An old Hyundai Santro petrol version converted to an electric vehicle

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What could be the simplest way to convert an ICE vehicle into an electric one?

A few days back only we covered a story from Gujrat, India where one Honda Activa was converted into a hybrid by Mr. Vipul Patel. This was his individual effort and his story is worth reading. Today we are with another interesting story-

Full story (credit: YouTube channel “Making With Mihir“)

We Indians love our cars and it becomes more special when that car is also your part of childhood memory. We don’t want to let the car go and then some of us do something beyond our imagination. Here is the story of Mr. Mihir –

We all are so close to our family cars for their nostalgia, their memories, it’s feel emotions, and the past that brings warm feelings of our childhood. Giving own car a second life with personal effort definitely gives different pleasures. Here we will go through the story of Mr. Mihir who converted his grandfather’s Hyundai SANTRO into an electric one.

Understand the ICE vehicle operation

The internal combustion engine (ICE) is the heart of the car which is connected to the clutch system and gearbox. These all help to deliver the generated power due to the combustion of petrol inside the ICE to the road wheel. In parallel, the ICE is also responsible to give power to the power-steering pump, AC compressor, 12V battery charging, and assist the brake booster unit.

Hyundi Santro EV conversion in 03 days

EV retrofitment in India
Hyundai Santro EV Conversion

The main idea was to keep this whole EV conversion process as simple and as cheap as possible. So, instead of removing the whole engine Mihir’s team only removed the top half called the cylinder head and removed the pistons because those were now useless.

To leave the lower half of the engine undisturbed the engine added weight. That made the conversion job much simpler. With the support of one simple L-shaped motor mount to mount the newly chosen electric motor atop the remaining engine block. AC compressor and Power steering pump also now managed to drive with just one motor and one motor controller.

To power the electric motor, the team used LFP (lithium ferro phosphate battery). The selected battery provides 72 volts to run the electric motor. Now the car was having an e-Motor which was powering the car AC, power steering, and giving drive to Hyundai Santro (all with a single motor only).

This retrofitted Santro was fitted with a severely underpowered motor. This only produces 8 HP of power. This motor power figure is around eight times lower than the power produced by the originally fitted gasoline 1086 cc engine. So, overall this is just a running electric car with a gearbox that also has engine oil… running fine.

Retrofitment challenges (Hyundai Santro EV Conversion)

Hyundai Santro EV Conversion
Hyundai Santro EV Conversion

I would say this was kind of experiment which gives an idea about challenges during the conversion process of an internal combustion engine to electric one. But this also lists out the challenges came across this activity .

Hyundai Santro brake system:

The petrol-powered cars are fitted with the brake booster. This brake booster uses a vacuum created by the engine to assist the driver in pressing the brake. Now, because the ICE engine was no more functional, so the engine was not creating any vacuum. To fix this Mihir’s team installed an electric vacuum pump that operates on 12 volts taking power from the car battery. This vacuum pump replicates the brake-boosting action of the ICE.

To charge 12V Car battery

The 12-volt car battery that powers the vacuum pump, the light in the car, the power windows, and stuff like the central locks, this battery also needs charging from somewhere. In Hyundai Santro, the engine drives the alternator which keeps charging this 12-volt battery. Now, because the engine is no more so the best way to charge this battery is by using this with an electrical voltage conversion kit (72V to 12V). Now the 72V big battery gets used to charge the 12V car battery.

My words

Conversion of a regular vehicle into an electric one is complex process. Understanding the old vehicle’s remaining life , selection of right and approved e-Motor, battery and the electronic power module, wiring harness, connectors, charging kit and others are not easy task. This was the component level hustle which one need to play around. For the vehicle level approval, user must submit the retrofitted electric vehicle to ARAI for approval.

As correctly said my Mr. Mihir in his video- this isn’t a perfect model. You basically get the idea about how complex / simple this whole conversion process could be for you.