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How is it and how much does it cost to convert a car with a combustion engine into electric


The supply of electric cars is scarce and very expensive. The transformation of a conventional vehicle is a cheaper alternative and applicable to any model.

When one imagines an

electric car,

the image of a sophisticated, modern, avant-garde vehicle, and with a technological level well above the conventional vehicles that are currently sold, quickly comes to mind.

But there are alternatives to transform any type of model (yes, any) and convert it to electric after replacing the elements responsible for moving the wheels (motor) and providing energy (batteries).

It is a practice that, although it is not new, is quite unknown in our market.

It is a movement that has been converting vehicles in the region

for more than two decades

(yes, before electric cars began to become widespread in central markets) and that little by little is gaining more followers in our country.

For the conversion, the combustion engine is replaced by an electric one and the battery pack is added.

Photo: Juano Tesone

In addition, it appears as a more suitable alternative for markets like ours, where electromobility offered by large manufacturers is still

extremely expensive

(it can cost more than double that of an equivalent combustion vehicle).

What's more, in markets such as Europe or the United States, they continue to be more expensive than a combustion one despite the aid received from the states to promote this technology.


participated in a training course designed for workshops and individuals who are going to carry out conversions to understand what the process is like, what type of vehicles can receive an electric propulsion system and how much it costs.

Any car can be electric

The talk was organized in Argentina by the Prisma company, responsible for marketing conversion kits and electric chargers, among others, as well as offering conversions.

The person in charge of giving the course was Gabriel González, from Auto Libre, a Uruguayan organization that was born in 2002 and that since then

has been weaving a network of vehicle transformers

throughout South America.

The Prisma company carries out the conversion and sells the kits for the transformation.

Photo: Juano Tesone

The slogan is clear: the training is given to understand that the conversion is applicable to practically any vehicle and there is no standard in terms of design, since the ingenuity of each technician can bring new solutions.

The teams start with kits that

are sold from $12,000

and the company clarifies that they are "sold in pesos at the official dollar value."

There are engines from 28 kW (37.5 horsepower) up to 90 kW (120 horsepower).

Battery packs range from a capacity of 7.5 kWh to 60 kWh, so the combinations that can be given depend a lot on the purpose sought for the type of vehicle.

Giving new life to a classic car is not the same as transforming a cargo utility.

Vehicles can have a monitor with real-time statistics on the operation and consumption of the system.

Photo: Juano Tesone

The step by step sounds simple: you have to remove the combustion engine and replace it with an electric one and remove the fuel tank and place one or more lithium battery packs.

The rest is to plug them in and charge them to have accumulated energy.

But of course, before you have to solve a lot of details to be able to convert a car.

“First, what you have to do is define with the client what you are looking for with the conversion, in terms of power, acceleration and autonomy.

What use will it be given?

What we're trying to do is show that you don't always need super-high autonomy.”

Javier Idzi, one of the company's directors, specified in a chat with



The engineer also helped to clear up several doubts that arise when transforming a vehicle.

How does the transformation start?

- The first thing to do is weigh the vehicle in order to have a good weight distribution.

The engine is removed, the fuel tank is removed, that is, take out everything that is not going to be used.

Anyway, it's about keeping the vehicles as original as possible.

- And what about the engine control unit, which is also responsible for other vehicle functions?

- It is also evaluated whether or not to keep the ECU, since several functions need its "ok" to be able to work, such as the windshield wipers or the defrosters.

To retain those features we emulate the response from the ECU so they can continue to operate.

Javier Idzi, one of the directors of the Prisma company.

Photo: Juano Tesone

- What about the gearbox?

- It is maintained, mainly because of the differential and also because Argentine regulations require that the professional who is going to approve the vehicle later to make it legal to drive on public roads must have its parts validated.

You have to couple the engine to the original gearbox making the necessary mechanical modifications to achieve it.

Once this coupling is achieved, the rest of the elements can be dimensioned so that the vehicle is 100% electric.

- What about security systems?

- All vehicles with ABS come with a module that controls them and is independent of the ECU.

This type of modules continues to work without problems.

We have tested it on the Kwids we have converted.

The same goes for airbags.

- And with other functions of the car?

- They can continue working, but you have to know that the car will not have another alternator but it will keep the 12 volt system.

To support all the functions that depend on this system, a converter is installed that transforms the high voltage energy of the traction system into the 12 volts necessary to keep the battery powered.

In the case of air conditioning, the task is different, since removing the combustion engine also removes the original air conditioning and a new purely electric compressor is installed that does not work with a belt like the original.

The kit includes the charger inside the vehicle, so it can be plugged into any outlet.

Photo: Juano Tesone

- Can the cars that you convert be plugged into any electrical outlet?

- Yes, anyone.

In the models that we convert we have two options.

One that supports 2.5 kW of charging, generally for city vehicles, without the possibility of fast charging.

This means that when we plug it in we are going to consume 10 amps, a value that any plug is capable of delivering continuously.

Now, if we have the possibility of having a special outlet with the capacity to deliver between 20 and 30 amps, we have the possibility of charging at 5.5 kW, which halves the time.

- What autonomy do they give on average and how long does a charge take?

- Our vehicles have a capacity of 20 kWh of accumulated energy, which gives between 100 and 130 real kilometers of autonomy.

It is clear that it always depends on the driver and the conditions, the same as with a combustion engine: if you go full throttle you will consume more fuel.

To achieve that autonomy in a normal current socket we will need approximately 7 hours.

look too

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Source: clarin

All tech articles on 2023-05-04

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