Conversion of Combustion Engine Vehicles to Electric – What Does It Involve?

Conversion of Combustion Engine Vehicles to Electric – What Does It Involve?

In various regions, clean transport zones are being introduced, and the topic of ending the production of combustion engine vehicles is increasingly discussed. How should the automotive industry prepare for this? Such significant changes in transportation organization require comprehensive actions, including the use of unconventional solutions. An example of this is the conversion of combustion engine vehicles to electric, which extends the lifespan of cars, improves their utility properties, and adjusts their parameters to the current needs and requirements of customers. The Polish startup Ennovation Technology already has experience in this and stands out not only nationally but also globally for implementing highly specialized projects.

Changing Combustion Engine Vehicles to Electric

Conversion involves replacing the combustion engine with an electric one. This extends the vehicle’s operational life – the main structural elements are retained, but the entire drive system can be replaced with an electric one. This allows avoiding the costly recycling of the entire car, thereby limiting the negative impact on the ecological system. Economic aspects are also crucial – experts from Ennovation Technology estimate that the cost of converting a combustion engine vehicle to an electric one is on average about 30% of the cost of purchasing a new electric heavy-duty truck. It is also worth noting that many vehicles on the market have already ceased production, and changing the drive is often the only way to continue using them.

Customers opting for conversion include transport companies, which, due to operating costs or the introduction of clean transport zones, decide to implement electric drives into their fleet. It is also companies with specialized vehicles that see in drive conversion an opportunity for environmentally friendly and economically extended use of their vehicles. Additionally, there are cases where a combustion engine car is to be introduced into an environment where such a type of drive is unacceptable for safety reasons – for example, in mines. In such situations, the use of an electric drive is also a beneficial solution and often the only alternative to ordering a new vehicle.

“We deal with the comprehensive integration of entire drive systems in existing vehicle chassis from various segments. We are responsible not only for constructional issues but also support our clients in homologation stages and in the process of approving vehicles for traffic. As part of our services, we deliver drive units along with complete technical documentation necessary for vehicle registration. We have undertaken demanding and interesting projects – we participated in the construction of an electric special-purpose vehicle for use in mines. Our client needed a safe vehicle that, unlike widely used diesel drives, would not emit harmful fumes and noise. We also supplied an electric drive for a hybrid military airborne vehicle – the key issue there was to minimize heat and noise generation, making the vehicle much more difficult to detect,” says Piotr Lange, Technical Director at Ennovation Technology.

What Vehicles Has the Polish Company Built?

Electromobility is entering almost every industry, including the military sector and dual-use technologies. Ennovation Technology participated in the construction of the TAERO tactical transporter – an autonomous reconnaissance vehicle with remote control functionality. The drive is hybrid, goes to all four wheels, and engineers from Ennovation Technology were responsible for developing its electric part, providing the motor, lithium-ion battery, and vehicle and drive controller. The vehicle can drive in electric-only mode, moving almost silently and generating a significantly smaller thermal signature compared to models with combustion engines. This makes it difficult to detect the vehicle by some military tracking systems.

Another interesting project is the eSWT – a special-purpose vehicle for use in mines, where Ennovation Technology replaced the combustion engine with an electric one. The customer’s order for drive conversion was primarily driven by the desire to improve working conditions in the mine, where the previously used diesel engine emitted harmful fumes, generating additionally tiring noise. After the conversion, the vehicle has an electric motor with a power of 50 kW and a 60 kWh battery, providing a range of 200 km, with a maximum speed electronically limited to 40 km/h.

Is Drive Conversion a Way to Develop Electromobility?

Replacing a combustion engine with an electric one is an economically and environmentally justified way to electrify vehicles, bringing many benefits to customers, as explained in more detail by Mateusz Wach, CEO of Ennovation Technology:

“We have noticed that the market is open to the conversion of delivery and heavy-duty trucks. We use ready-made vehicles in which we integrate a new electric drive, according to the needs and requirements of our customers. It is still a niche issue, but the demand for such services will grow, and we see it as an opportunity for the development of our company. In this way, we also want to drive the development of electromobility and influence the improvement of the energy transition process in the most efficient way possible, keeping in mind both ecology and economics – drive conversion is several times cheaper than buying a new car and has a significantly smaller negative impact on the environment. It is also essential that our services allow avoiding the long waiting time for a new car, which is currently a significant problem for many industries. We offer the transformation of standard delivery and heavy-duty vehicles, but we also take on atypical orders for vehicles with specialized applications.”

Subsidies for Conversion

While in Poland, the government subsidy program currently only covers the purchase of new N1 category vehicles, in other European countries, subsidies for conversion are starting to appear. As reported by the German BALM – the Federal Office of Logistics and Mobility – in Germany, subsidies of up to €420,000 can be obtained for conversion to battery electric drive and up to €520,000 for conversion to hydrogen fuel cell drive. These amounts are almost the same as subsidies for purchasing new cars, and it is likely only a matter of time before similar solutions appear in Poland.