A Look Inside The Electric Car Conversion Company EV West


So many awesome cars!

EV West transforms sweet classic cars into sweeter classic cars by converting their drivetrains to run on electricity. Though they may be best known for their record-setting Pikes Peak run back in 2012 —  a feat we believe they will attempt again next summer with that same, though thoroughly refreshed and Teslafied BMW M3 —  their shop is generally littered with vehicles that fire up imaginations with daydreams of boulevard cruising and canyon carving. Maybe even a bit of off-road shenanigans in the case of its awesome Baja Bug build.

Though we sometimes see cool individual vehicles that have come through the shop, we don’t often get much of an overview of the operation. Now, YouTube channel Freethink has put together an episode that gives us an inside look at the operation. We hear about its beginnings and its general philosophy while tempting us with sweet rides we’d die to get our mitts on. Besides cars, we also have a look at the shop’s solar array and the “Powerwall” energy storage that it feeds into. It all makes for a solid six minutes of inspiration.

Things are going so well for the company that, according to principal Michael Bream, they are booked solid for the next 3-1/2 years. If you have a vehicle worthy of electrification and wanted to avail yourself of their services, don’t despair. While they may not have the time to de-ICE your car, they do offer a vast array of kits and components on their website to allow you to do the work yourself.

Just remember that, if you do decide to take matters into your own hands, we’d love to see your build thread on the InsideEVs Forum. For now, though, enjoy the movie.


Video description:

EV West, a garage outside San Diego, is turning classic cars into electric vehicles. Not only that, their cars have won performance competitions and even set a record at the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. We talk with owner Michael Bream about how he got started doing DIY conversions and the technology that makes these conversions possible. We also check out some very cool cars. What would your dream conversion car be? Let us know in the comments.

Source: YouTube

Categories: Videos


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21 Comments on "A Look Inside The Electric Car Conversion Company EV West"

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I’m hoping we’ll soon see upgrade kits to transform weak PHEVs into BEVs. Something like the BMW X5 PHEV (or my C-Max) has most of the base parts needed, so shouldn’t it be easier than these operations?

Not really. None of those parts were designed to operate the car on EV 100% of the time. Not to say you couldn’t do it, but the car wouldn’t be very fast. I mean, if you’re ok with a 0-60 time of 15 seconds, then you could probably strip the gas engine out of a C-Max and put a larger battery pack in there and maybe get 100 miles out of it. But the bottom line is it’d be cheaper to buy an existing EV that can already do that, plus it would perform better.

Chevy Volt could probably handle it, since it was designed to be in EV mode 90% of the time. Even the other 10% when the gas engine is running, it is still only the motor that actually moves the car, gas engine only provides the power to the motor…
Still would be nice to see if someone could strip out the engine from a Volt, and put in an extra battery for 100 miles of range.

I don’t think you’d gain much just by removing the combustion engine, if you keep the rest of that complex transaxle assembly, most of which makes no sense without the combustion engine…

(And BTW, AIUI the combustion engine *does* partially drive the car most of the time when its on — only part of the power is routed through the electric system, to work as a sort of variable-speed transmission…)

i bought a kit from EV West and did all the work to convert a 1965 VW beetle convertible to electric. It’s a great project and has all the power you need to take the car another 50 years!

What was the cost of the kit?

I think that old cars, deserve the respect of keeping as original as possible. They are part of the industrial and technological heritage of the humanity. I can’t understand the interest of demanteling a classic for use it in a conversion, when it can build a replica.

goods are things that satisfy our needs and wants of utility — for motorized carriages that is moving us from point A to B as quickly, safely, and economically as possible, while also broadcasting one’s social status [if that is your thing].

Back in 2000 I bought my a new Miata with an eye to converting it to BEV when the ICE started wearing out, unfortunately the technology didn’t advance fast enough (vs just turning it in for $3000 and leasing a 2015 Leaf for ~$150/mo instead).

the main problem today is that the car manufacturers have mostly abandoned the car lines that I am interested in — I’d love a sport coupe of the 3000GT-VR4, FD RX-7, Supra Mk3, 300ZX type, but my choices here are currently just the BRZ and MX-5 .

Pulling a beater engine out of a 25+ yo car and putting in a nifty BEV powertrain seems like a big win to me. A motorized carriage can be electric or ICE, that is just an implementation detail (and BEV scores a lot of wins vs ICE IMO).

In the case of cars where there are replicas available, I can agree. No one needs to tear the innards out of an actual Porsche 356 when a good replica actually drives better. But for so many cars, there are a good number of gas-burning runners out there that I don’t have qualms about converting them.

Some keep the “heritage” in museums, while others prefer making them able to actually drive around again. (Without poisoning everyone and breaking down all the time.)

Why is it any of your business what others choose to do with a combustion vehicle – other people clearly and thankfully have different values and priorities to you – and if one of the motives for an EV conversion is about doing something green to protect and preserve the planet, eliminate local pollution, challenge accepted norms and change mindsets – then this enterprise merits nothing but applause. If on the other hand protecting and preserving this precious planet for future generations of ALL life-forms ain’t something that interests or arouses you then I hope you’re proud of being part of the problem not the solution.

Is the green/environmental motive even on your radar ? Sorry mate, but to h*!l with nebulous nostalgia and the past tense – we need humans to be urgently focused on the future and the major ecological challenges we face as a species. Our mainstream and most other media outlets don’t want you/consumers to be thinking about any of that – and most humans are only too happy to oblige and bury their heads in the sand.

Paul G

I’d love to be able to fund a large shop to go after the conversion market for municipal vehicles. These guys at EV West would be great SMEs for that.

A bit of marketing is called for.
Is there a customer base that will pay the price?
Look before you leap.

There is always a market for less taxes spent in O&M and politicians who get that😄.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

I would expect there to be a market for high end restorations and electric conversions. ICON has done at least one that I know of.

As an avid vintage car enthusiast, I’m generally encouraged by the opportunity keep more collectable cars on the road. Old-tech mechanical components aren’t always easy to repair and their longevity isn’t on the same plane as modern hardware. It’s definitely a commitment in terms of time and money. If, however, one is willing to spend money on an electric conversion, go for it. New driving experiences should be part of the automotive landscape. But part of the character of these old machines is their mechanical heritage. Reciprocating motion, power bands, meshing gears, synchronized shifting, vibration, sound and smell all add to the vintage car experience. One can bypass this experience in the name of efficiency and conservation, but know that something is lost along the way.

Regardless, I’m just glad we still have the opportunity to drive. There may come a time when autonomous cars restrict the freedom to drive on a variety of roads due to technological constraints. Then I’m gonna have a problem. 😉

While their kits are awesome they are expensive and I don’t believe the price of them has come down at all in the last there years while the range has stayed the same..
Battery capacity is only 22 kWh


What I would really like to see and would be much much more willing to buy is someone taking the guts of a Leaf or Spark EV and throwing those into conversions…
I would much rather have EV parts made from tier 1 auto parts/battery manufactures that have been fully tested and integrated into a package by Nissan/GM or the likes…

If you have an extra $20,000 and are willing to do the work yourself you could have something.

It would be nice to take a Chevy C1500 or the like and turn it into an electric full-size truck…
Sadly, you are looking at 48kWh for only 100 mile range, and it will still take 7.5 hours for a full recharge on a public L2.
Of course, with LiFePO4(IMO Tesla modules are too unstable without the rest of the Tesla battery pack/BMS/Cooling system(and getting all of that working basically means you have to have the rest of the Tesla built around it), you could still easily do a 51.8kWh battery.
There are also cylindrical LiFePO4 cells, with higher current capability and higher energy density(you could do a 64kWh battery with those), and that puts a C1500 right around the 140 mile range.

While I’m not sure exactly the market segment they want to be in, if they’re ever interested in expanding a little, one practical thing they could do is fit a BOLT ev inverter (and 7.2 kw charger) into the Tesla Roadsters that are still around, since Tesla is not making complete Power Equipment Modules any longer, although SO MANY owners have been clamoring for used WORKING PEMS that Tesla has quietly started making SOME of the circuit boards in the units – and lowered the price from the original $17,000 to $6,500-10,000 depending on the extent of new parts in the original unit. What is apparently off the table is Tesla making replacement PEMS for the original Roadster that unfortunately ALL will eventually self-destruct – its an ‘aging’ issue that kid-gloves driving won’t help. Its true that the Bolt inverter is designed for a synchronous motor, and therefore, the regeneration performance of a Roadster with a BOLT inverter may suffer, I think it would be an easy, relatively low cost swap – since the coolant lines for the battery are right there – and the Bolt’s water cooled inverter would eliminate a continually nagging headache with the original roadster –… Read more »

Obligatory comment on the DeLorean: does it have flux capacitors? 😉