Electric Truck Conversion Kits: Flip Your Old Truck Into an EV!

Electric truck conversions are a hot topic right now more than ever, and you may wonder what that process entails and how to get your hands on an electric truck conversion kit. So, lets chat about it.

Key Takeaways:

While most tires on fossil fuel vehicles last an average of 50k-60k miles (about 4 years), tires on electric vehicles don’t last nearly as long and you may need to change them as soon as 15-20K miles.
As a general rule, you should start shopping for new tires one the tread pattern has about 4/32″ of an inch remaining.
While many tires are warranted between 45k-60k miles, electric vehicles like Teslas wear out much faster, meaning replacement can come as soon as 15k miles.

Once you decide to turn your truck into an EV, expect to:

  • Invest time and money into your conversion
  • Remove all gas-related parts
  • Install new electric parts
  • Fix the wiring of the vehicle
  • Adjust depending on trial and error

This looks different in almost every situation, but this bare-bones outline explains the process for turning your truck into an electric vehicle.

Keep reading to learn whether this is the right choice for you, what your options are, and what you should expect.

Should You Turn Your Truck Into an EV?

Turning your truck into an electric vehicle is not an easy decision to make, and it’s not a great idea for every situation.

You need to make sure you have enough time and money to throw at the project, although you can decrease the need for one by increasing your investment in the other.

In some cases, turning your truck into an electric vehicle doesn’t make sense logistically, but with enough resources you can accomplish almost anything. 

Consider these pros and cons before deciding if it’s the right choice for you:

Great for passion projects (i.e. older vehicle conversions)May require more resources than you possess
DIY conversions kits make for easy conversionsConversion kits not available for every make, model, and year
 Many conversions cheaper than buying a new electric vehicle, especially for trucksPrice varies greatly depending on materials needed and method of conversion
Reducing emissions and your environmental impactsMay lack efficiency of an originally-electric truck

It’s up to you to weigh the benefits and costs of turning your truck into an electric vehicle; while it’s an admirable project, it’s not feasible for many and you may be better off investing elsewhere.

Which Trucks Work Best for EV Conversions?

You can convert any truck with enough motivation, but some make more sense than others.

This is why you see more conversions with trucks like Ford F-150s and Toyota pickups; the resources for the conversions are more readily available, and the trucks perform well once converted.

In short, you’re better off with a lightweight truck that has a solid chassis. The lighter the truck, the less power it consumes and the longer its range post-conversion.

Manual transmissions weigh less, and they’re also less complex for the conversion.

While older trucks are a popular choice for conversions, you need to make sure there aren’t any rust issues or broken parts that can interfere with your conversion.

A truck without an engine or a gas tank isn’t an issue, but you want any parts you retain in good working order.

Conversion Kits vs. DIY Electric Truck Conversion

One of the first decisions you make in an electric truck conversion is whether you use a conversion kit or you piece things together on your own.

Conversion kits are much more convenient, and you can get everything you need from the same place at the same time.

You may need to hunt down a kit for your specific truck make and model, but there are plenty of companies out there dedicated to this cause.

A conversion kit costs quite a bit more, and it may not come with batteries for your conversion. Still, it gives you peace of mind in knowing that everything should come together exactly as you need.

If you’re savvy (or maybe just frugal), you can gather your own equipment for your conversion.

Many truck conversions save tens of thousands by grabbing up out-of-commission vehicles, harvesting them for the needed electric components, and then selling the rest to recoup their costs.

Almost every forum search comes back with the same suggestion to buy a salvaged Nissan LEAF and proceed from there.

You can also get pretty creative in your sourcing depending on your vehicle and needs, and you may end up with a truck more powerful than any baseline kit could offer.

Once you overcome this hurdle, you can move on to the actual process of turning your truck into an electric vehicle.

Then again, you could always just buy the $1,800 Chang Li electric truck from Alibaba 🙂

What to Expect From a Truck Conversion Project

Whether you’re paying someone else to do your conversion or you’re taking the labor on yourself, you can expect to follow the same basic process for your EV conversion.

This differs depending on the specific details of your conversion, but it usually looks like:

  • Removing all unnecessary parts
  • Replacing and installing parts necessary for your electric motor
  • Figuring out battery storage and wiring
  • Setting up your charging and voltage monitoring system

These basic steps happen before you can take your first non-gas mile in your converted truck.

What You Remove

Conversions start by removing anything your truck doesn’t need when the conversion is done, including:

  • Your old engine
  • Gas tank
  • Exhaust
  • Radiator
  • Fuel lines

You may also need to replace certain parts. This happens with necessary parts that may not have electronic control, such as your transmission or hydraulic pump.

What You Install

Once you have the old parts out of the way you install your electric motor, connecting it to the transmission.

You may need an adapter plate or a metal frame to hold the electric motor steady, and this is something that a conversion kit takes care of.

Your EV conversion also needs a controller to replace the carburetor in controlling your speed and acceleration.

Anything else that needs replacement with electronic components, such as power steering, should also be installed prior to battery connection and wiring.

Battery Storage and Wiring

Trucks fail to have the battery storage of cars with trunk space, but you can still find space under the seats, in the engine compartment, and in your old gas tank’s space.

You need stronger batteries than the golf cart varieties sedans get by on, and many truck conversions rely on Nissan LEAF batteries or major investments in Tesla batteries.

Once you have these in a safe location, you connect your motor to the batteries and then to your controller. You also need to reconnect everything else, like your radio and lighting.

Charging and Monitoring

The final part of your conversion is setting up your charging point (the fuel tank door is still the most convenient) and determining whether you want to take the time to set up a voltmeter to monitor your charge.

Final Thoughts

Turning your truck into an electric vehicle is not something you can do without the right resources, but it almost always pays off for anyone serious about it.

For some drivers, it’s the most accessible way to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle that does what they need.

While manufacturers are working hard to roll out the electric trucks of your dreams, we are still years away from that reality. Conversion is possible right now, and it may be the best choice for you.