Can You Convert a Traditional Car to an EV?

A guide looking into the process, benefits and cost of an internal combustion engine (ICE) car to electric vehicle (EV) conversion.

Last updated: Jun 17, 2024 5 min read

ORA Funky cat Bristol

Summary

It’s possible, and legal, to convert a petrol or diesel car to use electric power instead, but there are some things that need to be considered. The conversion should only be carried out by someone confident with the work required, and the converted EV must be re-registered, insured and meet UK regulations.

Why convert a car into an electric vehicle?

The shift from ICE cars to EVs presents a much-needed opportunity to reduce the CO2 generated by private and public transportation. If you have a petrol or diesel car that you want to keep and future-proof, converting it to an electric vehicle is an option.

Simply buying a brand new EV may be easier, but there are many reasons why people are keen to convert a traditional combustion engine car to an electric motor and battery. They include wanting to be more environmentally friendly, reducing running costs and creating a unique vehicle that’ll turn heads - especially if it’s a vintage car they’re converting. You can see an example of a converted classic car in our video with automotive journalist and TV presenter, Alexandra Legouix. In this article, we’ll help you learn about electric vehicle conversions as an option to start driving electric.

How to convert an ICE vehicle into an EV

There are two main ways to convert an ICE vehicle into an EV:

  • Professional conversion – a specialist company will source components, modify the car, and remove old and fit new parts

  • DIY conversion – using a conversion kit, you swap out combustion engine parts with components needed for electric driving, such as the motor and battery

Please note that a DIY conversion should only be carried out if you have the necessary knowledge and skills to remove and install mechanical and electric components safely. Alternatively, you can task a qualified mechanic with the installation of the conversion kit.

Can I legally convert my car into an EV?

Yes, it’s legal to convert a car into an EV in the UK, as long as you follow some steps to meet basic legal requirements.

Registration

  • Re-registration of your vehicle – Once converted, your now-EV must be re-registered via the vehicle registration section on GOV.UK as a rebuilt vehicle or radically altered vehicle. Ensure it meets UK road vehicles regulations before you begin the registration process.

  • Registration forms and documentation – You must submit a completed V55/4 or V55/5 form to register and provide the following:
    • ID such as a copy of a driving licence or passport

    • Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), also called road tax, and a £55 registration fee

    • A valid MOT certificate for vehicles older than three years

    • A completed V627/1 form

    • Evidence of type approval (if applicable)

    • The original vehicle’s registration certificate

    • Receipts for any major parts purchased

    • Photographs of the care before and after conversion

MOT

For converted EVs, an annual MOT is still required unless the car is a classic that’s over 40 years old. The fee is the same as for an ICE car, although your converted EV won’t need an exhaust emissions test.

Insurance

You must inform your insurance provider about a car-to-EV conversion. If you don’t, it will invalidate your insurance policy. A change in your car’s specifications might also affect your insurance premium, leading to an increase in what you pay. Make sure to have documents and photos ready to evidence the conversion.

Vehicle safety

The overall weight of the car post-conversion should not exceed the limit on the original VIN plate to maintain crash performance standards. Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in EV conversions, are considered safe if installed and managed correctly but can carry a considerable weight that must be accounted for.

How much does an EV conversion cost?

By far the easiest option is handing your car to a specialist company for a turnkey EV conversion. The price of a professional ICE to electric car conversion starts at around £30,000 and can exceed £500,000 for a luxury or top-quality classic car. Labour, specialist parts, high-capacity batteries, complicated modifications and restorations add to the overall cost of a professional conversion.

If you go down the DIY route, you can save a considerable amount of money. Sourcing a conversion kit or individual parts will cost around £10,000 or more for elevated performance and longer range. But unless you’re capable of conducting the conversion yourself or can outsource the labour to a trusted mechanic, this option is likely not for you.

Benefits of converting your ICE vehicle into an EV

Converting an ICE vehicle into an EV has a number of benefits, making it an appealing option for car enthusiasts and environmentally conscious drivers alike:

  • Unique driving experience – A conversion from ICE car to EV offers the opportunity to create a unique vehicle that’ll stand out in performance and looks

  • Competitive vehicle pricing – If you already own an ICE car, converting it may be cheaper than purchasing a new EV

  • Better for the environment – By converting a used car, you significantly reduce vehicle emissions from the production of a new EV and when driving your car

  • Lower running costs – EVs are generally cheaper to run than ICE cars, with fewer mechanical parts that can break, low charging rates at home and exemptions from Clean Air Zone and ULEZ charges