Last updated June 26, 2023
With the 2030 petrol and diesel ban (which will prohibit the sale of all new combustion engine vehicles) edging closer, many drivers are now seriously thinking about making the switch to an electric car.
However, the high upfront cost remains a barrier to buying an electric car for many drivers. (Even the cheapest new electric models cost more than £20,000.)
So, what are your options if you want to make the leap to electric without breaking the bank? In this guide, we will explain how you can convert your existing petrol or diesel car into a fully electric vehicle - and enjoy all the benefits of an EV without buying a brand-new car.
Just think, by converting your old combustion engine car to an electric vehicle, you could make big savings on running costs, whilst also doing your part to save the planet!
Almost any car can be converted to run on electric power, making this a viable option for anyone looking to switch from a traditionally fuelled car to an EV.
In most cases, a combustion-engine car can be converted to electric by removing the engine, exhaust, gearbox and other components - and replacing them with electric motors and a battery.
You can purchase an electric car conversion kit which will contain everything you need. (Alternatively, you can simply use components from an old electric car.)
Although the DIY approach could potentially save you some money, we wouldn’t recommend attempting an electric car conversion yourself unless you happen to have the relevant tools, knowledge and expertise.
The process of electric car conversion is fairly complicated (not to mention time consuming). Therefore, hiring a reputable mechanic can give you the peace of mind that the work will be carried out safely and correctly.
Electric motors and a battery (as well as any specific components required for your car).
Remove anything related to the internal combustion system (e.g. the engine, radiator, exhaust and fuel tank).
Measure the space left inside to discover what parts you will need and source them.
Fit the electric parts to the car.
Wire it up and ensure that the high voltage wiring is orange.
Set up the controls.
Test your newly-electrified car to ensure it meets compliance standards.
Converting a car to run on electric power is perfectly legal. However, your vehicle must comply with the UK’s Road Vehicles Regulations legislation - and you will need to re-register it with the DVLA.
You can do this via the vehicle registration pages on the gov.uk website. (Depending on the amount of work you have carried out, your converted electric car might be classified as a ‘radically altered’ or ‘rebuilt’ vehicle.)
To register your EV conversion with the DVLA, you’ll need to send them the following documentation:
If your application is approved, you will receive an updated V5C logbook from the DVLA.
Your newly electrified car will still need an annual MOT test (if it is over three years old). The cost will remain the same – the only difference is the exhaust emissions part of the test will no longer be necessary.
You'll also need to inform your car insurance provider. Converting your car to electric may increase the cost of your insurance premium.
If you purchase a DIY conversion kit and hire a qualified mechanic, you can expect to spend around £15,000 on your conversion (although the cost may differ depending on the type of vehicle and kit you are using).
Here are some of the costs you’ll have to factor in:
Whilst there is a considerable upfront cost involved in converting your car to an electric vehicle, this is still likely to be lower than buying a new EV.
Converting your car may be particularly worthwhile if you are attached to your current vehicle, but want to reduce your carbon footprint, as this option gives you the best of both worlds.
According to a report by a leading UK energy saving website, in January 2023, the average cost of running a fully electric car was just 11p per mile - whereas the average running cost for a petrol vehicle was almost double that figure at 21p per mile.
Popular car models that are ideal for electric conversion include:
Whether you choose to buy an electric car or convert your existing one, you will see a reduction in running costs and your carbon footprint.
The choice between converting and buying an EV lies entirely with you - and the best option will depend on your budget and preferences.
Today’s best electric cars deliver great performance, range and reliability, although they remain a little out of a budget buyer’s price range. If you can’t bear to part with your current motor, converting it to an EV could potentially save you money in the longer term.
Want to know the value of your newly electrified car? Try our free electric car valuation tool.