Author Topic: conversion to electric car possible?  (Read 4069 times)

lucyjupiter

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conversion to electric car possible?
« on: June 23, 2014, 12:59:43 PM »
Hi fellow Mustachians, I'm a new poster, and I'm excited to join the forums after following the blog for a few years. :)

I'm about to inherit a mid nineties Lincoln Town Car that used to belong to my grandparents and is reportedly in very good condition. (It's been driven and maintained regularly in the last few years, but IDK the mileage.) I'll have a 35-40 minute commute for around the next year, (I started a new job shortly after my husband and I renewed the lease on our apartment, which is extremely close to his job.) The Lincoln will probably be what I use primarily, and the length of the commute combined with the vehicle's fuel inefficiency are making me cringe at the car-clowniness of it all. But, there are emotional ties to the (free!) car that make me hesitant to immediately sell it and buy something more efficient.

To make the most of this free car, I was wondering whether anyone knows how viable it would be to convert the Lincoln into an electric and how much that might cost. (I'd be asking/hiring a friend who is a professional mechanic to do it.) That way I can keep the Lincoln and use less energy on my excessively long commute and thereafter. Is this even something that can be done? Would it cost so much money that it would render irrelevant the fact that the Lincoln was given to me for free? (Doesn't the idea of converting old cars into efficient electric cars sound wonderful?)

Also, I'm a very new driver/car owner, so there are a lot of basic things I probably don't know about car lifespan/maintenance that might factor in. Feel free to explain things as if you were explaining to a fourth grader--I won't be offended. I'm located in the triangle area of NC, if that makes any difference.

Many thanks!

ketchup

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Re: conversion to electric car possible?
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 01:13:42 PM »
I've looked into electric car conversions in the past (very possible, lots of info out there).  However, something like that Lincoln is probably not a great candidate due to its size and presumably, weight.  You'll need a powerful motor and lots of batteries to make it work.  Unfortunately, probably not cost-effective.  It'd most likely be cheaper to buy an additional, more suitable car and convert that.

frugalnacho

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Re: conversion to electric car possible?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 01:34:46 PM »
But, there are emotional ties to the (free!) car that make me hesitant to immediately sell it and buy something more efficient.

Why?

Also you state you are a new driver/car owner and don't know much about basic car maintenance.  What makes you think you would be able to convert your car to electric?

gimp

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Re: conversion to electric car possible?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 01:44:34 PM »
Not really.

AlanStache

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Re: conversion to electric car possible?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2014, 01:55:29 PM »
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_vehicle_conversion

"Full-size sedans and minivans are generally considered to be poor candidates for EV conversion. As the suspension and tires are already operating close to the maximum permissible[clarification needed], it may be necessary to make substantial modifications in these areas. It may be easier to obtain upgraded suspension components for some smaller vehicles, if these are also typically used for sports racing (particularly autocross). Starting with a heavy vehicle and adding batteries will result in poor performance in acceleration, handling, braking, and economy of operation.

One of possibilities is using the body of Audi's D2 platform A8 (19942003) Audi A8 or sports sedan S8 (19982003 or older European market models where the German model weights 1730 kg) Audi S8 both of which are all aluminium monocoque "Audi Space Frame" vehicle, which helped to significantly reduce weight without being any less rigid."

Am sure you could play with some cost numbers after an evening of googling.  But sounds like you would not come out ahead cost wise.

Jack

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Re: conversion to electric car possible?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 02:42:52 PM »
Sure, an electric conversion is possible, but it doesn't make even the slightest bit of sense.

Swapping in a Diesel truck engine would be a (marginally) less bad idea, but that wouldn't make any sense either.

You say you'll have a terrible commute "for around the next year." What happens after that? Will you still need a car? Does your husband have a less-terrible car you could commute in?

If you don't have a better car to use and you won't need a car at all a year from now, just drive the behemoth as-is. With the short time frame, you may not spend enough on gas to make up the difference between "free car" and "car that costs money" since you may have trouble finding something equally-reliable but more efficient for a similar price. By the time you're done needing it, you'll be so sick of the 15ish MPG that you'll no longer be emotionally attached to it and happy to sell.

On the other hand, if you plan to still need a car over the longer term, find some collector with really bad taste and get rid of the thing now. As for the sentimental value, suck it up. The car has way too little actual value to you for it to be a valid consideration.

Nords

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Re: conversion to electric car possible?
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 10:44:13 PM »
I'm about to inherit a mid nineties Lincoln Town Car that used to belong to my grandparents and is reportedly in very good condition. (It's been driven and maintained regularly in the last few years, but IDK the mileage.) I'll have a 35-40 minute commute for around the next year, (I started a new job shortly after my husband and I renewed the lease on our apartment, which is extremely close to his job.) The Lincoln will probably be what I use primarily, and the length of the commute combined with the vehicle's fuel inefficiency are making me cringe at the car-clowniness of it all. But, there are emotional ties to the (free!) car that make me hesitant to immediately sell it and buy something more efficient.

To make the most of this free car, I was wondering whether anyone knows how viable it would be to convert the Lincoln into an electric and how much that might cost. (I'd be asking/hiring a friend who is a professional mechanic to do it.) That way I can keep the Lincoln and use less energy on my excessively long commute and thereafter. Is this even something that can be done? Would it cost so much money that it would render irrelevant the fact that the Lincoln was given to me for free? (Doesn't the idea of converting old cars into efficient electric cars sound wonderful?)

Also, I'm a very new driver/car owner, so there are a lot of basic things I probably don't know about car lifespan/maintenance that might factor in. Feel free to explain things as if you were explaining to a fourth grader--I won't be offended. I'm located in the triangle area of NC, if that makes any difference.
I've researched this fantasy with a number of vehicles.  It sounds like a fun project.

There are plenty of conversions of Porsche 911s and Ford Ranger pickups, because both vehicles happen to have a design that accommodates a large pack of (heavy) lead-acid batteries.  Your vehicle is too big/heavy and can't handle the additional weight of the (cheaper) lead-acid batteries.  If you tried to go with (slightly) lighter Li-Ion batteries then you'd spend way more money on the batteries (and conversion labor) than you would on the cost of a used VW diesel sedan that gets over 50 MPG. 

For an EV conversion, you need an electronics tech and electrician as much as you need a mechanic.  I don't care how many professional certifications your mechanic friend has; unless he's worked on assembling matched sets of battery packs and done a half-dozen EV conversions then he's out of his circle of competence. 

Would your grandparents really want you to cope with keeping their two-decade-old car on the road?  If it's in such good shape then maybe you could wash & wax it (or spend a couple hundred bucks to have it detailed), sell it for top dollar to a Lincoln Town Car enthusiast (assuming such humans exist), and buy yourself a used VW diesel, used Nissan Leaf, or a used Toyota Prius. 

Or throw your bicycle in the back of the Lincoln, drive halfway, and bicycle the rest.

lucyjupiter

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Re: conversion to electric car possible?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2014, 09:59:40 AM »
Thanks for the input--it sounds like the consensus is that the car is too heavy for this to be a realistic idea to pursue. I'll drive it around for a few months and see if--like some people have said--the emotional attachment wears off and I feel up for selling it or passing it on to another family member.