What would be involved in converting an old SUV into an electric vehicle
January 2, 2014 3:29 PM Subscribe
This is just a thought experiment at this point, and probably will remain so. In the back of my mind I have the idea that when my old SUV finally gives up the ghost I might rip out the internal combustion drivetrain and convert it to an electric vehicle, possibly with a removable range-extender generator. Setting practicality aside for the moment, can you help me envision what this would involve?
posted by Scientist to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
So I'm already pretty sure that this idea is something that will never be practical to actually do, but nevertheless it's been itching at the back of my mind and I wanted to query the hivemind so that I could get a fuller picture of what all would be entailed and what the end result might look like.
I have an old SUV, a '94 4Runner, much beloved. It has lots of good points but fuel efficiency is not one of them, so I am often thinking about ways to make it into a more efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicle. The nuclear option, obviously, would be to tear out everything related to the internal combustion engine and retrofit the truck as an electric vehicle. I realize that this is the sort of thing that is more of a hobby activity for people with advanced mechanical and fabrication skills than a practical transportation option, but it's fun to think about.
In my mind, this is something I would do after some important and expensive component (i.e. the engine or transmission) finally dies and a retrofit is therefore a little bit more practical (assuming the rest of the car is still in good shape). I'm curious as to what would be involved as far as time, expense, equipment, parts, design, etc. The whole deal. I know only the vaguest stuff about this sort of thing, which is why I'm tapping AskMe's collective expertise.
The rough plan, as I envision it, would be to remove the engine and possibly the transmission, along with the gas tank and all the associated support hardware for same. I would then drop in a big ol' electric motor (not sure whether it would make sense to attach it to the existing automatic transmission, or put in a new one, or go direct drive or what) and install a big bank of lithium ion batteries under the carpet of the cargo area and/or in the area under the car previously occupied by the gas tank. It would charge from a 240v house line. I have no idea whether trying to implement a regenerative braking system would be at all sensible.
I also have the idea of putting an insulated box in the cargo area, with exhaust and intake ports, into which I could place a generator if I wanted to extend the vehicle's range and/or have portable charging capability. The normal (un-assisted) range for the vehicle would only need to be maybe 30 miles a day (mostly city driving, short bursts on the highway) with an 8-10 hour overnight charge, but the goal would be to extend it to maybe 100-200 miles with the generator installed.
So, setting aside the fact that this is probably not something that it will ever make sense for me to attempt, how would you go about doing something like this? What do you envision as the major hurdles? What gaping holes are there in my plan, and what haven't I thought of? I'd love to hear your thoughts about this.