motors have or are planning to produce standalone electric "crate" motors that are marketed to classic vehicle owners, Moudry says it's still not realistic for a casual car tinkerer to have the resources to take on such a complicated project. Because of this, he thinks it will take a while for EV conversions to become mainstream.

"I think it's going to be 20 years," he said. "It's going to be a 20-year run before you go to a car show and 50 to 60% of the cars are running some variant of an electric motor in it."

But that reality could be coming sooner than expected, according to Mike Spagnola, president and CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade group that focuses on aftermarket vehicle parts.

He said that during SEMA's annual show in Las Vegas this fall, some 21,000 square feet (1,951 square meters) of convention space was dedicated to electric vehicles and their parts. That was up from only 2,500 square feet (232 square meters) at the 2021 show.

Now THAT is promising and look for the 2023 BidenMobile at SEMA in the new year!

Credits to USA Today and contributors.

By Jonathan David Lake

Father, grand and great grandfather

Founder: GreenTV

President: Auto Archives

Inventor ImmunaJuice

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