General Motors plans to bring out at least 30 new all-electric vehicles by the middle of the decade — though it could wind up with dozens of other models running around on battery power.
The automaker plans to soon launch a crate-motor package that owners of older GM products will be able to use to convert from gas or diesel to all-electric propulsion.
The demand for EV conversions is growing nearly as fast as the market for new battery-electric vehicles. According to one study, it will nearly triple between 2021 and 2025, as American motorists repurpose everything from old Volkswagen Beetles to Pontiac GTOs.
Customers line up
If anything, the big challenge is finding a conversion shop that can handle the process. Scores of these have popped up across the country, some small, some large. But demand has grown so quickly that potential customers often have to wait months, sometimes more than a year, to begin the conversions process. IEV West, one of the larger California-based EV converters, claims to have a five-year waiting list.
The process could become a bit easier once GM enters the fray. The Chevrolet division has been showing off EV conversions since 2019, when it brought a modified 1962 C-10 pickup to the SEMA Show dubbed the E-10.
The bowtie brand has long offered high-performance crate motors to its enthusiast fans. “The Chevrolet E-10 electrified Connect & Cruise concept system reimagines the performance crate engine for hot rodders,” Jim Campbell, the bowtie brand’s vice president of Performance and Motorsports, said during the E-10 debut in Las Vegas.
GM plugs in
Though GM signaled interest in adding an electric crate motor to its performance catalogue, the project has taken longer than expected and is just getting ready for production, GM officials recently told the Detroit Free Press.
It will be called the Electric Connect and Cruise eCrate Package and will be ready to install in a variety of GM vehicles, though the automaker has yet to announce which ones. It also has yet to reveal pricing or performance numbers.
For some e-conversion customers, the benefit is simply to go green, switching to battery power to make their vehicles emissions free. Others are hoping to save money on energy, especially during a year when gas prices have hit an all-time record.
Focusing on performance
Still others love the performance capabilities of electric motors — which produce maximum torque the moment they start spinning. That’s underscored by factory-built EVs like the Lucid Air Dream Performance edition and Tesla Model S Plaid, both of which can hit 60 in about 2 seconds. The Ford F-150 Lightning is the fastest version of the big pickup ever, hitting 60 in as little as 4.2 seconds.
Performance-focused converters have created some mind-boggling packages. A 2013 Volkswagen Beetle primarily repurposed for drag racing has been packaged with four Axial flux motors, each nominally rated at 565 horsepower. But they can be pushed to a combined 6,500 hp for a quarter-mile run in just 7 seconds.
Don’t expect to see e-conversions go mainstream, the business is measured in the thousands, though demand is likely to rise to more than 40,000 annually worldwide by 2025, according to a study released by ResearchandMarkets.com. It forecasts a compounded annual growth rate of 16.71% between 2021 and 2025.
GM hopes to capitalize on that boom. “We’ve done spectacular with what we call ‘crate’ engines in old cars … putting new V8 internal combustion engines in older cars to make them more reliable and perform better,” Chevrolet Vice President Scott Bell told the Free Press. “Now we have that same group of people working on EV conversion kits for classic cars.”
Ford offers the Eluminator
GM isn’t the only automaker seeking to appeal to EV converters. Ford last November launched the “Eluminator,” which its performance website describes as “the first of its kind to be engineered, developed and offered by an original equipment manufacturer.”
The package starts at $3,900 — a figure that doesn’t include the battery pack and some other key components. Add everything else that’s needed and the figure can soar.
Indeed, conversion costs run all over the map. Some can be accomplished for as little as $8,000 to $10,000, according to experts. According to GreenCarStocks, most potential customers should expect to spend at least $18,000 — and $30,000 isn’t out of the norm. Indeed, experts caution potential customers that six-figure projects are not unusual, some more sophisticated conversions running to $250,000 and above.
Making that up by saving on fuel prices would take some time, though motorists won’t have to spend on things like tune-ups, oil or filter changes, either.
“Once a vehicle is converted, maintenance becomes mainly about keeping vintage parts in good condition,” said Green Car Stocks in an analysis of the conversion market. “It should be noted that converting an internal combustion engine car into an electric car is both time consuming and complicated, as every type of van, truck or vehicle needs its own solution.”
But for many American motorists, the idea of going electric with a favorite old vehicle — rather than something new specifically designed for battery power — has a unique appeal. And it’s becoming easier to achieve as more parts become available, with more shops opening to handle the conversion process.
5 responses to “GM Set to Join Fast-Growing EV Conversion Market”
IS MY 1985 ELDORADO BARRITZ CONVERTIBLE ELIGABLE FOR A GM CONVERSION KIT?
You should follow links from their site to confirm this. But expect more to be added.
I have a “64 Corvair that I purchased to convert it to electric.
I have looked at different ways to do it. DC motor? AC motor? I haved priced both motor and control system options, and have been saving my $$ accordingly. Just saw something on youtube about GM’s conversion kit, and I’m intrigued. I would like to know more. I’m assuming it’s an AC system I would like to know just what actually you get “minus batteries” and exactly how much money .
Of course, HP, torque, volts, things like that would be nice too.
I wish I could give you more answers but I know relatively little about the GM system. Have you contacted the factory about this, as I believe they have a dedicated site or page. Are you planning to do this yourself or seeking a shop to handle it for you?
I’ve done other engine swaps in my lifetime with ICE’s. I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to do it myself, but
I’m no fool ,I know how to ask and look for help when needed.
After reading your piece, I quickly looked around and wasn’t able to find info readily available. I’ve started looking around for a possible salvaged Bolt motor and components though. I figure thats the type of motor set up that they’ll come out with. Fingers crossed