Electric Vehicle Retrofitting: Current Status, Potential, and Hurdles Exploring the Landscape of Electric Vehicle Retrofitting


As the world shifts towards sustainable transportation, electric vehicles (EVs) have gained immense popularity due to their eco-friendliness and efficiency. However, not everyone can afford to buy a brand-new electric car. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: electric vehicle retrofitting. This process allows you to convert your existing gasoline-powered vehicle into an electric one, reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money in the long run. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of electric vehicle retrofitting and explore its benefits, challenges, and steps involved.

What is Electric Vehicle Retrofitting?

Electric vehicle retrofitting, often referred to as EV conversion, is the process of replacing a vehicle’s internal combustion engine (ICE) and related components with an electric powertrain, including an electric motor, batteries, and associated control systems. This transformation allows the vehicle to run solely on electricity, eliminating tailpipe emissions and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The Importance of Electric Vehicle Retrofitting in India

India has set ambitious targets for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and the reduction of carbon emissions from diesel and petrol engines by 2030. To achieve these goals, the country is gradually transitioning to electric vehicles. However, this transition cannot happen overnight. To fulfill its vision of reducing carbon emissions, India must focus on converting existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles into fully electric ones through retrofitting. This approach not only extends the lifespan of existing vehicles by 5-7 years but also avoids falling under the new scrappage policy.

The significance of retrofitting is particularly evident in the commercial vehicle (CV) sector. Retrofitting CVs results in a substantial reduction in carbon emissions and offers significant cost savings for end customers. In our experience, CV conversions in the 15-50 gross vehicle weight (GVW) range can yield over 60% in operating cost savings per kilometer, along with considerable maintenance cost reductions due to the significantly lower number of moving parts.

Why Electric Vehicle Retrofitting is Urgent in India

By 2030, the number of buses on Indian roads is projected to reach 3 million, and the volume of other public transportation vehicles will increase at a similar rate. If we continue to add more electric public vehicles to the existing fleet solely for reducing carbon emissions, our city roads will become congested. Therefore, the practical solution is to introduce a limited number of new electric vehicles while retrofitting existing vehicles to electric variants. This approach not only controls the total vehicle count but also reduces vehicular emissions.

Retrofitting holds particular significance in India due to the absence of indigenous technology tailored to the country’s tropical climatic conditions. Moreover, EVs still do not compete favorably on price in India, and there is a lack of customer commitment to transitioning to fully electric fleets.

Benefits of Electric Vehicle Retrofitting

The advantages of retrofitting are multifaceted:

Customer Benefits: Retrofitting reduces the operational costs of vehicles, extends their lifespan, and provides a sense of pride in contributing to sustainability.

Societal Benefits: Electric and hybrid vehicles are beneficial for public health and have a lesser impact on the global climate.

Government Benefits: Retrofitting decreases crude oil consumption, vehicular emissions, and spending on oil imports.

The electrification market in India is in its early stages, and the lack of charging infrastructure is a significant barrier to EV adoption. Therefore, retrofitted EVs can play a crucial role in introducing electric vehicles to the market, stimulating demand for charging infrastructure, localized components, batteries, service facilities, and a better understanding of usage patterns.

How to Convert Your Gasoline Vehicle into an Electric Car through EV Retrofitting

Converting a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle into an electric car via the EV retrofitting process is an exciting endeavor, but it comes with some considerations and challenges. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can transform your petrol vehicle into an electric one.

  1. Vehicle Selection:

Retrofitting a two-wheeler or a small car, like a Maruti 800, is generally easier than retrofitting a larger vehicle such as a minivan or an SUV.

Ensure that all internal components of your vehicle are in good working order. Check critical components like the transmission shaft for any fractures or cracks. Structural integrity is crucial for safety.

  1. Removing Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Components:

The first step in the conversion process is to strip the vehicle of all ICE-related components. This includes the engine, gasoline tank, muffler, exhaust system, starter, and radiator.

These components will be replaced with new electric counterparts, with the most vital being the electric motor. The size and type of motor used will depend on factors such as the vehicle’s size, performance expectations, and weight.

  1. Installing the Battery Pack:

The heart of any electric vehicle is its battery pack. You’ll need to decide between a lead-acid battery or a lithium-ion battery. Opting for a lithium-ion battery is often a wise choice.

Lithium-ion cells, which are smaller, lighter, and potentially offer longer ranges, will be used. However, they tend to be more expensive and require additional onboard protection devices.

The number of batteries required will depend on your vehicle’s specifications and the available space for installation.

  1. Additional Components:

Various other components are essential for the retrofitting process. These include a power controller to manage energy flow between the battery and motor, a charging system to replenish the batteries through an electric circuit, wire harnesses, and more.

  1. Cost Considerations:

The total cost of retrofitting will vary based on several factors, including the vehicle you’re converting, desired range, and performance levels.

Keep in mind that retrofitting a larger or more complex vehicle may entail higher costs.

Advantages of Retrofitting Technology:

From the perspective of the vehicle owner:

Reduced operational costs due to significantly lower electricity costs per kilometer compared to petrol or diesel.

Lower maintenance costs compared to ICE vehicles.

Reduced noise and vibration, especially when compared to older ICE light cargo vehicles.

The satisfaction of contributing to environmental sustainability by going green.


Disadvantages of Retrofitting Technology:

Battery placement may alter the vehicle’s weight distribution, potentially affecting stability compared to vehicles designed specifically for petrol or electric power.

The initial cost of retrofitting can sometimes exceed the cost of purchasing a new petrol-powered vehicle.

In conclusion, while retrofitting your vehicle into an electric one offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to carefully evaluate your needs, budget, and the feasibility of the conversion, especially for larger vehicles. It’s a step toward a greener and more sustainable future in transportation.

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