Electric vehicles (EV) are rapidly gaining popularity as the world shifts towards a more sustainable future. Even with subsidies and savings on fuel for the time being, there is a high price tag attached to new EVs. Most EVs seem to be priced in the luxury car range, even though the model in question is being compared to a compact sedan.
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One affordable, practical and sustainable option is to convert a traditional gasoline-powered car to an electric one, but is this a better choice than buying a new EV? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision.
EV conversion: Pros and cons
Converting a gasoline-powered car to an electric one involves replacing the engine with an electric motor and installing a battery pack. The process can be complex and costly, but it can also be a rewarding DIY project for those with the necessary skills and tools. Here are the pros and cons of an EV conversion:
EV conversions can cost significantly less than buying a new EV, especially if you can do the work yourself or with the help of a local mechanic. For less than the cost of an engine change, you might be able to do a complete conversion inclusive of labour.
With an EV conversion, you can tailor the car to your specific needs and preferences, such as choosing the size of the battery pack, motor power, and charging options. Based on the history of your existing vehicle, you can tailor it to suit the amount of range that you specifically need.
3. Environmental benefits
By converting an existing car to electric, you’re helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. It is far more sustainable to change out the drivetrain of an existing internal combustion engine vehicle than to change the entire vehicle.
4. Job creation
EV conversion could be the start of a whole new industry for those that are capable. Just like when CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) conversions gained popularity in the late 1980s. Which saw the establishment of specialised mechanics, the same could be done in terms of EV conversions.
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5. Foreign exchange
Anyone who has tried to get their hands on US dollars in Trinidad and Tobago, knows how difficult it can be. The new car market has been cited on numerous occasions as one of the largest users of this valuable commodity. By focussing on EV conversions instead of replacement of the entire vehicle, this would conserve Trinidad and Tobago’s foreign exchange.
Just as with the foreign used car market, EV conversions would bring EVs within the range of the average Tiida and Almera drivers. As it is right now, owning an EV is a “flex”, that can only be afforded by affluent in society.
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7. Replacement parts
All the cosmetic replacement parts remain the same as you will be using your existing car. If you have to do repairs or upgrade your drivetrain, it would be simple as the parts are generally modular and you would not be bound to a specific parts dealer.
Most people build relationships with their vehicle, some even consider them to be like members of the family. With a conversion, you would be able to hold on to your vehicle almost indefinitely, while saving the planet.
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EV conversions can be challenging and require specialised knowledge, making it difficult for the average car owner to undertake the project.
If not done correctly, an EV conversion can pose safety risks, such as electrical hazards, and may not meet regulatory requirements.
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3. Resale value
While an EV conversion can be a fun project, it may not increase the resale value of the vehicle.
Buying a new EV: Pros and cons
Purchasing a new electric vehicle comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look:
New EVs are typically more reliable and require less maintenance than traditional gasoline-powered cars.
With a new EV, you can enjoy the convenience of a ready-to-go charging network, plus the latest technology and safety features.
New EVs have a more efficient battery pack, which can provide a longer range and lower operating costs.
The biggest disadvantage of buying a new EV is the cost, which can be significantly higher than converting an existing car.
2. Limited options
While the EV market is growing, the range of models available is still more limited than gasoline-powered cars.
Like any new car, an EV will depreciate in value over time, which can affect its resale value.
4. Replacement parts
Parts for new vehicles are always very expensive, and parts are not as interchangeable as before. Basically, you would have one option when it comes to repairs and upgrades, the company from which you bought your car.
5. Car as a service
In recent years, some car manufacturers have been criticised for keeping certain features in their electric vehicles behind a paywall, which can impact the overall ownership experience. These features may include access to fast-charging networks, software updates, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
While these features may be standard in some models, others may require additional payment or subscription fees. This has led to concerns among some consumers that they are being nickel-and-dimed for features that should be included in the price of the vehicle.
It’s worth noting, however, that not all car manufacturers engage in this practice, and some prioritise transparency and inclusivity in their EV offerings. As the electric vehicle market continues to grow and evolve, it will be interesting to see how these trends develop and whether consumer expectations will drive changes in how EVs are marketed and sold.
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10 car manufacturers that keep certain features in their EVs behind a paywall
Here are ten specific examples of car manufacturers keeping certain features in their electric vehicles behind a paywall:
Tesla has been known to keep certain features behind a paywall, including access to its Supercharger network and some software updates. Additionally, features like Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are only available for an additional fee.
The Porsche Taycan offers several premium features, such as a head-up display and adaptive cruise control, but these options are only available as part of a higher trim package or as separate add-ons at an additional cost.
The Audi e-tron electric SUV includes a range of advanced driver assistance systems, but some of these features, such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, are only available as part of a higher trim level or as separate add-ons.
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The Nissan Leaf electric vehicle offers a range of features, including its ProPilot driver assistance system, which is only available on higher trim levels or as an optional add-on.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV offers a number of advanced features, such as Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver assistance system and a hands-free foot-activated liftgate, but these features are only available on higher trim levels or as separate add-ons.
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The Hyundai Kona Electric includes a range of safety features, but some, such as forward collision warning and lane-keeping assist, are only available as part of a higher trim level or as optional add-ons.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV includes a range of advanced safety features, but some, such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning, are only available on higher trim levels.
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The BMW i3 electric vehicle offers a range of premium features, such as a sunroof and heated front seats, but these options are only available on higher trim levels or as separate add-ons at an additional cost.
The Rivian R1T electric pickup truck offers a range of features, such as a built-in air compressor and an integrated camp kitchen, but some of these options are only available on higher trim levels or as separate add-ons.
The GenerLink is a plug and play transfer switch that gives the homeowner the ability to use anything in their electrical panel up to the capacity of the generator. The GenerLink is UL listed and is a safe way for homeowners to use a portable generator during an outage. It provides a great peace of mind.
The Lucid Air electric sedan includes a range of premium features, such as a glass canopy roof and advanced driver assistance systems, but these options are only available on higher trim levels at an additional cost.
It’s worth noting that these practices are not unique to electric vehicles, and similar paywall practices have been observed in the traditional gasoline-powered car market as well.
4-year comparison of EV conversion, new EV and new gas-powered car
Let us compare an EV conversion over 4 years against a new EV and a new gas-powered car. We will assume these cars were bought for cash and not financed, and with the new models, maintenance is either free or non-existent for the first 4 years of the life of the car.
Given these assumptions, the total energy consumption for 1,800 km would be:
Total Energy Consumed = Distance Travelled x Energy Consumption Rate
Total Energy Consumed = 1,800 km x 0.20 kWh/km
Total Energy Consumed = 360 kWh
To calculate the total cost of charging the Tesla Model S for this distance, we can multiply the total energy consumed by the cost of electricity:
Total Cost = Total Energy Consumed x Cost of Electricity per kWh
Total Cost = 360 kWh x 0.37 TTD/kWh
Total Cost = 133.20 TTD
So, it would cost approximately 133.20 Trinidad and Tobago dollars per month to charge a Tesla Model S to cover a distance of 1,800 km per month, based on the assumptions listed above. This is assuming that you charge the vehicle exclusively at home, and do not account for any additional charging costs that may be incurred at public charging stations.
Sure, let’s compare the three options:
1. Tesla Model S
– Purchase price: 550,000 TTD
– Fuel costs over 4 years: 22,368 TTD
– Total cost over 4 years: 572,368 TTD
2. New Toyota Corolla
– Purchase price: 229,000 TTD
– Monthly fuel consumption: 1,200 TTD (Premium)
– Total fuel costs over 4 years: 57,600 TTD (1200 TTD/month x 12 months x 4 years)
– Total cost over 4 years: 286,600 TTD
3. Used Toyota Corolla with EV conversion kit
– Purchase price: Let’s assume you already own the used Corolla
– Conversion kit cost: 10,434.36 TTD + 10,000 Battery Pack + 9,897.83 TTD shipping + 10,000 TTD installation = 40,332.19 TTD
– Fuel costs over 4 years: 52,700.19 TTD
– Total cost over 4 years: 6,600 TTD (assuming no maintenance costs)
As you can see, the used Corolla with the EV conversion kit is by far the most cost-effective option over 4 years, with a total cost of only 63,360.19 TTD. We can round it up to 70,000 TTD, because cutoms…. However, it’s important to note that this option may not be practical for everyone, as the range and performance of the converted vehicle may not be as good as that of a new EV or gas-powered car.
Additionally, there may be additional maintenance and repair costs associated with the conversion kit. You could also sell your original gas engine, dependent on the make and model of your vehicle, you may not only be able to cover the cost of the conversion but may make a tidy profit considering that you would no longer need the engine, fuel and exhaust systems.
The new Toyota Corolla is significantly cheaper than the Tesla Model S, with a total cost of 286,600 TTD over 4 years. It’s also worth noting that the Corolla is a reliable and well-known car that is generally easy and affordable to maintain. However, it’s important to consider that the Corolla is a gas-powered car and may have higher fuel costs in the long run.
The Tesla Model S is the most expensive option, with a total cost of 572,368 TTD over 4 years. However, it offers the benefits of a luxury EV with high performance, advanced features, and zero emissions. It’s also worth noting that the Model S may have lower maintenance costs compared to gas-powered cars, as it has fewer moving parts and requires less frequent maintenance.
Ultimately, the choice between these three options will depend on individual preferences, budget, and priorities.
Which option is right for you?
The decision to convert an existing car to electric or buy a new EV depends on your specific needs and circumstances. If you have the skills, tools, and desire to undertake an EV conversion or access to someone who does, it can be a fun and cost-effective project.
However, if you’re looking for a more convenient, reliable, and efficient option, buying a new EV may be the better choice, once you can afford it. If you were considering financing your new car then the conversion option is way ahead of both the new gas-powered car and the new EV.
Ultimately, both options have their pros and cons, and it’s up to you to weigh them against your budget and preferences to make the right decision.
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