Let's just say this one's for both the environmentally conscious and the nostalgic.

That's apparently the target audience for the ChargeCar project launched by Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, which helps convert old Honda Civics to electric vehicles, according to the Mother Nature Network.

ChargeCar offers an all-inclusive conversion kit for 2001-05 Honda Civics – hey, there are a lot of them out there – that includes an electric motor, batteries, controllers and an in-car display, all for $24,000. The kit can be installed by a mechanic in less than three days, the publication says. Of course, you have to provide the Civic as well as the 24 large. Oh, and conversions don't qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit.

So, financially, this isn't the best way to drive an EV, but ChargeCar is offering one more way for consumers to drive electric vehicles and further help out the environment by using an existing car to do so. MNN says the kit allows for about 40-miles of single-charge-range driving. And all without that new car smell.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      EZEE
      • 8 Months Ago
      Well now hang on...I would agree with Dan(!) simply because...well, why would I do this opposed to buying a brand new Mitsubishi iEV? A brand new car that...is brand new, opposed to an old converted Civic? I am fine on conversions, but it would have to significantly beat the price of a brand new car or else why do it? If they even said $10k - $15k, then one could potentially pick a used car of good condition, convert, and be in the range of the new EV.
      noevfud
      • 8 Months Ago
      Senseless. There will be market for this i the future for classic cars but $24K for a heavy, unreliable conversion for a few thousand less than a LEAF after rebates. Good luck.
      skierpage
      • 8 Months Ago
      Honda should be compelled to offer this conversion to all 2003-2009 Civic Hybrid owners as a fair settlement of the class action lawsuit! ;-)
      SVX pearlie
      • 8 Months Ago
      $24k is a little bit on the high side, but is in the ballpark for a conversion. With bulk, they'd get it down to $20k.
      SVX pearlie
      • 8 Months Ago
      That is the difference between mass production and one-off.
      Scambuster
      • 8 Months Ago
      40 miles on lead-acid battery?
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      HMM.... Well personally, i've done the numbers, and specced out various bits and pieces already. My recipe: + 30kW-hr of lifepo4 battery - $11,000 + Netgain warp9 motor - $2,000 + Zilla 1k controller - $2,000 + BMS solution, not sure which one to use yet but we'll allocate $2k.. - $2,000 + Charging solution, again not sure but let's allocate $3k.. $3,000 + Custom mounting plates for the motor and battery box construction.. let's allocate $2k for this.. - $2,000 + Contactor(s), wiring, and other misc. fluff - $1k. + Shipping fluff: $1k Total parts cost: $24k End result: A realistic 80-100+ miles of range, 80 horsepower, car ends up being rather heavy, a little putzy on the highway, won't climb an intense long grade like the rocky mountain pass too well, but very quick in the city, and overall a good practical commuter. Now, a working Honda Civic's powertrain is going to be worth quite a bit of $. You could easily part out the gas engine and all it's pieces and have a minimum of $2k in your hands. Total parts cost, then: $22k. Labor = ???.. free, if you do it yourself like a real man. Or if you pay someone to do the conversion, you can remove the engine yourself, which saves you money ( and is the fun part anyway! ) Otherwise let's add $4k of labor, in the worst case scenario, to have the car converted.. $26k and you've got double the range of this car and maybe more horsepower. You've got components that DIY folks recognize, that EV shops are familiar with, easily serviceable/replaceable, and are known to be reliable and non-proprietary. Seems like there is a lot of profit built into this conversion if you're getting half the battery. I would recommend looking elsewhere.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        BTW, if you are a DIYer and take the BMS out of the picture, use a slightly slower charger and less battery ( 20kw-hr ), you could get the cost of this theoretical conversion down about $6-$7k off the parts price mentioned here. Your total cost would be about $16k and you would provide the labor. Realistic range would be 50-60 miles, and it wouldn't do highway speed. Conversions make sense when you DIY.
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I completed my first EV conversion 16 years ago. Since then I have converted or built from scratch (or had built to commission) nearly 430 EV's of various sorts. I built these vehicles, because there were no commercial models available. After witnessing most conversions around the world, I have come to the conclusion that home conversions for road use should be heavily restricted. Although, it maybe a very unpopular position to adopt (especially with so many passionate EV enthusiasts), I have seen far too many poor quality, potentially dangerous home conversions on the road. There may have been an excuse when there were no OEM models available, but most home conversions are just death traps waiting to occur. Once you get past the emotional argument, the simple fact remains that this type of conversion relies upon Gliders without sophisticated safety devices. Why would anyone encourage the use of less safe vehicles? GM's Volt and Leaf, both have invested enormous considerable resources to provide products with a high standard of safety. Why would anyone spend $24-34,000 , to create an inferior vehicle !. More importantly, why should any competent licencing authority encourage less safe vehicles to share the highways with unsuspecting road users. Simply finding an engineer to certify that compliance with a minimum standard, is not sufficient. It's true that some excellent conversions exist. But , the downside is there are far too many truly awful conversions. I encouraged and supported conversions when there was no commercial alternatives, but to pay $24,000 plus labour, etc to convert a 10 year old economy car like the Civic, which after 10 years is ready for the scrap heap, is insane. Projects like this can easily end up costing far more than simply buying an iMEV or Leaf. I realise that every homebuilt EV enthusiast and conspiracy theorist will be puffing themselves crazy with indignation, but there comes a time when sanity must prevail !
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @marcopolo
        Have a hard time believing that you have done a conversion in the lithium age. 1) please point out why these home conversions are less safe than just an ordinary car on the road. 2) read my $16k-$22k lithium conversion build recipe. If you think that $24k is the real cost of said 40 mile EV conversion, you are kidding yourself.
          marcopolo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @ 2 Wheeled Menace "please point out why these home conversions are less safe than just an ordinary car on the road." Well, I could take a cheap shot and point out that a clapped out old Honda Civic, is inherently less safe than a new Leaf ! But, instead I will start with the most obvious problem of home conversions. How do you effect installation of ESC (Electronic stability control (ESC), ( electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), ) in your home built conversion ? (Later you can explain how you re-calibrated the vehicles airbags, provided air-conditioning/heating etc). I notice in your costing, you didn't include the cost of purchasing the donor car. I am also surprised that there's such a high priced market for old dismantled Honda civic parts in Colorado Springs, but if you say so, I believe you ! Supposing you are fortunate to have a fully equipped workshop, find a high quality donor car, possess the mechanical ability to adapt braking systems, tyres, etc, have the time and expertise to carry out the conversion, to the satisfaction of the State Registration authority and engineers certification (more expense) you will still discover lot's of unforeseen expenses. After all your effort, do you really think that your completed project would be superior to a Nissan Leaf or even an iMEV? Fortunately, two-wheel vehicles don't present the same problems.
          marcopolo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @ 2 Wheeled Menace Not as easy as it first seems, eh ? There is huge difference between just adding up a few component prices from a catalogue and building a modern production EV ! But it doesn't matter, my point is that with EV's built in increasing numbers by OEM's, the heroic days of home conversions are over, and in future EV conversions will be restricted to hobbyists who like classic restorers and hot rodders, will produce totally unprofitable and impractical vehicles for personal satisfaction.
        Scambuster
        • 8 Months Ago
        @marcopolo
        Also an important note, marcopolo converted several Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules for his moon shot. As a matter of fact, he is the only one capable of doing it safely. Everyone else should back-off and let the experts, such as marcopolo, convert gas to EV safely and economically. As an authority on everything that moves, marcopolo advises everyone to obey his command.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 8 Months Ago
      little bit on the faily side : )
        DarylMc
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        yet also involved in the "let's make EV's too expensive" auto manufacturer conspiracy? :)
      DarylMc
      • 8 Months Ago
      Hi EZEE Sure it makes iMiev, Leaf and Volt look reasonable. That's what I was getting at.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      They have not exactly conspired to make them too expensive, just haven't cut costs or mass produced them to make them more affordable. Then only offered them in certain states, particularly one where they need to comply with certain mandates. Automakers may not be doing anything technically wrong, they just aren't doing right :)
      amtoro
      • 8 Months Ago
      Some States have tax credits for conversions; in GA, it is 10% of the cost of the conversion or $2,500, whichever is less.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X