These Racers And Mechanics Are Converting Classic Cars Into EVs

Kevin Erickson is a member of a small but growing group of tinkerers, racers, engineers, and entrepreneurs throughout the country who are transforming historic automobiles and trucks into greener, and often far quicker, electric vehicles. Kevin Erickson modified his 1972 Plymouth Satellite, the sound of the pistons pumping, gas coursing through the carburetor and the low thrum of the exhaust, was replaced with a faint hum.

Erickson paid $6,500 for the automobile. He then began a year-and-a-half project to turn the automobile into a 636-horsepower electric vehicle (475 kW) by repurposing battery packs, a motor, and the complete back 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

The Michigan-based firm conducted a web-based poll of approximately 25,000 self-identified vehicle fans in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in May. Approximately 1% had either partially or completely converted their classic to run on an electrified motor.

The top three reasons given by respondents for converting their vehicles were for faster acceleration and increased performance, a fun and demanding project, and environmental and pollution concerns. Approximately 25% of respondents said they support antique automobiles being partially or completely converted to EVs.

Challenges to convert an old car into an EV require the knowledge to embark on such a complex project, as well as safety concerns about fiddling with high-voltage components, the availability of parts, and the time required to make a beneficial environmental impact. Because historic vehicles are typically driven for less than 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) per year.

Some purists ridicule converted cars that resemble golf carts or remote-controlled cars. Electric powertrain conversions are becoming increasingly common as battery technology progresses and the globe shifts toward cleaner energy to battle climate change.

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