In a world where the debate between a gas car and an electric one is aggressive and never-ending. This young man with a keen interest and love for technology came up with the simplest idea to convert a gas car into an electric car. Mihir Vardhan is a student of electrical engineering at the University of Illinois.
Mihir Vardhan was visiting his family on a short trip from the University of Illinois when he converted his grandfather’s Santro into electric. The conversion project came into the limelight recently. Mihir posted a video on YouTube mapping and walking over his journey with the title, Simplest EV Conversion under $3000 – Convert Your Car in 3 Days!
Vardhan’s converted Santro is not only more environmentally friendly than traditional petrol or diesel car but also cheaper to operate. He estimates that he saves around Rs. 4,000, approx. $60 per month on fuel costs alone. His love for tech and green living made him think of ways to change things for the better. He made his YouTube channel Making With Mihir, when he was merely 8 years old and began with simpler projects like building a torch.
From a torch to the electric car, the 20-year-old engineer does it all. His love for engineering and sustainable living is evident in his work so far. Here’s how he has done it all again in only three days converting a gas car into an electric one.
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Who Is Mihir Vardhan?
Mihir Vardhan is a young man from India who converted his grandfather’s gas car into an electric one. He is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering and works on numerous projects in his free time. He is passionate about engineering and hopes to one day run a sustainable business back home in India.
Mihir Vardhan was always interested in alternative energy sources and sustainable living. His family friend James Abraham is the reason he got introduced to a green environment. James is himself an engineer and also runs a solar company. James first spoke of this idea of buying a Maruti 800 and turning it into electric when Mihir was in his last year of elementary school.
Years passed, and James kept reminding him of their task to work on converting the car into electric. However, only in 2021 Mihir finally decided to take the plunge on the project. It took him a few months to figure out the process and plan his short trip from the University Of Illinois in January 2022.
How He Converted Santro Car Into an EV?
The conversion idea came from several years old promises he did to his Uncle James about an electric car project. Mihir realized that his Grandfather’s Santro car was sitting idle in their family garage. He began looking for online ideas to work on the project of modifying the car into an electric vehicle. Mihir knew he could do it differently with the use of his toy car motor idea, years of hands-on experience, and everything, affordably.
The conversion of the gas car into electric is easier said than done as there are plenty of challenges along the way. There are three crucial parts of the conversion to electric: a motor, a controller, and an efficient battery pack. However, numerous conversion kits have been around for quite some time now but could cost a lot. Mihir decided to make his own changes to the conversion process.
The whole idea was based on making the conversion more affordable and easier. He got in touch with online vendors like Indiamart to get the supplies while prepping for the project.
The motor, controller, and battery came a bit late, leaving him with only three days to finish the project. Mihir was up for the challenge to complete the project on his short trip to India and that is exactly what he did.
Here’s How He Did It:
Mihir wanted a way to minimize the difficulties and complications when converting to an electric car. He wanted the process to be possible using a simple toolset that everyone has access to. In fact, the whole process needed a socket kit, floor jack, and two bricks only.
He chose to remove only the top half of the engine instead of the usual conversion technique of full engine removal. Full removal while converting to electric would require two additional motors to run the air conditioner and steering pump. Moreover, all that would need tons of brackets and wiring to hold everything in place.
He decided to put everything more simple and came up with the brilliant idea to use half of the existing engine mount and add another L shape mount to put the motor in.
He removed the pistons and cylinder head to make way for the new motor and reduce the weight. Moreover, this process allowed him to make a convenient way to give power to the air conditioning and steering pump.
Mihir used a 6kW DC motor on the existing engine housing and connected it with a Kelly connector. All left to do was putting the timing belt on and connect it to the battery. He chose a lithium Ferro phosphate battery to give around 72 volts of power to the car sitting in the trunk. His idea to give a charging point in the standard fuel port outlet keeps the aesthetic in check too, and is also interesting.
But the challenges were not over, and he had to deal with the hard braking system which is otherwise taken care of by the brake booster. He installed an electric vacuum pump to make sure the braking is perfect and helps the car to stop faster. In addition to the brakes, he had to also put some thought into central locking, wipers, and other smaller stuff. He installed an alternator to charge a 12v battery in the front for such functions.
With the help of his mentors and a local mechanic Ustad, he succeeded in his project with great success. With his conversion kit, he plans to give an affordable option for everyone to go electric.
Performance & Cost
The conversion project does make it a good city car with an 80-90km range and about 60kmph top speed. The idea to make it affordable conversion is still far from perfect as the car performs weaker than what it would on gas. However, given the electricity prices, the per km cost comes down to less than 1 INR, making it a perfect solution for soaring fuel prices.
What’s more interesting is the fact that this car is an electric vehicle with a gearbox. Keeping half of the engine with its crankshaft requires engine oil as well. However, these details make this car a bit more exciting than it already is. Mihir calls the project to be a beginner’s guide to switching from dinosaur bones to electric power.
Mihir calls the project “The Simplest EV Conversion”. He took the conversion project to a next level by utilizing whatever he could use from the standard vehicle. Moreover, the entire project cost him about 3,200 USD only for 1 motor, 1 controller, and a bit of sweat and grease.
“Although a car’s performance would be better with a larger motor and battery, this is good enough for city driving. It is also a good use of an end-of-life car like the one I used. Instead of throwing it out, and adding to the carbon emissions, we can reuse it like this. In most end-of-life cars, it’s only the engine that doesn’t function well, leading to increased emissions. By converting to an electric vehicle, you save on these emissions,” Mihir said.
The Simplest EV Conversion Components
Mihir’s simple EV conversion kit is rather affordable and simple than others available in the market. Here is a breakdown of what is included in his version:
- Motor: He uses a 6kW Brushless DC motor or BLDC for the conversion kit.
- Controller: 350A Kelly motor controller to efficiently control the system.
- LFP Battery: The biggest chunk of the cost is the battery pack. Mihir uses a 72V 100Ah Lithium Ferro Phosphate for powering up the project.
- DC-DC Converter: 72-12V DC to DC converter to operate central locking, wipers, power windows, lights, etc.
Benefits & Drawbacks of Electric Vehicles
Many still think electric cars are not worth the hype but fail to acknowledge that there is conceivable scope for EVs going big in the coming times. Sustainable living is the need of the hour and Mihir’s project could help everyone realize the benefits of electric vehicles.
Benefits of Electric Vehicles:
- Electric cars are more efficient than ICE cars. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electric cars are about four times as efficient as ICE cars meaning EV use less energy to travel the same distance as an ICE car.
- Electric cars are cheaper to operate and maintain than ICE cars. Because they are more efficient, electric cars cost less to operate than ICE cars. Why? Electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts than ICE cars, fewer breakdowns, or need for replacement.
- Electric cars emit less pollution than ICE cars. Electric cars produce zero emissions, while ICE cars produce large amounts of air pollution and greenhouse gases.
Drawbacks of Electric Vehicles:
- Electric cars can take longer to charge than ICE cars. While it only takes a few minutes to fill up an ICE car with gasoline, it can take several hours to charge an EV.
- Electric cars often have shorter ranges than ICE cars. EVs can’t travel as far on a single charge as an ICE car could on a full tank of gas.
- The upfront cost of an electric car can be higher than an ICE car. Electric cars typically cost more to purchase than ICE cars. However, over time, the cheaper operating and maintenance costs of electric cars will start to offset the higher purchase price.
Electric cars have many advantages over traditional ICE cars. However, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Ultimately, the decision of whether to buy an electric vehicle or an ICE car depends on your specific needs and preferences.
DIY Switch To Electric
If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint and saving money on fuel, you may be considering converting your car to electric power. Luckily, this process is relatively straightforward, and there are a number of kits like Mihir’s available to help you make the switch.
Mihir’s version could be the right kind of help to get going with such a DIY conversion project. You can choose to remove the entire engine and work with the standard kits or decide to take Mihir’s cue to weld a mounting mold to fit in the motor along with the half engine. Here’s a quick guide to converting your internal combustion engine (ICE) car to electric in three simple DIY steps using common tools.
Remove: First, you’ll need to remove the ICE components from your car including the engine, fuel tank, and exhaust system. You’ll also need to disconnect the battery and any other electrical components. Once all of these parts are removed, you can begin installing the electric conversion kit.
Install: The most important part of the conversion process is installing the motor and controller. The motor will be mounted in the same location as the ICE engine, and the controller will be mounted near the battery. Using half of the engine with Mihir’s kit helps avoid the need for additional motors. You’ll also need to install wiring to connect the motor to the controller.
Connect: Once the motor and controller are installed, you can connect the battery and other electrical pieces. The last step is to test-drive your car to make sure everything works properly.
With a little effort, you can easily convert your ICE car to electric power. This process will help you save money on fuel and reduce your carbon footprint.
Mihir converted his gas-powered car into an electric one by himself. He is passionate about renewable energy and believes that everyone can make a difference with just a little push of inspiration. Mihir is not your average Joe. Not only did he convert his gas-powered car into an electric, but he also has many other innovations to his name. Mihir made disinfecting chambers with the name Terminator Mega that became a hit during lockdown times in India. Even the government offices bought them,
He is an advocate for electric vehicles and hopes to see more people making the switch. Mihir’s story is an inspiring one. He proves that it is possible to make a difference, even if you’re just one person. We hope his story will inspire others to take action and make the switch to renewable energy. Scribble down your thoughts on how you all see the scope of his innovations and tweaks on the conversion. Looks like Tesla can use some of his expertise to get clever tech ideas.