Author Topic: Electric quad and car conversion  (Read 2349 times)


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Electric quad and car conversion
« on: October 08, 2014, 10:26:28 AM »
Hi Everyone. I have also been dreaming of an EV conversion for a few years now and just can't seem to stop looking into it from time to time.  I recently finished an electric quad bike conversion just to get my head around how a basic conversion would work.

We stay on a farm near Fochville (...yes nobody knows where that is  ;) ) and I thought of using it just to ride around and do maintenance etc.  Well, I knew nothing about motors or EVs, but never really thought much about whether I could do it or not... the best is just to get started and learn as you go along... and be patient .. finding the parts can be a nightmare.

I bought an old (...very old 1965) 48V 10HP forklift motor to use in the conversion. My biggest problem up to date was finding batteries that could power the vehicle that were small enough to fit in and around the fairing.  I opted to use regular 50amp/hour car batteries... big mistake... I basically stuffed them up within 2 or 3 month with a range of no more than 4km.... mostly gravel.

Ok, but before I continue my story here is the most important thing that could help a few guys to get parts locally:

I know of one company in Vereeniging that does complete EV conversion:
I spoke to the guys there and asked them if they could source batteries or parts when they order from overseas. As they order in bulk containers I assume, it could help with the import costs that are quite frankly ridiculous. They said it shouldn't be a problem, but I have not used them yet.

I recently also came across this site:, which also does conversions.
I got my contactor switches and controller from Liftsure in JHB (

That being said, it was the most satisfying building experience I have ever had.  I started experimenting with a pulley drive system which ended up just smoking the hell out of the fan belt because the motor was to powerful .. and heavy.

I then changed to a chain drive system an put a fairly big gear on the back shaft to decrease speed... I still didn't have a controller at this point and just wanted to know if this motor will actually drive the quad. And this is where the story gets very funny very quickly. So I put 2 batteries in series (24V I assumed would be half the power and a safe speed).

As I did not have a controller I made a redneck footpedal switch by dividing the live wire that should go to the motor and connecting it with to washers ... when you step on it it connects... with a spring to release automatically.

This was hilarious as when I stepped on this pedal ... it was a wave of sparks (yes yes very dangerous) and then all engines go. I was amazed at how fast this thing accelerated and started to enjoy riding it that way. The pedal etc was suppose to be a one time test thing until I get the controller, but I enjoyed it so much that I went for another run and another... and then on the last run, as I rode into my workshop it happened.... the pedal washers made sparks and got stuck together at full speed ahead.... in a matter of 2 or 3 seconds the following happend:
1. I tried to get of from a accelerating quad and almost tipping it over
2. Got back on and tried the brakes... hahahah.. nothing stops a forklift motor with that little disc break
3. Avoided colliding with my bakkie that was parked in the workshop
4. No were to go, I hit a wall of chip board pieces and a 20L paint drum which exploded all over the place from the impact.
 Well half in a spin and in shock I got off, slipped in the paint a few times and them managed to disconnect the live pole from the battery. The quad at this point was still trying to climb the wall and the wires started to smoke from the amps it was pulling !!

After that experience, I disassembled the whole thing... very scared but very excited at the power that was possible, and waited until I got the controller.

So the complete setup was a 500amp 48V curtis controller. The 500 amp was the same price as the 250 amp .. .so I went for the bigger one to be safe. 48V DC forklift motor, 48V 80amp contactor and an inline fuse.

It works like a charm... I just want to put golf cart batteries or lithium ion batteries in there to extend the range. Power is amazing and the joy to ride soundless on the farm was great.. and fun as you can sneak up to people and when they turn around and see you ... they jump out of the way with big eyes wondering where you came from  :o

I am now planning on using the parts from the quad and putting them into a beach buggy to see how a gear box affects the power etc... but a proper conversion would properly set you back around 150k - 250k (this number was from the guys mentioned above that does the conversions).

The cost of batteries and import costs is the limiting factor I think for us. For me justifying buying R16k-R24k worth of batteries for the quad (not knowing if I will go 10km instead of 5) .. I could just buy a nice quad that uses almost no fuel in anyway... but I quite frankly never liked petrol engines.... too many parts I just don't want to figure out. My biggest problem is that we are about 70km from nearby cities and it wouldn't really be something I can commute with until we get batteries that could go 400km on a charge...

On the BioDiesel note... I was successful in making biodiesel and used it in one of my tractors and bakkies with no problem. I didn't "wash" the biodiesel as it took to damn long and I had to make daily trips to JHB and back which is a 160km drive for me. I made 100L at a time with the easiest method and I must say the bakkie never ran so smooth. Never had problems with the engine etc so I think that is just stories.

Anyway keep on keeping on and keep posting... I seems like there is a lot of interest in doing a conversion... the cost of a full car conversion is just too much to take the risk ... but if that is your hobby and you live 20-30km from work I think I would easily spend R100k or more to convert my car.



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Re: Electric quad and car conversion
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2019, 05:48:53 PM »

This sounds like fun.

Any further developments?