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 Retrofitting Technology to Convert Conventional Cars into EV

Looking up the dictionary, one would stumble upon the definition of retrofitting as “to furnish (something such as a computer, airplane, or building) with new or modified parts or equipment not available or considered necessary at the time of manufacture.” That is what retrofitting is in the literal sense. Now let’s see it in the terms of electric vehicles.

To furnish (combustion engine and petrol tank) with new or modified parts or equipment (motors and batteries/fuel cell) not available or considered necessary at the time of manufacture.

History of Retrofitting Technology

Historic 1998 decision by the Supreme Court of India to phase out diesel buses from the roads of Delhi. The then-record levels of pollutants in the air compelled the Supreme Court to grant relief to the citizens.

Well, what was the point of the verdict? The bench proposed that the highly polluting buses are either taken off the roads or the diesel engine be replaced with a cleaner alternative. Retrofit it with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The decision was well thought out and necessary for the safety of citizens and to ensure a citizen’s right to clean air.

Delhi with and without (or very low) levels of Air Pollution

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Now, let’s jump back to the present day. Even though the amount of emissions per vehicle is decreasing due to improvements in technology, pollution levels are rising once again as the number of vehicles is increasing to meet the growing population. In such a situation, a similar policy can be expected from the government.

As I mentioned, the first solution was to retrofit diesel buses with CNG, and now the time has come for the entire engine to be replaced with motors that are powered by either batteries or fuel cells. But yes, retrofitting is a plausible solution.

What is Needed for  Retrofitting your Car? 

Now that we know what retrofitting is, we can now learn what is needed to retrofit your car. 

The safest method is to take your car to one of the certified retrofitters who have experience and are well versed in this regard. (Note: Companies providing retrofitting services are discussed later).

However, if you have decided to Retrofit your car by yourself, you have several options. Either you can order a retrofit conversion kit from one of the companies, bundled with all the necessary equipment, and shipped to you. Or instead, you can choose to ditch the online shop for all the parts and get them to work yourself. It all depends on your commitment and the purpose of the project. But please, bear in mind that all the retrofitted vehicles (especially done by yourself) may not be street legal in your constituency. 

What’s included in a Conversion kit? 

  • Motor
  • Controller
  • Shunt
  • Transmission adapter kit
  • Charger 
  • Chill plate
  • DC/DC converter
  • Throttle controller
  • Controller mount 

On the assumption that you have decided to retrofit your car on your own, which one would you need? Let’s see.

How Do I Convert my ICE Cars to Electric Cars: Retrofit Technology

The first step is to zero in on the car you want to Retrofit. A light car like a two-wheeler or Maruti 800 is much easier to retrofit than to retrofit a minivan or sports utility car. Make sure its internal components are working. Elements such as the transmission shaft must not be broken or cracked. Or in other words, make sure the car is in good overall condition and is structurally sound.

The next step would be to convert a conventional vehicle to an electric car, removing all ICE-related hardware. Including engine, fuel tank, muffler, exhaust, starter, and radiator. They will be replaced by myriad components, the most important of which is the electric motor. The size of the motor used will depend primarily on the size of the vehicle, expected performance, and weight.

Next comes the battery pack, the powerhouse of electric vehicles. One would need to decide between a lead-acid battery and a lithium-ion battery (or go with a hydrogen fuel cell which is quite rare). Lead-acid batteries used in golf carts are often installed, although they generally provide a slim operating range on a single charge.

Next come lithium cells, which are smaller and lighter and can enable longer ranges but are more expensive and require more protection electronics on board. How many batteries will be required will depend on the vehicle and the available space in which they are to be fitted. 

You’ll also need a power controller to regulate the flow of energy between the battery and the motor, a charging system to replenish the batteries via an electric circuit, wiring harnesses, and myriad other components. 

The total cost will depend on the vehicle you’re modifying, the range, and the type of performance you’re expecting. But here’s a rough estimate of the cost you can expect to incur.

  • Tata Nano – 1 lakh Rupees
  • Yamaha bike – 70000-80000 Rupees

A Flowchart of the Conversion Process

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Images of the Retrofitted Car from Permaculture principles

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Have we piqued your interest in retrofitting your ICE Cars?

Here’s a youtube link from Mr. Hemank Dabhade from Northway motorsports that practically shows the conversion- Maruti 800 conversion

Here is the Retrofitting conversion of the Maruti 800 into a completely Electric Car  

Retrofitting Companies in India

The retrofitting process can be cumbersome and is not so straightforward for the layman. To cater to such customers, companies provide a retrofitting process for a small fee, help certify all government-related documents, and ensure that the vehicle is legal. They can also help you implement local government EV incentives that are hard to keep track of.

Following  are the Companies that Provide Retrofitting Services in India 

  1. E-trio | Hyderabad
  2. Loop moto | Gurugram 
  3. EV retron energies | Hyderabad
  4. Alti green | Bengaluru
  5. Cell propulsion | Bengaluru
  6. RACEnergy | Hyderabad
  7. Folks Motor | New Delhi
  8. Volta Automotive | Bengaluru
  9. Northway Motorsport | Pune

Also, there are other companies involved in the business of retrofication and this is not an exhaustive list. However, through this article, we are trying to present options to commuters looking to retrofit their vehicles.

Benefits of Retrofitting Technology

Not one, not two, But many. There are myriad benefits to retrofitting your ICE-powered car. 

From the customer’s point of view, 

  • you can reduce your operations cost as the cost of electricity per km is significantly less when compared to petrol or diesel
  •  The maintenance cost of an Electric vehicle is considerably less than that of an ICE vehicle
  • comfort – both mentally and physically. EVs do not suffer from excessive noise and vibration when compared to some old ICE light cargo vehicles. 
  • Adding to all those above, you would be proud that you are doing your bit to help the community go green 😊

Disadvantages of Retrofitting Technology

  • Batteries may need to be placed in different places. (i.e. the batteries may have to be kept in the rear of the vehicle or may have to be kept on the side for a two-wheeler). This increases the instability of the vehicle when compared to a vehicle designed for petrol or electric batteries.
  • The initial cost of retrofitting can exceed the cost of a new petrol vehicle.

Summary

Retrofitting your ICE-powered cars to electric cars can be a great option for you, as people are looking for fuel alternatives as fuel prices rise in India. Retrofitting technology is the best option to save your money.

Since electric cars have a lot of benefits for the environment as well as for you. The more electric cars there are on Indian roads, the more India will be able to reduce carbon emissions and as a result, we will all have a cleaner environment and cleaner air.

Go Electric Go Green 🙂

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