• Feb 20, 2011
Homemade electric VW Bug – Click above to watch video after the jump

DIY-er and entrepeneur Al Bullock's electrified 1970 Volkswagen Beetle proves that converting a conventional, gasoline-fueled vehicle over to run on battery power doesn't have to cost the proverbial arm and a leg. For a total investment of $18,000, Bullock purchased, fully restored and converted a VW Bug into a highway-capable electric car.

The converted Beetle tops out at a claimed 85 miles per hour and boasts a range of approximately 100 miles. We like that those DIY figures are both within spitting distance of the Nissan Leaf's top speed and its official EPA range rating. The cost is much better, too.

Recently, the crew over at Green Overdrive interviewed Bullock and cruised the streets of Livermore, CA riding shotgun in his electrified Beetle. Follow us after the jump to catch Bullock's converted Bug in action.

[Source: Giga OM]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good video. He's a sharp, smart guy and explained things well.

      I was also wondering if he has a BMS system in place?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cool car Mr. Bullock. Looks very clean and professional.

      I would like to hear more about the battery pack.


        • 3 Years Ago
        so would I
        after doing a bit of math on the pack the numbers don't seem to pan out.
        in 2008 the norm for laptop cells was 1.8Ah to 2.2, state of the art was maybe 2.6.
        if we take 6000 of the smallest 1.8 that's 39kWh which is too much.
        if we the consider he might have meant the small A123 cells which are 1.1Ah at 3.3V that's less than 22kWh so doesn't fit either.
        for the numbers to fit it would have to be a 3.6V 18650 cell at around 1.35Ah and that's an unusual cell although they do exist.
        LGchem has a 1.4Ah cell which is used for power tools. lower density but higher power, around 6C instead of the usual laptop 2C. 3C charging too instead of 0.5.
        in any case it's an unusual pack which would be interesting to hear more about.
      • 3 Years Ago
      she may look a bit geeky ... but hey I'll take a hot geek chick anytime ... love the car ... but that won't work in flood-ridden road like ours here in PH ... great idea of a car though ... I'd take it ... really ...
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well done sir!
      The DC wound motor is the odd choice here, and no battery management makes it kind of a reckless (low) investment.
      Check out the arm strength that front pack requires... but I admire it for being simple and usable.

      And it is even the color of Envy... my feelings right now.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The DC motor was probably a matter of price. Other technologies are usually a 'splitting hairs' improvement with a higher price tag.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "Simple and useable"-- exactly! And cheap is good... unfortunately, old Beetles are horribly dangerous in collisions... but around town, they are okay... kinda makes you wonder: Why can't big companies-- with their economy of scale-- build an electric vehicle for $18,000?
          • 3 Years Ago
          They Dont want too and never will !! The same reason why they killed off Mass Transit in this Country ,PROFIT. Untill the Corporations can PROFIT from it , you wont see it .
      kheggem3
      • 2 Years Ago
      Honestly, I love it. However, I think investing in a new Nissan simply makes far more sense. Sure it would be 10 grand more... but like a few others mentioned, it would have modern conveniences, better safety shell more space, and be covered by the manufacture. If something ever-seldomly went wrong, there would be trained techs out there capable of repairing it. Don't get me wrong, i would not spend 20 grand on pretty much any car, I plan to keep my 92 GTI 16v forever if I can... but I don't see thw sense in 18 grand to convert a Bug to electric. One day I will do that to the GTI.. which is a nicer vehicle to run around in. But not for 18 grand. No way.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I really want this car! It has more power than a regular volkswagen. It costs 18,000 to convert to electric. 85MPH and 100 plus miles per charge. This is a beautiful car and it is good for the environment!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I used to own a conversion. They are not for the timid. If the car breaks, you fix it. Plus, they're relatively expensive considering the vehicle age. Spending $18,000 for a 40 year old car with 40 year old problems is not exactly frugal.

      That said - good job on the conversion.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Aside from the suspension or transmission, what could possibly go wrong with it? It is essentially a rolling shell. The rest is new electrical parts. There isn't enough original parts left in the car for "40 year old problems" to even be an issue.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Al:

      Had one, 1500cc, put 300,000 miles on it, could never get to 30 mpg, at 300k had to put a 1200cc re-built engine it and started to get 33 to 35 mpg (My dad's Bel Air Chevy got like 12mpg, the gas had no actane at that time). Tough, ya could take it off road and it made you feel like "Erwin Rommel". Paid $3000.00 cash tax in as the authorities were trying to limit it's import by that time. "Vic" would go 84 mph flat out and you could drive at that rate all day on a long trip, even the "Speed Cop" wouldn't look at ya! Only got blown off the Freeway once, we got out pushed it off the snow bank onto the road and continued on.I have often thought that would have been the perfect electric car, room inside, the aerodynamics were 40 years ahead of it's time, light in a good sense...that present battery (Nissan's) could probably get to the 150 range easy.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd imagine that one great advantage of doing one's own conversion (if one has the skills) is knowing exactly what components are used and how they work and therefore being able to repair, customize, and upgrade at will. Well done, Al.
        • 3 Years Ago
        And repair, and repair, and repair...

        The problem with hobby jobs like this is that they were never professionally done in the first place, nor where they designed by an engineer, and as such tend to be highly unreliable.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, that is very cool! I would be so happy with that. I enjoyed this video.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think it's well past time to get off of oil i commend this mans conversion. If i could afford to one now i would. I am sick of paying for gas how about you?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Katie is HOT HOT HOT! Having said that, this bug is awesome! Always impressed with super smart guys like this building these impressive cars in a garage! If he could market it, I'm sure he could make a pretty penny! Hope he puts out a how to one day if he hasn't all ready! I have a 2001 VW beetle, and If I could afford it I would completely convert it.. although I would miss the turbo sport performance in the end...
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