The decision to convert your car from a gas-guzzling motor to an electric one can be a big money saver, but a lot depends on the kind of car you have and the type of conversion you want. It can cost anywhere from only about $6,000 for a do-it-yourself kit to more than $80,000 for some types of cars.

The number of options is fairly staggering, with around 40 companies presently selling conversion kits. EV West, for example, has a cheap do-it-yourself version for about $8,000, while its priciest is $32,000. Just the electric motor, without the battery and other conversion material, can cost as little as $3,000 for a 40-horsepower model to $50,000 to $80,000 or more for a 400+ horsepower motor, or a racing motor.

Even a brief glance at some options available online can be staggering, to say the least. One thing is certain, and that is the immensely superior efficiency of the electric engine. Overall, an electric vehicle on average converts 77% of the electricity stored in its battery to moving the car, while a gas-powered car converts only 12% to 30% of the energy stored in its gasoline. The transmitting power from an EV’s motor to its wheels is 89% to 98% efficient, depending on the vehicle, whereas with an internal combustion engine, the same process from engine to wheels is only 14% to 26% efficient.

So conventional electric vehicles (EVs) are far more efficient than gas-powered models. And if solar power is used, they become even more efficient, because about 34% of the energy produced in a typical power plant gets lost in generating and transmitting electric power from the plant.

People are now keeping their cars longer than ever, with the average vehicle age now at 12.5 years, and more than 122 million vehicles on the road more than 12 years old. Among the reasons for keeping an older car are sharp price increases due to reduced supplies during the covid epidemic and steeply rising interest rates on loans.

But another reason people are hanging onto vehicles longer is simply that modern cars are far more durable and longer lasting than those built earlier, thanks to many improvements iin technology. If there are no compelling mechanical problems, there is far less point in dumping your older vehicle than there used to be.

Also, consumers are simply less willing and able to shell out $48,000, which is the average price of a new car! But remember, that’s only the average price. There are at least 10 cars on the market that cost way less than half that much, like the Mitsubishi Mirage ES at $17,650; the 2023 Hyundai Venue SE at $20,985, or the Chevrolet Trax LS at $21,495. As long as people remain addicted to big, expensive, gas-guzzling vehicles they’ll be paying the price. SUVs and pickups recorded a new record market share in the first four months of 2022, combining for a whopping 72.9 percent of total passenger car sales between January and April, or 3.32 million units out of a total of 4.56 million.

Another major problem electric cars face is that their range is generally lower than gasoline-powered vehicles. Edmunds, the auto authority, has tested dozens of electric vehicles, with declared ranges of 100 miles to 550 miles. (See for Edmunds’ long list of EV ranges.) It does seem a bit insane that people remain so concerned about the mileage range of EVs. Most automobile trips are really quite short: 28%, are less than a mile; 24% are 1 to 3 miles, while  5% were 25 to 50 miles, and only 2% of trips exceed 50 miles, according to the U.S. Department of Energy,

Therefore, this continuing concern with mileage range makes no sense, especially for anyone who has a charging outlet at their house. And apartment dwellers will eventually find many more public charging stations because the Biden administration plans to fund 500,000 chargers by 2030. Let’s hope that Republicans don’t manage to sabotage that proposal.

Photo: creative commons by carabou