A Government-sponsored car conversion scheme to electric.

Can it be done? Would it work? How much could it cost?

© Toni Massari, UK

Electric Vehicles are set to replace internal combustion transport in the next decade, as awareness of the impacts of Climate Change drive Governments to pass legislation that uses either regulation or market-based instruments (MBIs) to effect a migration to sustainable modes of transport. Already Electric car sales have soared in recent years, and many signatories to the Paris Accord are looking for ways to achieve carbon reduction targets by making grants and offering subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles. But manufacturing enough cars to replace a significant enough proportion of the world’s estimated 1.5 billion vehicles would generate unacceptable emissions, in a concentrated period. So, what if, instead, we were to convert enough vehicles to electric? We could reduce global emissions by a considerable amount, quickly and cheaply, while conserving energy and resources, and create new jobs to replace old ones.

A cursory search online will quickly reveal that this is not only feasible, but that there are dozens, possibly hundreds of examples on the internet, with videos, How-To guides and articles, not to mention manufacturers offering kits, in the US and China. Check out the Engine Replacement page of my website, that collates a random list of links.

Just by way of an illustration, here is a great site, called Electric Cars Are For Girls, by a woman in the US, who has completed her own car conversions without an electrical engineering background. This illustrates how it is both timely and appropriate to start formulating proposals for Governments to back a pilot projects aiming to not only demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of the conversion of standard vehicles to EVs, but also to:

  • create generic blueprint for components, ratings, wiring, controls etc.
  • assemble components’ lists to standardise kits for a range of vehicles
  • formulate a licensing agreements for garages, with affordable fees
  • offer EV repair and maintenance training courses for car mechanics
  • establish supply-chain links to manufacturers and suppliers
  • create buyers’ syndicates for participating garages buy kits in bulk
  • agree vehicle licensing standards for converted vehicles, with the UK’s MoT.

Battery type and charging.

One of the limiting factors to the feasibility of the scheme is the use Lithium in the batteries, the mining of which is extremely destructive and increasingly costly

Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Electrolytic Cells, to produce H2 from water, could offer a sustainable alternatives to these, but the technology is as yet expensive, entails safety risks and requires a hydrogen production and supply infrastructure that simply isn’t available, right now, nor is it in development, yet.

But now there is a new solution on the horizon: Aluminium-Air batteries that can be manufactured from recycled Al from many waste streams, most significantly, from drinks cans and food containers. These open-up the potential for schemes such as this, especially in the UK, home of inventor, Trevor Jackson, and his company, Metalectrique, that owns the intellectual property rights.

Steps to create a pilot project.

  1. Find postgraduate students in Electrical and/or mechanical engineering
  2. Obtain use of the facilities of a university, pro bono
  3. Procure a secondhand vehicle
  4. Purchase the necessary components:
  • the motor and the controller;
  • the (transmission) adapter plate;
  • the mounts and coupler;
  • throttle control and instrumentation;
  • charger; (if a rechargeable battery)
  • DC/DC converter
  • wiring and gauges
  • a bank of batteries*

*preferably the Al-O2 mentioned above

All this would require the creation of a consortium, or some other legal entity to undertake the work, negotiations and co-ordinate the pilot stage, but once a proof-of-concept and associated documentation have been presented, it would be possible to work with the Ministry of Transport on the licensing of such conversions, opening the way to full commercialisation in the UK and abroad.

About Me

In October 1992 I lost my little boy to a devastating diabetic hypoglycaemic attack, just 11 days after his 9th birthday. As a single parent with no family in the UK and few friends, I was left with an 11 year old daughter, devastated by the loss of her baby brother, whom she adored. We were both utterly broken.

Prior to moving to Bristol from London, just two years earlier, I had been working in Youth Work, but I had moved to escape the big city, and had become my son’s full-time carer. I had few friends in the cIty, no qualifications and only the prospect of low-paid jobs. I knew I had to do something to motivate my girl and I to go on studying and living. Except for my children, Environmentalism had been the only other passion in my life.

So, in September 1995 I enrolled on an Access to Environmental Science course, at South Bristol College, aged 40. The course equipped students with the basic scientific background to study those disciplines required to understand the compositions, dynamics and interactions the natural and built environments, and to manage human impacts on these. I passed with full credits and in 1996 enrolled at the University of the West of England, Bristol, Faculty of Geography and Environmental Management.

In July 1999 I graduated from UWE with a top 2.1. honours BSc degree in Environmental Quality & Resource Management, I was 44 years old. Sadly, though, I never managed to secure employment in the field of my studies, so I returned to menial temp jobs and continued to campaign and advocate for environmental action. My triumph, though, was to see my daughter graduate and, within just three years, get the job she wanted and loved, in a good Company.

Now, a grandmother of two adorable girls, 4 and 6, I am back on the campaign trail, only, not in a political groove. My leanings are for practical, collaborative, synergistic projects. I have created a signposting website to promote Co-operativism, called Planet Co-op. On there I have created libraries of links on various topics, with videos, How-To guides, resources and articles for those looking at various aspects of Co-operative action and enterprise, as a way to start a co-operative for anything from food-buying groups to co-operative housing.

Now I am semi-retired I hope to bring the right individuals together to make this project happen. I don’t need to capitalise on it, a future for my girls is my reward.