Electric Car Conversion 101 video 001

video Electric Car Conversion 101 video 001
The first video in a new series showing how to convert a Dodge Neon to a 300V AC electric car.

This video jumps right into the hard stuff first - building the adapter plate to connect the motor and transmission.
jpike118 days ago

Videos are broken

serendip0627 days ago

I hope someone can/will answer this. I don't know where else to go.

Picture a converted pickup (e.g. Ford Ranger). With on-board battery pack it would have 20-30 mile range before it needs a re-charge.

Would a gas powered generator mounted in the bed and wired into the system be able to provide enough power to keep the vehicle running and re-charge the battery pack while driving. Run the generator until the bp is recharged and then turn it off, until the next re-charge?

Has anyone tried this, or know of anyone who has? Did it/would it work?

bennelson (author)  serendip0626 days ago
Yes, you can put a generator in the back of an electric pickup and essentially convert it to a plug-in hybrid.... BUT:

You will need a really large generator. At that point it should be on the other side of a firewall and have a good exhaust system and noise control on it. It will also add significant weight and take up most of the cargo space.

A friend of mine added a generator on occasion to his electric pickup. If needed, he would stop for a while and run the generator to recharge his battery pack. To drive AND recharge you would need an even LARGER generator. (For example, the Chevy Volt does NOT recharge the main battery pack while driving on the engine.)

So, yes you CAN do it, although I haven't seen anyone do it really effectively yet. If you did, you would really want to design the vehicle from the ground up as a hybrid, rather than an EV with a generator added as an after-thought.

Another way to do it would be to build a hybrid with through-the-road power of either an electric motor OR an engine. At some point, it's more efficient to run an engine through a transmission to the wheels than to generate electric energy, convert it to mechanical energy, and then put it to the road.

A four-wheel drive pickup with an engine on one axel and an electric motor on the other would be a VERY interesting project!

Thank you for the answer. Wow, I hoped I would eventually get an answer, but I certainly didn't expect one so quickly!

Several years ago I saw an article in Mother Earth News about a gas-hydraulic drive vehicle that got near 70mpg. Short version: a 16 hp gas engine, running at its "sweet spot" (most efficient rpm) powered a hydraulic pump which fed into an accumulator. When the accumulator was fully charged, the gas engine shut off.

The hydraulic pressure in the accumulator was used to power a hydraulic motor attached to the auto's differential to drive the vehicle.

When fully charged, the accumulator had more than enough stored power to start the vehicle (a VW bug) from a stop and accelerate to cruising speed. Once at cruise speed, when pressure in the accumulator dropped to a preset level, the gas engine/pump assy. would kick in. At cruise, the engine/pump provided enough power to power the vehicle AND recharge the accumulator.

The accumulator gets fully charged - engine/pump shuts down - hyd. motor runs off of accumulator pressure - pressure in accumulator drops to the preset level - engine pump starts up to recharge accumulator - repeat as necessary - ...

I started to do one of these conversions and got as far as pricing parts and found out that hydraulic components are stinkin' awful EXPENSIVE!

So, I wondered if the same concept would transfer to EVs for a little less cost (I actually hoped for a LOT less cost), but it seems not. My reason for thinking about this in the first place was to be able to take an extended road trip. The idea of stopping to recharge the batteries with a small generator is something I'll be pondering.

Again, thank you for the info.

qazwsx7553 years ago
How many rpm is that motor rated for?
bennelson (author)  qazwsx7553 years ago
I'm not sure off hand. I'm the guy who did the video. Tom's the guy who built this car. He's the electrical genius.

I don't think it's a particularly high rev motor. He did do the math, and it worked out to get to highway speeds just fine within specs of the motor.

could you make an instructable or something on how to build all the power brakes,steering, etc.

Also how much does the car weigh?
Thank you soooo much!
What are the specs of his motor? And how does the A/C work??? Thanks
bennelson (author)  jimmerforpoy4 years ago
 I don't think that version of the car came with air conditioning.

The motor is an industrial Baldor brand AC motor. I believe it's a 20 hp.
(removed by author or community request)
bennelson (author)  jimmerforpoy4 years ago
 Sure you can have air conditioning in an Electric Car!

Just hook up an electric motor to the AC compressor instead of a belt off an engine.

In fact, the EV-1, GM's first electric car, could even heat or cool itself BEFORE you got in it! Pretty neat, hey?!

Another example is the air conditioner on the Prius, which runs off the battery. What other car can you have air conditioning WITHOUT the engine running!?

Keep in mind that energy for air conditioning has to come from somewhere. Since many folks with "home conversions" are using plain old lead-acid batteries, the focus tends to be on conservation of energy to maximize range.

On the new electric car coming out, like the GM Chevy Volt, and the Nissan Leaf, they will have air conditioning to keep you nice and cool!

is there a easy cheap way to put it in? and what HP was your car? all the motors i am finding are really big but only 3/4 hp to 2hp Would those work?
and they say 240-460 volts
would this one work?
sorry for all the questions, please answer.
Arjen784 years ago
First of all congrats for the nice results! really inspiring!
I also really enjoyed the Metro conversion!

Q: is leaving the original clutch in place also an option? or would that be burning soon because of the extra torque that comes with the electric motor?

grtz and respect

bennelson (author)  Arjen784 years ago
Going with or without a clutch is personal preference more than anything.

Clutchless is very simple. It works fine. No messing around with careful measurements and figuring out how to attach the flywheel to the electric motor.

I think clutchless is best when it is on a lighter vehicle with a higher voltage. That way, shifting is minimal. In my Metro, I shift very little, using mostly just 2nd and third. Also, that car is used mostly in town, with a 35 MPH speed limit max, so I just don't need to get from 0-65 quickly, such as you do getting on the freeway.

Tom's Dodge Neon is all electric, without a clutch.
He goes through all the gears, but needs a fancy little system to run his AC controller to make everything work right. He's an engineer and loves the challenge, but it's maybe a little complicated for the regular guy.

My friend Brian has converted two pickup trucks to all electric. Both had the clutch, and 24, 6V batteries, which is a LOT of weight. I drove his truck once and was impressed that it drove very similar to my gasoline S10 truck.

To leave the clutch intact, you need to take careful measurements of the original gasoline system, so that the final distance between clutch and flywheel are the same when you put the flywheel on the electric motor.

You will have to figure out exactly HOW you attach the flywheel to the motor.

Sometimes people with use a replacement for the flywheel, or cut the flywheel down on a lathe. You need the surface area of the flywheel to mesh with the clutchplate, but you don't need the weight of the flywheel. The weight helps make a gas engine run smoother. Additional weight on an electric motor just makes it a little harder for the motor to spin.

Additionally, your electric motor needs to have bearings in it that are designed to take the force of clutch pushing against the shaft of the motor.

Hope that helps!

-Ben Nelson

I have heard of guys using "racing clutches" in EV conversions. Supposedly they grip better and can take the extra torque better than a standard clutch.

Porschmn5 years ago
A comment if your making an instructional video could you include things like the size of wire and lugs you used to wire the batteries in series, the thickness of the plate steel you used for the motor & tranny mount and which motor mounts you used on the neon (the front and back lower mounts or the ones up by the strut towers, or did you make new ones, some close ups of the engine controller we talked about earlier. Brand names of the batteries, battery chargers, what of the existing neon wiring, gages etc. that you used. 
Porschmn5 years ago
Since your using a AC motor instead of a DC motor what are you going to as a controller, are you building one or buying or am I getting ahead of the video's you have coming out?
Thank you bennelson, I will go to youtube for more info.  Look forward to more from you and Tom.
Thanks again
bennelson (author)  Porschmn5 years ago
 The car is going to be using the original industrial motor controller that operated the motor in the first place.

The controller either could operate off AC OR DC, or it was only some simple modification to make it run on DC, I don't remember which.

Still, even on DC, it needs a HIGH VOLTAGE input, so there are a LOT of batteries in the car. That is covered in later videos.

All of the videos on my EV Geo Metro and the ones on Tom's Dodge Neon can be seen on my YouTube account:

avatar_i5 years ago
I really like the series and am aching to try this myself! Silly question- maybe- because I am not a computer geek in any sense of the phrase, but- Is there any way to get the videos as a download so I can watch them at leisure and study them better?
bennelson (author)  avatar_i5 years ago
There are a number of software programs that allow you to download videos from places such as YouTube. Also, there are a few web pages that let you do the same (for free!) You might want to try a site like

Also, I am working on an instructional DVD on my Geo Metro, and will probably end up working with Tom to make some long form video about his Neon.

Probably the best place to keep up on these electric car projects is through my YouTube page at:
It would be nice if they were on a link in instructables to make it easier... I do have V-downloader, but it did not work on th Instructables pages: BUT if all of your videos are on youtube, I guess I can get them there, thanks! Jack
superyunji5 years ago
Does this car just plug in and charge?
o0mouse0o5 years ago
Without a clutch how will you match the motor and wheel speeds when changing gear?
bennelson (author)  o0mouse0o5 years ago
It's far easier than you think.

Just let off the go pedal, pull the stick out of gear, and gently push it into the next gear. All you need to do is let the motor spin down for just a moment.

On my car, I let somebody test drive it last weekend. It took him about 15 seconds to get the hang of it.

Also, because an electric motor has so much torque, you can just change gears less often. My car can pull away from a dead stop in 4th gear, although that does pull a lot of amps. I can put it in 3rd gear and use it like drive between 0 and 35 mph.
vatosupreme5 years ago
Did you make a key way for the clutch plate insert on the coupler? I wonder if a weld is going to hold under a fast start, or just spin inside the coupler. Also, You should put links to the next video in the series here, it will make it easier to watch the series.
bennelson (author)  vatosupreme5 years ago