December 1, 2021, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Converting an ICV into an EV

The Nepal Weekly
June 23, 2021

The Nepal Weekly | May 04, 2021

EV enthusiasts usually favour smaller and lighter vehicles for conversion, especially older models with fewer features that add excess weight. They’ll afford a longer range on a charge and livelier acceleration than bigger and heavier rides because it takes less energy to propel a lighter vehicle. They can also be more affordable to convert because they can get by with a smaller motor, though they also tend to leave less room for the batteries.

Most conversions are made with cars that come with a manual transmission. Because an electric motor delivers 100 percent of its power instantly and continuously, there’s no need for multiple gears. The transmission is usually fixed in first or second gear to afford a steady range of power. Reverse gear works as usual. If the conversion employs an AC motor, it can be set up to run in reverse to back up the car at the flick of a switch.

If you’re looking for a suitable donor car to electrify, make sure it’s structurally sound and is in good overall condition. While the engine and related parts are of no concern here, other components like the brakes, steering and suspension need to be in good shape. The most cost-efficient choice would be to find a model that’s otherwise mechanically intact, but has a blown engine. As with buying any used car, it’s wise to have a trusted automotive technician check it out before taking possession.

The Conversion Process

As one might guess, the first step in converting a conventional vehicle into an electric car is to strip it of all ICE-related hardware, including the engine, fuel tank, muffler, exhaust, starter, and radiator. They’ll be replaced by myriad components, the most significant of which is the electric motor. It’s most typically a DC unit, though an AC system is said to be a better choice. The size of the motor used will depend largely on the vehicle’s size and weight, and the owner’s preferences with regard to performance.

The motor is, of course, driven by a battery pack. Lead-acid batteries like those used in golf carts are often installed, though they typically deliver a slim operating range on a charge. Lithium cells are smaller and lighter, and can enable longer ranges, but they’re more expensive. How many batteries needed will depend on the vehicle and the space available in which to have them fitted.

You’ll also need a power controller to regulate the flow of energy between the battery and the motor, a charging system to replenish the batteries via an electric circuit, wiring harnesses, and myriad other components. Additional hardware is necessary to operate the vehicle’s air conditioning, heating, and power steering systems.

Conversion in Nepal

In Nepal a small ICE vehicle first converted by Bhairaja Sthapit in around 1981 when there was shortage of fossil fuel supply in Nepal. Bhairaja, still working as an electric mechanic put effort to run his small car by electric power. This was a successful attempt but after smooth supply of fossil fuel in market, the converted EV was forgotten. Similarly, Kiran Raj Joshi, Bikash Raj Pandey and Sanjeev Rajbhandari converted Volkswagen Beetle into electric drive. The Lead Acid Batteries installed for the power supply were so bulky that seats for driver and a friend at the side was there to ride. That converted EV also did not appear for a longer time. Umesh Raj Shrestha also had converted a Mitsubishi L100 van into electric drive. He sought for government recognisation for the conversion trend, but that did not happen. Consequently converting of ICE vehicles into electric vehicle became just a dream for the enthusiasts. In 2020, a young man from Chitwan also successfully converted a Perodua car to drive by battery power.

More importantly, the conversion of heavy smoke belching three wheelers with diesel engine were converted to electric drive in around 1994 is an appreciable and successful move. Later hundred on Safa Tempos were assembled in Nepal. They served the Kathmandu valley passengers well during another phase of fossil fuel shortage in 2015.

This is also worth to mention that Dr. Mahabir Pun led National Innovation Centre is working for an ICE Vehicle to convert into an EV. Once accomplish the effort, the centre will be contributing to produce skilled human resource for conversion jobs.

Legal provisions

The government through legal provision once allows fossil fuel vehicles to convert into electric drive vehicles, it will open door for a large number of old fossil fuel vehicles with good health to transform which will contribute to reduce air pollution and burning of fossil fuel. Small cars, micro-buses, mini-buses will find a big opportunity to operate smokeless service while reducing operating costs.          

Any conversion or transformation the vehicles like change in colour or petrol engine to diesel engine or anything else requires permission from governmental in Nepal.

Nepal government has formulated Policy on Environment Friendly Vehicle and Transportation in BS 2071. In the Policy, it is mentioned that electric vehicles will be promoted. The government will support formulating needful legal provision, physical facilities including facilities for electric vehicles charging stations, recycling facilities for used lead acid batteries, and even support fossil fuel vehicle to transfer into electric drive.

But most of the mentioned activities for formulating legal provisions are still under consideration. So as the provision for conversion also has been in a long wait. Interestingly, Province Bagmati Government had allowed conversion of fossil fuel vehicles not older than 7 years to convert into electric drive. But this provision is not practicable because vehicles in their first 7 years are use to be in the good performing condition. So the users rarely like to convert at this phase. However, if the government allowed fossil fuel vehicles aged 15 or more years with good health other than the engine condition to convert into electric vehicle would be highly appreciable as supporting promotion of electric transportation in the country.